A close confidante of Russell Armstrong claims the troubled "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" star called to ask him for a bottle of the anti-anxiety drug Xanax three days before he took his own life, TMZ reports.
Russ McCullough refused his friend's request over concerns that Russell was not in a healthy state of mind. Sometime "recently" the two had dinner, McCullough said, and Armstrong could not afford to pay for his meal.
McCullough -- who appeared on the first season of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" -- gave Armstrong a single Xanax pill during that dinner to help calm his distraught friend. McCullough said Armstrong was devasted by his pending divorce to Taylor, and his negative portrayal on the Bravo reality series.
Russell Armstrong's dead body was found hanging in a home on Los Angeles' Mulholland Drive Monday. An autopsy, which was completed on Wednesday, ruled his death as a suicide.
Although no drugs or alcohol were found at the scene, a toxicology analysis is being done, and the results are expected in six to eight weeks.
Another friend of Russell Armstrong's said he felt the reality show was to blame for the 47 year-old's undoing.
"The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,' I think, was [Russell's] downfall," William Ratner told The Los Angeles Times. "The TV show put a lot of pressure on him to produce financially. You're on a show with a couple like the Maloofs, who are verifiable billionaires, and you're not."
At least one of Taylor Armstrong's fellow housewives, Adrienne Maloof, is legimately very wealthy. Her family owns an NBA team and The Palms casino.
"He [Armstrong] said the producers at Bravo told Russell and Taylor that they picked them as the 'disaster couple,' and if they weren't going to have drama in the second season, they would cut them and replace them with someone else," Ratner continued.
The Los Angeles Times contacted a Bravo representative for clarification, and the rep denied the story, saying, "Production has assured us that there is no truth to these claims."
Teasers for the second season -- released before Russell's suicide -- indicate that Russell and Taylor Armstrong's marital difficulties will be a storyline.
Taylor Armstrong filed for divorce in July after about six years of marriage, accusing Russell Armstrong of "ongoing physical and verbal abuse," the Huffington Post reported.
While the allegations of physical abuse took some of the reality show's viewers by surprise, Russell and Taylor's separation wasn't entirely unexpected. Toward the end of the show's first season, Taylor Armstrong became outspoken about her marital dissatisfactions, and questioned whether she should remain with her husband.
On Wednesday, TMZ published photos of Taylor Armstrong with a fairly deep cut above her eye, reporting that Taylor was believed to have suffered the injury four days prior to the discovery of Russell's body.
"Taylor's friends insist the cut above her eye was not inflicted by [Russell]," the TMZ report said. Apparently the injury occurred during a football game.
Although the couple was portrayed as very wealthy on "The Real Housewives" -- they threw a $60,000 birthday party for their four year-old daughter, Kennedy -- their lavish lifestyle seems to have been a charade.
On top of their marriage difficulties, Russell and Taylor Armstrong were facing a lawsuit charging they used investor money to fund their lavish lifestyle. Russell denied the allegations through his attorney, Ronald Richards, who admitted that his client was overwhelmed by personal and financial struggles at the time of his death. He had previously filed for bankruptcy in 2005, the same year he married Taylor.
"I feel bad because his credit cards weren't working," said Richards. "He had tremendous financial problems.
"He was also extremely bummed out about the divorce with Taylor," Richards added. "As far as a will, even if he does have a will, they don't have any assets, so I'm not sure what there would be left to leave."
The Los Angeles Times reports that Bravo has not yet decided whether the second season of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" will air as is. The season premiere was scheduled for Sept. 5, but it is now possible that the airing will be postponed, or the footage will be further edited.