Vegas Rules: Did Hard Rock Hotel Boss Commit Suicide?

Last Updated Mar 10, 2010 1:49 PM EST

When Las Vegas Hard Rock Hotel and Casino President Randy Kwasniewski, 55, was found dead of a possibly self-inflicted gunshot wound in his Summerlin, Nev. home Tuesday, few news outlets aside from TMZ.com were calling it an apparent suicide, likely due to his status and place in the Las Vegas community. The Las Vegas Sun changed their title from "Hard Rock Hotel President Dead of Apparent Suicide" to "Hard Rock Hotel President Found Dead by Gunshot Wound" yesterday. News reports from other sources updated today seem to mostly carry the words "self-inflicted gunshot."

The Hard Rock Hotel wasn't known for having financial problems, although I'm sure the recession wasn't helping anyone on or off the Las Vegas Strip. Kwasniewski, who was president of Morgans Hotel Group Las Vegas and chief operating officer of the Hard Rock Hotel Inc., was a visible face of the hotel and oversaw its $1 billion expansion and often took employees and family on off-roading retreats.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, there is still a societal stigma attached to suicide prevention and mental health services, and while I can respect Morgans for not speculating on a cause of death for one of its employees -- suicide of a chief operating officer doesn't make shareholders secure, either.

The Las Vegas Sun not addressing Kwasniewski's possible suicide is doubly strange because they published an article in 2008 (but referred to it again this week) about a mental health study that showed people who lived in Las Vegas had an increased suicide risk of up to 62% more than anywhere else in the United States. Tourists, or those merely visiting Las Vegas, doubled their suicide risk.

Photo: paulmichaels79uf