The new book by Steven Naifeh and Gregory is postulating that van Gogh was shot rather than him taking his own life. We’ll have to await the evidence since the book isn’t out yet.
But if the distorted reproduction that the Independent chose to illustrate the article is anything like the book I wouldn’t put any faith in their theory.
Here’s the article, and take a good look at the Van Gogh self-portrait that illustrates it:
Below are various versions of the same painting from a few other locations, which give an indication of why one should never pay much attention to any reproduced image of a painting without ever having seen it in person. That is if one is trying to get a really accurate idea of the painting itself. The pic on the Independent page is about the worst reproduction I’ve ever seen of the painting. It looks like they even compressed it along the horizontal axis, no doubt to fit the space for it in the article. It’s a general indication of how little mass (so-called) culture cares about anything to do with high culture. It seems to me that often the whole point of popular writing about great painting is to trivialize, sensationalize or wholly debase it. “Gee, everybody!!! Let’s all go have an art adventure!!! That kooky Van Gogh is always worth a good story!”