Sinead O'Connor's troubling spiral: Sharing her breakdown on Facebook might have saved her life

O'Connor's openness about a suicide attempt is difficult to watch, but the support she gains could be worth it

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Senior Writer

Published December 1, 2015 4:34PM (EST)

 (AP Photo/Marilia Ogayar)
(AP Photo/Marilia Ogayar)

Her career has been marked with turbulence, controversy and mental health struggles. But the past few days have been the most disturbing yet in the life of Sinead O'Connor — and she's invited all of her social media followers into her torment.

Earlier in November, the singer shared that "Alas I must return to hospital. 'Conditions' as Howling Wolf would say. Reckon I should be getting a loyalty card at this stage." Later, she posted an open message to a person she claims has been stalking her, saying, “Despite the fact you are very aware I was admitted to hospital two weeks ago and have been on suicide watch ever since (in no small part due to your incessant sexually disturbed harassment of me which has been ongoing since March) you continue to bombard me with scores of e mails per day, in which you gleefully state that you are setting me up to be raped."

Then on Friday, things took a sharp turn when she posted about receiving a message from her ex asking her to call him, and feeling "literally frozen and stuck in sheer terror as if it were quicksand." She followed up with a series of increasingly anguished posts regarding her custody disputes involving her two younger children Shane Lunny and Yeshua Bonadio, warning her ex, "If you don't listen [Shane's] going to kill himself or someone else…. HE NEARLY BEAT AN ANIMAL TO DEATH ON SUNDAY. " On Sunday, there came an even more ominous message. "I have taken an overdose," she wrote. "There is no other way to get respect. I am not at home, I'm at a hotel, somewhere in Ireland, under another name…well done guys, you've finally got rid of me. Sorry the penny didn't drop sooner. I'm an idiot. When you planned to get me away from my babies did you plan for me losing my mind over it? It being the final straw? For how you're gonna explain why I died?"

The Irish Mirror reported Sunday that police "confirmed that the singer had been found around an hour and a half after the post was put up," and in her more recent Facebook posts, O'Connor says she is now in the hospital.

In a Monday post, she wrote to her estranged family members, "You had hypocrisy to come to hospital and then not be here when I wake and not pick up phone? I'm sh_t to you. You're dead to me." But then, in a plaintive, disjointed Tuesday post, she changed her message, saying, "To my children and family. You came to the hospital to see me on life support. You left before I woke and you haven't been back. Please why are you doing these things to me?? I need you. I need your love…. Jake, Roisin, everyone. Please. Come and tell me why this is all happening. Come and tell Me I'm loved. Come e and I'm wanted and cherished. Why did you leave before I woke?… All, please,come see me and make me feel like M loved. Help me Istead of punishment . Please please I beg you come see me and help." [sic]

O'Connor's history of suicidal behavior goes back several years. In 1999, she attempted suicide on her 33rd birthday. Four years ago, she claimed she'd been misdiagnosed as bipolar and had been more recently diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. In 2012, she told The Sun she'd recently overdosed in a suicide attempt in Los Angeles but added, "God obviously wants me around — though I can’t think why."

Speaking with Salon last year on the release of her album “I’m Not Bossy, I’m the Boss,” O'Connor spoke of her struggles with mental health and with medications. She admitted, "After the last album I went on tour, and I had been put on a medication by the name of Tegretol. It’s for an illness that it appears I didn’t actually have, and I had a bad reaction to the medication. It makes you suicidal, unfortunately. When I discussed it with my health care provider and told him I was having difficulty with the medication, he didn’t realize I was having this reaction and doubled it. So the reaction was stronger and I had to leave the tour." And speaking with the Irish Mirror in 2013, she said, "I’m delighted to be able to say that after ten years of poisoning myself with these drugs and having to live with the extremely difficult side-effects of them I can shortly begin the very, very slow indeed, process of getting them out of my system and my life and getting my life back."

The confident, optimistic O'Connor of just a short time ago has for currently been replaced by a woman in obvious emotional distress. Mental health issues — like all health ones — unfortunately, are difficult to diagnose and treat, and have a stubborn tendency to recur. It's extremely difficult to watch, and yet, O'Connor's need to be so public with her pain may have been the thing that saved her life this week. And while she's desperately pleading for love on a Facebook page, perhaps she's gaining some measure of comfort from what her fans can offer instead -- just their support.

Sinead O'Connor Pens Another Troubling Rant Hours After Suicide Note

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a senior writer for Salon and author of "A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles."

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Aol_on Bipolar Disorder Depression Ptsd Sinead O'connor Suicide