A tearful video posted on Facebook by Irish singer Sinead O’Connor has given new drive to our need to change — change not just how aware we are of mental illness, but how we approach the people in our lives who face it.
In the video, posted with the hashtag “#OneOfMillions”, the singer says that she is staying alone in a Travelodge in New Jersey and has no one around to support her. The post caused alarm from fans and friends fearing for her personal safety.
“I gave so much love in my life and I just can’t understand how a person can be left so alone. And I want everyone to see what it’s like. It’s why I’m making this video,” she says.
“That mental illness, it’s a bit like drugs. It doesn’t give a s**t who you are. And, equally, you know what’s worse, is the stigma doesn’t give a s**t who you are. And suddenly all the people who are supposed to be loving you and taking care of you are treating you like s**t. And then when you’re angry or you’re hurt because they’re doing it, it’s like a witch hunt and they’re pointing at you going ‘See, see, this is why we don’t want to know.’”
Fellow singer Annie Lennox posted a response on her own Facebook page, urging those around O’Connor to reach out: “I realize that Sinead has some serious mental health issues, but she appears to be completely out on a limb and I'm concerned for her safety,” wrote Lennox. “Are there no close friends or family who could be with her to give her some loving support? It's terrible to see her in such a vulnerable state.”
O’Connor’s representatives have since posted a follow-up status update assuring her fans that the singer was safe and “surrounded by love and receiving the best of care.”
How to spot the warning signs
In the video, O’Connor laments the lack of compassion she feels from those around her about the issues she faces. She says: “I was able to escape my country and escape stigma. And escape all the things that made it okay for everyone to use the fact that I suffer from three mental illnesses as something to beat me with rather than as something with which they might, you know, be compassionate.”
If you have concerns that someone in your life may be having suicidal thoughts, look out for warning signs a suicidal person might display, such as:
- Talking about feeling hopeless
- Changes in sleeping and eating habits
- Engaging in reckless behaviors or searching for ways to cause personal harm
- Avoiding social situations
- Showing anxiousness, agitation, or expressing rage or the intent for revenge
What to do if you have suicidal thoughts
If you feel that you or a loved one are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline immediately at 800-273-8255.
If you are having suicidal thoughts yourself, immediately:
- Get rid of any weapons, dangerous medications, or other potential methods of suicide.
- Take your medications as directed, and reach out to your doctor if you are experiencing negative side effects from them.
- Avoid alcoholic beverages or drugs.
- Reach out to a friend, loved one, or professional to talk to.
- And stay hopeful. No matter how terrible your situation may seem, there are always other ways of dealing with the issue at hand.
“People who suffer from mental illness are the most vulnerable people on Earth," says O’Connor in the video. “I hope that this video is somehow helpful. Not actually to me, but the fact that I know I’m only one of millions and millions and millions of people in the world that are just like me, actually.”
Kareem Yasin is a writer and editor at Healthline. Outside of health and wellness, he is active in conversations about inclusivity in mainstream media, his homeland of Cyprus, and the Spice Girls. Reach him on Twitter or Instagram.