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Sinéad O’Connor is “safe” and “surrounded by love” after a tearful video she posted on Facebook prompted concerns for her safety.
The singer’s struggle with mental health has been a very public one in recent years, and in the emotional 12-minute message, she says three illnesses and family problems have taken their toll – and that her psychiatrist was the only thing “keeping her alive”.
But she also spoke out for the “millions” of people suffering mental health issues in silence, urging viewers to support their loved ones and saying she hoped her honesty would help others.
Three days after her plea, an updated status on her Facebook page read: “I am posting at Sinead's request, to let everyone who loves her know she is safe, and she is not suicidal.
“She is surrounded by love and receiving the best of care. She asked for this to be posted knowing you are concerned for her.”
Explaining she was living in a motel in the “arse end” of New Jersey in the US, O’Connor said in the video – posted 4 August – that she was struggling after losing custody of her son and felt she was “wandering the world alone”.
“Mental illness is a bit like drugs. It doesn’t give a s**t who you are,” she says in the clip.
“And equally, you know what’s worse? 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.”
People were extremely concerned for O’Connor’s safety after she at one point says her life is “revolving around just not dying” and that she has “absolutely nobody”.
Distressingly, she explains: “I’m not going to die but still this is no way for people to be living. I’m not doing this for me […]
“If it was just for me I’d be gone. Straight away back to my mum.”
Asking for better understanding of mental health, she says she wants “everyone to know what it’s like” and acknowledges that not everyone has access to the “resources” she has, telling the camera: “I’m really sad and I shouldn’t be here and I know I’m just one of millions and that’s the only thing that keeps me going. I’m making this video because I am one of millions.”
She adds: “You’ve got to take care of us […] If you have a family member that suffers from mental illness, care for them, tenderness, love, care for them.”
Posted wiith the hashtag #oneofmillions, the video soon received thousands of reactions and comments.
The post prompted fellow singer Annie Lennox to make a plea for support for O’Connor on her official Facebook page, writing: “I just watched this truly distressing call for help by Sinead O’Connor, from a motel room in New Jersey, where she says there’s no one there to help her, with the exception of a psychiatrist and a doctor.
“I realise 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.
“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 has been extremely frank in recent years about living with depression, from suicidal feelings to bipolar disorder – something she says she was misdiagnosed with in her 30s. She later said she believed she had post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from childhood experiences.
While the video clearly reveals a woman in distress, now that it appears O’Connor is safe and supported her openness about mental health could open up the conversation for others who may be suffering in silence.
If you are feeling suicidal or in need of someone to list, call Samaritans now, for free, on 116 123, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image: Rex Features