Angela Lee Opens Up On Suicide Attempt & Dedicating Fightstory To Sister Victoria
Trigger warning: contains references to suicide.
For the first time, mixed martial arts fighter Angela Lee for ONE Championship has revealed that her sister Victoria took her own life on 26 Dec last year.
In an article for The Players’ Tribune, Lee said that she had also attempted to take her own life in 2017.
The car accident in which she initially said she fell asleep at the wheel was not actually an accident.
Lee opened up about her mental state before the incident in 2017, as well as how she’s dealt with her mental health afterwards.
She also dedicated Fightstory, a mental health non-profit organisation, to Victoria, as well as to anyone who may require help as a combat sports athlete.
Angela Lee said car accident in 2017 was suicide attempt
“It’s taken me a long time to get to this place, but I’ve now reached a point where I am comfortable and confident enough to speak the full truth,” Lee said.
“Six years ago, I tried to end my life.”
Describing the incident as “still difficult to think about, let alone talk about”, Lee said talking about it now has been challenging.
However, she felt that her “momentary feeling of discomfort” would be worth it if she could help save just one life.
At the time in 2017, Lee was 20 and was preparing for a fight to defend her title.
“Pressure, stress, and expectations all began to build up,” she said. “I had tunnel vision and thought that this upcoming fight was the most important thing in my life.”
But she was struggling to lose weight for the fight and it had begun to consume her every thought.
This was even though Lee said she had everything she wanted and had.
She was also unable to share what she was feeling with anyone.
Drove out in car & hit guardrail
On 6 Nov 2017, Lee described having a hard time shedding weight for the fight.
“I was having a really hard time,” she said. “I was trying to stay in the fight, mentally. Trying to stay strong, but I felt myself slipping. I was terrified and exhausted and at my limit, and all of these negative, dark thoughts started flooding in.”
She then found that she still had 12 pounds to lose. Upon that realisation, she broke down and even tried to break her arm and give herself a concussion.
“I was trying anything I could think of to escape from the situation I was in and get out of the fight,” Lee explained.
At around 4am, Lee decided she’d get into her car and “leave it up to fate to see what happens next”.
“I wanted to end whatever it was that I was feeling,” she described. “Because I felt like that was my only option…I was too scared to speak up and tell people I was struggling. I was too afraid of what my family would think of me, of what the world would think.”
Eventually, Lee pressed her foot all the way down on the gas pedal, hit the guardrail, and rolled down a gulch off the road.
She survived with some scratches and some passers-by helped her out of her car. Everything after that, she said, was a blur.
Told husband what happened
After the incident, she eventually told only one person about what really happened — her husband, Bruno.
“Bruno was shocked, of course. But he was glad that I told him the truth. Beyond that, he was just very confused because he didn’t know about everything I was dealing with,” she said.
Although she felt a sense of safety and love after telling Bruno the truth, Lee described still feeling very alone in processing her thoughts. She noted that her husband did not understand what she was going through, but this was not his fault.
“I felt fragile, shattered,” she wrote. “I was broken, and I needed to heal and put back the pieces all by myself.”
She said it took her a very long time to heal after that.
“For the longest time, day after day, I felt like I was living a lie. I felt like an imposter,” she said.
Eventually, she picked up habits to help herself, such as focusing on things she could control, as well as creating tasks that would be like instant “pick me ups”.
Although she still has her bad days, she says, she has healed every time she talked about what happened to others.
“At this point, I’m just trying my best each day, and every day that looks different. But I’m okay with that. I realise now that I’m only human, we all are. We aren’t meant to live a perfect, spotless life.”
I’ve come to learn that this life, it’s life. It’s about growing and learning to accept yourself.
Angela Lee dedicates Fightstory to sister Victoria
Lee revealed that on 26 Dec 2022, Victoria Lee, her sister and fellow fighter, took her own life at the age of 18.
Before this, the Lee family had never revealed a cause of death.
It was Victoria, Lee said, that inspired her to start Fightstory, a mental health non-profit organisation.
“Fightstory was inspired by Victoria and the remarkable life that she lived at just 18 years old,” she said. “Fightstory is just as much hers as it is mine. It’s something we created together, to save lives and to try and make the world a better place.”
“We want people to know that although you may feel lonely in your fight with mental health, you are not alone,” Lee added.
She hopes that she can help others through Fightstory and sharing her own experiences, so that others who are facing suicidal thoughts won’t feel alone.
“You are not alone,” she repeated. “Hope is real, and you can get through this.”
Victoria is survived by her three siblings — Angela, Christian, and Adrian — and her parents, Singaporean Ken Lee and Korean-Canadian Jewelz.
If you or anyone you know is in need of support, do try calling these hotlines:
- Samaritans of Singapore Hotline: 1767
- Institute of Mental Health’s Helpline: 6389 2222
- Singapore Association for Mental Health Helpline: 1800 283 7019
Alternatively, check out a list of international helplines here.
But if someone is at immediate risk, call 24-hour emergency medical services right away.
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Featured image adapted from The Players’ Tribune.
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