The abrupt death of a K-pop star last week shocked the entertainment industry and fans. On Oct. 14, Sulli, an actress and former member of girl group f(x), was reported dead in her residence. Her manager discovered that she was unconscious when he arrived at her house. As the news about her suicide swept the media, fans of Sulli mourned her death online. Due to such an unexpected death of a celebrity who always displayed her bright side, the media was astounded and her family agreed to proceed with an autopsy. It was found that there was no sign of murder, confirming that the star committed suicide.
“Before anything, I would like to express my sincerest condolences to Sulli’s family, friends, and fans,” said Jasmine Ko (11), a passionate fan of K-pop. “I think almost everyone, including myself, was deeply shocked by Sulli’s death, especially because she seemed so cheerful and bright, at least in the media. I hope more people can understand the difference between hate and constructive criticism and realize the weight even a single hate comment holds.”
Along with the celebrity’s shocking death, the public suspected various driving forces that pushed her to committing suicide. After Sulli left the girl group f(x), she constantly received malicious comments online due to her actions that many saw as being controversial. Not long after it was reported that she passed away, fans found clips of Sulli’s Instagram live videos in which she teared up as she read hate comments. Sulli also spoke on numerous television programs about how she wants people to understand her and to not attack her with hateful comments. It was later found that she actually suffered with symptoms of depression caused by the unnecessary amount of digital hate she received.
“I think that celebrities especially must feel a lot of pressure because they are so much in the public eye,” said Christian Bracciano, AP Psychology teacher. “So if she was already suffering from depression, it is very realistic that that kind of online bullying would make her feel much worse and the feelings of depression stronger. Depression is serious, and it is a psychological disorder that many people go through various times, but for some people it can be especially hard to treat, especially if they do not seek help due to their overwhelming sense of hopelessness. Depression is a personal experience that has cognitively lived in that person’s mind and while they might be smiling at one moment, somewhere in them they actually feel really bad, struggling to get out because it is such a hopeless feeling.”
Although Sulli upheld her defiant, cheerful image, her abrupt suicide reflected her long fight with depression and the inundation of hate comments she constantly received. Sulli is not the only celebrity who committed suicide after going through depression. Jonghyun, a member of boy group SHINee, committed suicide in 2017 because of depression. Choi Jin-sil, an actress who starred in multiple famous dramas and films in Korea, also took her own life in 2008 due to malicious comments that led her to depression. Tragic deaths as such are manifestations of the pernicious effects that unchecked hate comments can have on celebrities.
“When Sulli’s new solo album first came out, a lot of fans, including myself, thought that it maybe meant she was becoming more accepting of herself,” said Rachel Lee (11), a big fan of Sulli. “Although the music video showed a personality disorder or mental illness, fans thought that the fact she finally stepped back from her hiatus of years in the music industry through this album meant that she gained more confidence. It is extremely unfortunate that the situation for Sulli did not turn out in the way fans and I expected. Entertainment companies must check up more often on the conditions and mental state of their celebrities, along with formulating a solution to put an end to hate comments toward celebrities before they can take away more lives.”