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Angela Lee reveals that she attempted suicide, says Victoria took her own life

LockerRoom Team
20 September 2023

In a candid and emotional revelation, Angela Lee, the reigning ONE Atomweight champion, recently opened up about a harrowing suicide attempt that occurred in 2017. The revelation comes six years after a severe car crash that, until now, was believed to be an accident. In a heartfelt article published on Tuesday, the 27-year-old Hawaiian fighter shared the traumatic details of her battle with mental health, which had driven her to the brink of despair on the eve of a scheduled fight.

Lee's shocking admission sheds light on the immense pressures faced by professional athletes, particularly in the realm of weight management and the relentless pursuit of perfection in their craft. Angela Lee, known for her resilience and determination inside the cage, disclosed that she had reached a breaking point during an arduous weight cut, leading to her contemplating suicide as an escape from the mounting stress and fear of letting others down.

"My car crash in November 2017 was not an accident. It was a suicide attempt," Lee revealed in a poignant article penned for The Players’ Tribune. "I was getting ready for my last title defence of the year, things started to snowball for me. Pressure, stress, and expectations all began to build up. I had tunnel vision and thought that this upcoming fight was the most important thing in my life. Looking back now, I had everything I could have wanted at the time, but I didn’t realize it. Didn’t fully appreciate it. Because I had gotten to a place where making weight for that fight was the biggest thing in the world to me."

Lee confessed that the prospect of missing the weight cut and the ensuing shame were unbearable for her, pushing her to extreme measures. With 12 pounds to shed, she resorted to self-harm in an attempt to sabotage her own participation in the fight. First, she tried to break her own arm and later attempted to give herself a concussion. When those efforts failed, she embarked on a late-night drive along a perilous stretch of highway in Hawaii with the intent to end her life.

"I just pressed my foot all the way down on the gas pedal. As far down as it would go," Lee recalled. "I don’t know how fast I was going. But it was as fast as my car could move. I wanted to hit the guardrail as hard as I could, and I just remember turning the steering wheel and swerving and then hitting something, and then it was just … rolling. Rolling and rolling and rolling."

Fortunately, Angela Lee survived the accident, finding herself upside down in her car with shattered glass all around. Her story remained a closely guarded secret, known only to her husband in the aftermath of the crash.

The road to recovery was long and arduous for Lee, who had to come to terms with her suicide attempt and work towards healing both physically and mentally. She shared, "Everything about this healing process has been a challenge, of course. It has been far from easy. But with each time that I share my story with another person … I still cry. Tears still fall. My voice still trembles. But, each time, it gets a little bit better."

Lee has since channelled her experiences into a nonprofit organization called Fightstory, inspired by her own struggles and the tragic loss of her 18-year-old sister, Victoria Lee, who took her own life on December 26, 2022. Fightstory aims to provide a platform for individuals to share their personal battles with mental health and combat the stigma associated with it.

Angela Lee remains committed to her own mental health journey and endeavours to help others facing similar challenges. Her message is clear: "If you are struggling right now, if you are in a dark place, if you are contemplating ending your life, let us be the ones to say, we understand. We know how you feel. It’s not about being strong all the time. You don’t need to fake it or pretend that everything is OK. There is so much strength in honesty and in asking for help. And we all can be there for each other."

Angela Lee's courageous revelation serves as a stark reminder that even the strongest individuals can grapple with mental health issues, and there is hope and support available for those who are struggling.

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