Content Warning: This article discusses suicide and substance abuse. If you or someone you know is affected by the following story, you are not alone. To speak to someone, you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14, or 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732.
Aussie singer-songwriter Sia apologised for portraying autism in her directorial debut, even though the film picked up two Golden Globe nominations – then she disappeared.
Sia has finally revealed the true depth of the crisis which led to her disappearance from the public eye, in a New York Times profile on friend and confidant Kathy Griffin.
“I was suicidal and relapsed and went to rehab,” Sia told the publication.
“She [Griffin] saved my life.”
The catalyst was the public backlash from 2021’s Music, the “love letter” to care givers and the autism community that Sia wrote and directed, starring Kate Hudson and Maddie Ziegler as the movie’s non-verbal protagonist.
“The fact that Music has been nominated for two Golden Globes awards illustrates the complete disregard the entire entertainment industry has for inclusivity and minority representation,” wrote Nina Skov Jensen and Rosanna Kataja, who created just one of the anti-Music petitions.
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“It will only use autism as inspirational porn to make neurotypicals feel good about their supposed ‘superiority’.”
Sia deleted her Twitter account after acknowledging the criticism and apologising to fans.
“I’m sorry,” she wrote.
“I listened to the wrong people and that is my responsibility, my research was clearly not thorough enough, not wide enough.”
Those who knew her told media at the time that public backlash would take its toll on her.
“She is an emotional person,” Ryan Fitzgerald of Fitzy and Wippa told News.com.au.
“This will hurt her. She will be finding it really tough.”
Sia – who has said she suffers from Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, PTSD and neuralgia after a misdiagnosis of Bipolar II disorder – has had previous issues with substance abuse and suicidal ideation.
In a 2018 interview with Rolling Stone she revealed that her 2004 track ‘Breathe Me’ was written after a failed suicide attempt.
In May 2010, she reached out to a drug dealer and ordered “two of everything” except meth and heroin and, months later, began planning suicide once more.
“There must have been a part of me that really wanted to live, because in that moment, I thought, ‘There’s a world out there and I’m not a part of it. But I might like to be,'” she said of the 2010 attempt.