Coco Lee, a well-known singer-songwriter and the first Chinese American to perform at the Academy Awards, died on Wednesday at the age of 48 after a failed suicide attempt that left her in a coma.
Coco’s two sisters Carol and Nancy Lee announced her death on Chinese and U.S. social media, saying that the Hong Kong-born star had been suffering from depression in recent years and attempted suicide on Sunday, with her condition deteriorating drastically over the past few months.
“Although CoCo sought professional help and did her best to fight depressions, sadly that demon inside of her took the better of her,” the sisters wrote in a statement posted on Instagram.
“On 2 July, she committed suicide at home and was sent to the hospital. Despite the best efforts of the hospital team to rescue and treat her from her coma, she finally passed away on 5 July, 2023.”
This year marks the 30th anniversary of Coco’s singing career, during which she “won countless international acclaims with top selling songs” and “went all out to shine for the Chinese,” the statement added. “We are proud of her!”
Fans who expressed their condolences under the post also shared their own experiences of mental illness.
“The world and the music industry has just lost an amazing talent and human being. I grew up listening to Coco’s songs and some of them helped me through difficult times in my life,” one fan wrote.
“What a pity! The pain of depression is uncontrollable, and others cannot understand it! I am experiencing such pain now! Only I know how hard it is to stay alive when fighting with the disease,” another said.
Coco released a number of albums, and many of her songs became popular worldwide. For example, she performed the Oscar-nominated song “A Love Before Time” for the film “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” which took her to the Oscar stage in 2001, and voiced the female warrior Mulan in the Mandarin-language version of Disney’s “Mulan.”
Depression is a growing public health concern worldwide, according to data from the World Health Organization. Nearly 280 million people around the world have depression, which is some 50 percent more common among women than men. In China, the WHO estimates that about 54 million people suffer from depression.