Hong Kong-born American singer Coco Lee, the first Mandopop superstar to break into the American market and release an English album globally, died at the age of 48 on Wednesday.
In a social media post, her sisters Nancy and Carol said that the popular singer — who had been battling with depression — attempted suicide on Sunday.
“With great sadness, we are here (to) break the most devastating news: Coco had been suffering from depression for a few years but her condition deteriorated drastically over the last few months.
“Although Coco sought professional help and did her best to fight depression, sadly that demon inside of her took the better of her,” her sisters said.
They added that Lee was taken to the hospital after she attempted suicide at home on Sunday.
“Despite the best efforts of the hospital team to rescue and treat her from her coma, she finally passed away on Wednesday,” they said.
Born Ferren Lee, Lee burst into the Mandopop scene when she was 19 in 1994 with her debut album in Taiwan, charming fans with her powerful vocals, slick dance moves and a bubbly image. Her wide vocal range, reportedly spanning three octaves, earned her the reputation as the “Mariah Carey of Asia”.
She was crowned the winner of the fourth season of Chinese reality show, I Am A Singer, in 2016. She is also well-known for performing the theme songs of Disney animated film Mulan and Lee Ang’s Wuxia film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
Lee’s sisters said she had “worked tirelessly to open up a new world for Chinese singers in the international music scene, and she went all out to shine for the Chinese”.
“We hope that everyone will not only miss Coco, but also share her bright smile, treat everyone with sincerity, kindness and love, and continue her wish to let everyone around feel her love and happiness,” they said.
Lee had previously said on her Instagram account that her goal in 2023 was to share her life story and how she kept a positive attitude despite facing major obstacles.
In her New Year’s Eve post in 2022, she wrote: “Love and faith – my two favourite words that I carry strongly in my heart which I desperately needed to get through this incredibly difficult year.”
The post was accompanied by nine photos, including a tattoo of the word “love” on her left wrist and a photo of herself with what appeared to be a drainage bag on her body.
“Life seemed unbearable at times, but I adapted the attitude of a ‘female warrior’ to face them head-on fearlessly,” she wrote.
In March, she posted on social media that she had to learn to walk again after undergoing a major leg surgery. She said went overboard during a dance practice, which triggered an old leg injury.
In a video she posted days after her surgery, she is seen walking slowly with a walker and a nurse by her side. She then goes home in a wheelchair and cries when she sees the “welcome home” teddy bear prepared by her family.
Lee also disclosed that she was born with a defect in her left leg. A surgery done when she was two years old was unsuccessful, so she had to rely on her right leg to support her body for most of her life.
- Institute of Mental Health’s Mental Health Helpline: 6389-2222 (24 hours)
- Samaritans of Singapore: 1800-221-4444 (24 hours) /1-767 (24 hours)
- Singapore Association for Mental Health: 1800-283-7019
- Silver Ribbon Singapore: 6386-1928
- Tinkle Friend: 1800-274-4788
- Community Health Assessment Team 6493-6500/1
- TOUCHline (Counselling): 1800-377-2252
- TOUCH Care Line (for seniors, caregivers): 6804-6555
- Care Corner Counselling Centre: 6353-1180
This article was originally published on The Straits Times.