Hollywood actress Constance Wu has revealed that she attempted to take her own life after facing a social media backlash.
Known for her roles in “Crazy Rich Asians” and “Hustlers,” Wu abruptly left social media in 2019 after making what she called “careless” comments about her displeasure over the renewal of “Fresh off the Boat,” a TV series she was starring in, which she said “ignited outrage and internet shaming that got pretty severe.”
On learning of the renewal of the show, where she played a no-nonsense mother of an immigrant family, Wu fired off tweets featuring expletives, stating that she was “so upset.” Her comments sparked criticism online, and she later explained to her fans that appearing in the show would take her away from an unspecified passion project, before quitting social media.
After a three-year hiatus, Wu said in a statement Thursday that the episode had pushed her to attempt suicide. She said she was “a little scared” to return to social media.
“This next part is hard to talk about . . . but I was afraid of coming back on social media because I almost lost my life from it,” she said.
She added that the social media backlash to her 2019 comments, especially from fellow Asian Americans, made her feel like a “blight” on her community. “I started feeling like I didn’t even deserve to live anymore. That I was a disgrace to AsAms, and they’d be better off without me,” she said using an abbreviation.
“Looking back, it’s surreal that a few DMs convinced me to end my own life, but that’s what happened. Luckily, a friend found me and rushed me to the ER.”
Wu, who grew up in Richmond, Va., and is the child of Taiwanese immigrants, said the “scary moment” forced her to reassess her life and career and prioritize her mental health.
Wu’s leading role in “Crazy Rich Asians” in 2018 catapulted her to international fame and led to a Golden Globe nomination for her portrayal of a professor who travels to Singapore to meet her partner’s family and encounters extreme wealth. More broadly, the movie, based on a novel by Kevin Kwan, was celebrated for breaking stereotypes and for its Asian American representation.
“AsAms don’t talk about mental health enough,” Wu said in her statement. “While we’re quick to celebrate representation wins, there’s a lot of avoidance around the more uncomfortable issues within our community.”
Adding, “If we want to be seen, really seen . . . we need to let all of ourselves be seen, including the parts we’re scared of or ashamed of – parts that, however imperfect, require care and attention.”
A national study in 2007 reported that while nearly 18% of the general U.S. population sought mental health services in a 12-month period, only 8.6% of Asian Americans did so.
Fear of stigma as well as pressure to be a “model minority,” to academically succeed and to care for parents and community were among the issues that led to mental health stresses, according to psychiatrists at McLean Hospital, a mental health hospital in Belmont, Mass.
Almost 20% of American adults – some 50 million people – experienced a mental health illness in 2019, according to national nonprofit Mental Health America, with over half of adults not receiving treatment. Suicidal ideation and thoughts have continued to rise every year since 2011, it added. Echoing other reports, it found that young White Americans were the most likely to receive mental health treatment, while “Asian youth were least likely to receive mental health care.”
This week, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline launched a new three-digit number allowing people to call or text 988 to route them to a hotline of trained counselors starting Saturday. It will be available across the United States.
Wu also shared details for suicide prevention and support alongside her statement and added that she had written a memoir “Making a Scene” detailing more about her life and experiences. She said she hoped her book would “help people talk about the uncomfortable stuff in order to understand it, reckon with it, and open pathways to healing.”
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If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org. You can also text a crisis counselor by messaging the Crisis Text Line at 741741.