How ‘American Idol’ Suicide Led Simon Cowell To Reconsider Making Harsh Comments
Paula Goodspeed auditioned for season five of American Idol in 2006. The 27-year-old had a very unique style and personality that left everyone remembering who she was. But it was her tragic suicide after the show that rang mental health alarms. This had Simon Cowell truthfully regretting some of his harsh comments and wishing he could’ve helped her.
Paula Goodspeed Did Not Impress The Judges At Her ‘American Idol’ Audition
Goodspeed showed off her quirky personality. She said that people called her a “fashion genius.” She was a huge fan of none other than the American Idol judge herself, Paula Abdul. “She’s really cool. I’m like a really big fan.” Goodspeed proceeded to show the camera’s some of the life-size drawings that she made of Abdul who she took a liking to as a little kid. Walking into the audition room, Goodspeed said she was “nervous” and Simon began pointing out similarities in her and Abdul’s looks. “I take it as a compliment because you’re beautiful,” she said about the comparisons to Abdul. For her audition, she sang “Proud Mary” by Tina Turner. The judges immediately began laughing at her singing. Abdul said she was “speechless” in a bad way.
“That was terrible. What was that?” Randy Jackson asked, not holding back. “But I don’t think any artist on Earth could sing with that much metal in your mouth anyway,” Cowell said about Goodspeed’s braces. “It’s so much metal in your mouth.” He continued to go on and on about her braces while the other two judges told him having braces is actually really common. He said they were “like a bridge” in her mouth. It was no surprise that Goodspeed did not make it through to the Hollywood round. She left the room tearfully cursing out the judges. “How did she get through the metal detector?” Cowell asked. “It’s not over. I’m not going to stop singing just because you don’t like my voice” Goodspeed said in her exit interview.
Goodspeed’s Suicide Made National Headlines After Her ‘Idol’ Experience
On November 11th, 2008 Goodspeed was found dead of an apparent drug overdose in a car outside of Abdul’s home. She was 30 years old. Reuters reported that prescription pills, along with CDs and pictures of Abdul, were found in the car. Her death was ruled a suicide by overdose. “Goodspeed had not been seen since 11 p.m. Monday, and her family member thought that she might try to overdose. The family member relayed her psychiatric history including her Paula Abdul fixation,” said Ross Bonfiglio, the public information officer for the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department. The police were already familiar with Goodspeed who they suspected was stalking Abdul. According to The Associated Press, the license plate on her car read “ABL LV” and a photo of Abdul was hanging from the rear-view mirror.
“I am deeply shocked and saddened at what transpired yesterday. My heart and prayers go out to her family.” Prior to her death, Goodspeed opened up on MySpace about some of the hate she was getting after her American Idol audition. “It’s very hard reading such awful things being written about yourself,” she wrote. “Not like a lot [sic] of people would understand what it’s like having so many haters just because I made the mistake of trying out for a singing competition before I was even ready vocally, emotionally and physically.” Her family believed she was suicidal and she had a mental health evaluation before her death. Abdul reportedly already knew of Goodspeed’s troubles for several years.
Simon Cowell Regretted Not Helping Paula Godspeed Sooner
Abdul later said in a 2008 interview ‘When I heard from [‘Idol’ creator] Nigel [Lythgoe], ‘Wait ’til you see this next girl! Oh my god she changed her name for you,’ and I saw her name, I got really nervous.” She continued to say “She had been a stalker from [awhile back.] And the thing is, that all she could do was get a hold of me through my fan club.” But someone who was especially torn up about Goodspeed’s death was Cowell. “What happened was awful. My regret is that we didn’t know how troubled this person was” he told reporters. “If I had gone back in time and known what she was going through, I wish we could have spent time trying to help her, but we genuinely didn’t know.”
“When something like this has happened, it does make you take a step back,” he said. “I’ve always thought it important to show people at home that when bad singers come in and they are not very good, that it is time to give up that type of dream and take a normal job.” This has prompted many reality talent competitions to have on-set mental health resources including therapists and psychiatrists. Reality talent competitions like American Idol bring a lot of pressure and attention that raise the need for these resources to be aptly available for the contestants at all times.