Mental Health Awareness: 5 Talent Show Contestants Who Tragically Took Their Own Lives

Corey Cesare
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It’s always a hard thing to see someone you look up to take their own life. Although we will never know the true amount of suffering these talent show contestants had, we can talk about their great talents, and remember them for who they were.


1. Anthony Riley

This singer was 28 years-old when he was found dead in the basement of his Philadelphia apartment building. He was the lead contender on The Voice in season eight. All four judges fought over him during his blind auditions, and many fans thought he was going to win the competition.

Riley won his first competition during the battle rounds, then withdrew from the competition. He left the show to join rehab, and get his substance abuse under control. According to PEOPLE, the medical examiner’s office in Philadelphia said that the death was a suicide by hanging. During the last few weeks of his life, he was going between friends’ homes, rehab facilities, psychiatric wards, and hotels.

His friend summed up the final months of Anthony’s life as “torturous, delusional and at times erratic sprint. He was consumed by depression, skipping doctor appointments, going on drug binges. All the while, he was recording the best music of his life.”



2. Jack Saunders

Saunders was a part of a five man dance group on Britain’s Got Talent. The group was called Green Force Five. But, ended up withdrawing from the show out of respect to Saunders after his death. He tragically took his life on March 17, 2019. This left his family and staff on the show devastated. His mother opened up to The Mirror and talked about how she had no idea her son was struggling.

“I don’t know why he did it, he didn’t leave a note. He didn’t have depression. He went to the doctor before christmas because he was feeling tired and they never spotted any problems,” she said. “It’s just shocked everyone because to other people Jack had it all. Jack achieved more than many people could dream of achieving.”

She also discussed how she felt her son was hopeless, and lost. Hundreds of people attended a memorial event in East London for Jack. This just goes to show that even people who might seem like they have it all, don’t feel like they do.


3. Ara Starblaze aka Ariel/Amy Burdett

We’re sure you remember her 2008 X Factor audition where Simon Cowell slammed her act as an utter and complete nightmare. She left the judges speechless with her original song.

Amy Burdett was found dead at the age of 38 years-old. She was found laying in bed with an incision in her neck, and drug toxicity in her veins. Before her death, her landlord went to her home after concerns of her welfare. Burdett did not answer the door, or phone. After eight days the landlord returned and found her dead.

There was no suspicious circumstances. Assistant Coroner Sarah Watson recorded that Burdett was a “well rounded individual” who was a vocalist by profession. She said that Burdett “died as a consequence of a deliberate self inflicted injury where her intentions at that time were unclear, with a background of drugs and toxicity. She was not just a name and number, with a risk assessment, she was cared for by her family and mental health professionals.”

Her friends posted tributes about her after her passing. They all expressed that they knew she was struggling. May she rest in peace and may her music career and individuality continue to inspire others.

4. Simone Battle

Simone Battle was apart of X Factor auditions in 2011. She even had Cowell as her mentor while on the show. Soon after her X Factor time, she joined girl group, G.R.L.

On Sept. 5, 2014, Battle’s boyfriend found her hung in her West Hollywood home. According to TMZ, family sources told law enforcement that Battle had become depressed over money worries, and she was frustrated that her band had not broken through in the U.S. Her spokesperson said she also struggled with depression.

What’s even more sad about this story is that her group, G.R.L. went on to tour with Meghan Trainor in 2015. The girl group broke up for a point in time, but has since gotten back together.

5. Paula Goodspeed

We know you’ve seen the audition of this Paula Abdul super fan. The judges hated her audition. They literally laughed at her singing. Little did they know, she would soon make national headlines. On November 11, 2008 she was found dead of an apparent drug overdose outside of Paula Abdul’s house, with CDs and pictures of Abdul that were found in the car.

Goodspeed was known in the LAPD’s threat management system for stalking Abdul, so the police force knew exactly where to look for her. Abdul was at the American Idol studio when Goodspeed was found. She said “I am deeply shocked and saddened at what transpired yesterday. My heart and prayers go out to her family”.

Simon Cowell commented about how he had wished he would’ve helped her during her Idol time in an interview in 2008.

If there’s anything to take away from this article, and video, it’s that people can struggle silently. Mental health awareness is so important. Do not avoid these conversations. Please be sure to check in on friends and family members who might be struggling with mental health.

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