K-pop fans the world over have been left devastated by the death of former f(x) member Sulli.
The 25 year old – also known for her role in hit drama To The Beautiful You – was found dead on Monday at her home in Seongnam, Korea, by her manager who was worried when he couldn’t contact her. While her cause of death has yet to be confirmed, police are working off the assumption that the popstar took her own life.
Her passing comes just four months after she made her solo debut and – a show which now takes on a much darker meaning after Sulli’s death.
Throughout her career, Sulli was inundated with abuse from trolls who thought she was too outspoken and too sexy to be K-pop idol.
On recent pictures of Sulli not wearing a bra – like a 25 year old girl is within her right to do – comments read ‘This isn’t free spirited, this is promiscuous’; ‘Gross, she looks like she smells’; and ‘It looks sad, she’s begging for attention’.
And on a video where Sulli appeared afraid when a male fan jumped at her with a camera while out with her friends: ‘If you’re that scared, just retire’ and ‘You’re drinking alcohol at a cart bar and couldn’t predict that something like that would happen’.
The trolling got so much for Sulli that in 2014 – five years after she debuted with Amber, Victoria, Luna and Krystal in f(x) – she went on hiatus from the band, citing the malicious comments she was receiving online as the reason. Sulli quit f(x) a year later.
Since then, Sulli had continued to be abused online, with a video of an Instagram live circulating after her death showing her ask: ‘I’m not a bad person. Why are [they] talking bad about me? Tell me one thing I did to deserve this.’
So synonymous with abuse was Sulli’s career that she was selected as one of the four MCs on Night of Hate Comments – where celebrities address the cruel tweets and comments made about them.
Now, we don’t know for sure if Sulli’s death was by suicide, and if it was, we will not know all of the factors. But netizens (net citizens) on social media sites have now replaced the cruel comments about Sulli with heartbroken tweets about her passing. When somebody dies, it’s like all of the cruelty targeting them throughout their life via the same channels is forgotten by the same people who were responsible.
And the cycle has started again. Just hours after Sulli’s death, a troll asked Girl’s Day star Minah ‘do you want to go next, you b****’.
We have seen this time and time again. When Love Island’s Mike Thalassitis took his own life earlier this year social media was flooded with posts saying ‘we need to be kinder’ and calling for people to be more open about mental health and less vicious on social media.
Fast forward to Love Island 2019, and Amy Hart is mocked about her looks, Amber Gill receives death threats and Molly-Mae Hague is even trolled by high-profile celebrities.
It’s all well and good saying that we need to be kinder to people when the worst happens, but the real action needs to be taken when people are alive.
Regardless of how Sulli died, she spent the last 10 years seeing the worst comments about herself, from people she didn’t even know, spread all over the internet. She repeatedly asked for the trolls to stop, asked why she deserved such hatred, and was forced out of her band because of those people.
Now that she has passed away, everybody is rightly calling for more to be done about mental health – but we need to stop this constant cycle.
Yes, celebrities may have more money and followers than you and I, but they’re still real people with real feelings. A comment under their picture will affect them just as much as it would you and I. Now imagine that comment multiplied by 1,000, happening every day. It would be unbearable.
I’m not blaming any one person for what happens to these musicians and reality stars, but to act like trolling isn’t part of the problem is foolish. If we want to stop losing young stars, we need to be kinder, more understanding, better.
Remember Sulli for her music, her acting roles, her feminism and her refreshing individuality. And remember her by being better.
Need support? Contact the Samaritans
For emotional support you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email [email protected], visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.
MORE: Shinhwa’s Dongwan hits out at treatment of mental illness in entertainment industry after Sulli’s death