ONE FC atomweight champion Angela Lee has revealed that she attempted to commit suicide by crashing her car a few years ago, while also confirming for the first time that her 18-year-old sister Victoria Lee’s death late last year was also due to suicide.
“My car crash in November 2017 was not an accident. It was a suicide attempt,” Lee wrote in an article for The Players’ Tribute. “I was getting ready for my last title defense of the year, things started to snowball for me. Pressure, stress, and expectations all began to build up. I had tunnel vision and thought that this upcoming fight was the most important thing in my life. Looking back now, I had everything I could have wanted at the time, but I didn’t realize it. Didn’t fully appreciate it. Because I had gotten to a place where making weight for that fight was the biggest thing in the world to me.
“I told myself: If you don’t get this done, you’ll lose everything. And, as an athlete, in all honesty, that mentality can be useful and motivating. But it’s also a double-edged sword. And, with me, I got to a point where I had pushed my mind and body too far. I couldn’t stop thinking about the shame that would result if I wasn’t able to make the fight. As someone who had never missed any competition in her entire life, that terrified me. It became all-encompassing. And, ultimately, I got to a point where I would rather take myself out of the equation than deal with what might come. That’s where my head was at. It was all or nothing.”
After attempting break her own arm and give herself a concussion, Lee ultimately settled on a different method, driving her car off the road at high-speed.
“I just pressed my foot all the way down on the gas pedal. As far down as it would go,” Lee recalled. “I don’t know how fast I was going. But it was as fast as my car could move. I wanted to hit the guardrail as hard as I could, and I just remember turning the steering wheel and swerving and then hitting something, and then it was just … rolling. Rolling and rolling and rolling.
“When I opened my eyes, I was upside down. There was shattered glass everywhere. I remember waiting around in that car for a good bit of time, hanging upside down, just basically trying to process everything. Like…. Am I still here? Am I alive?”
Up until that moment in time everything had seemed to be going right for Lee, who was being hailed as a major female MMA star after compiling a perfect 8-0 record.
However, Lee’s story perfectly demonstrates that no one is immune to struggles with their mental health, and several years later she admits she still has her ups and downs, but says that sharing her experience helps.
“Everything about this healing process has been a challenge, of course. It has been far from easy. But with each time that I share my story with another person … I still cry. Tears still fall. My voice still trembles. But, each time, it gets a little bit better.
“At this point, I’m just trying my best each day, and every day that looks different. But I’m OK with that. I realize now that I’m only human, we all are. We aren’t meant to live a perfect, spotless life. I’ve come to learn that this life, it’s life. It’s about growing and learning to accept yourself. Some days are good, some are tough, but each day I choose to keep fighting. There are still many tough days. But how I navigate through those days is a lot better now. A lot healthier. I have tools to use and people I can count on to let them know how I’m feeling.”
Tragically, Lee also went on to confirm her younger sister Victoria, who was herself a promising young MMA fighter under the ONE FC banner with a 3-0 record, had committed suicide last year.
“On Dec. 26, 2022, my younger sister, Victoria, took her own life,” Lee confirmed while referencing her non-profit charity Fightstory, whose mission is to ‘champion a global community of mental wellness through combat sports’.
“Fightstory was inspired by Victoria and the remarkable life that she lived at just 18 years old. Fightstory is just as much hers as it is mine. It’s something we created together, to save lives and to try and make the world a better place. We want people to know that although you may feel lonely in your fight with mental health, you are not alone.
“If you are struggling right now, if you are in a dark place, if you are contemplating ending your life, let us be the ones to say, we understand. We know how you feel
“It’s not about being strong all the time. You don’t need to fake it or pretend that everything is OK. There is so much strength in honesty and in asking for help. And we all can be there for each other.”