Beyond the Lights, the romantic drama directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood (Love & Basketball), just premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 7. The film follows Noni Jean, a singer on the brink of superstardom who almost collapses under the pressure. The trailer shows her rescued from leaping off a hotel balcony by her love interest, and she lives happily ever after. But two days earlier, real-life singer Simone Battle (late of X Factor and the girl group G.R.L.) was found dead in her West Hollywood apartment, hanging from the rod of her closet bedroom, a suicide according to the Los Angeles coroner’s office.
Tweets from X Factor judges Simon Cowell, Pitbull and Paula Abdul quickly appeared on Twitter, while Battle’s father commented that though he hadn’t spoken to his daughter in a few weeks, she’d never revealed to him that she was suffering at all. The 25-year-old singer auditioned on X Factor back in 2011, making it to the Top 17 her elimination. Eventually joining G.R.L.—a 2.0 version of the Pussycat Dolls—Simone Battle seemed on the verge of success. The group sang the chorus of Pitbull’s “Wild Wild Love” and their “Ugly Heart” single recently reached number two on the Australian charts.
Now Simone Battle joins the likes of Phyllis Hyman, Rob Pilatus, record exec Chris Lighty and others who’ve succumbed to the pressures of the entertainment world to the point of suicide.
“We all are trying to hide our pain to show the world we have the perfect life,” says psychiatrist Dawn Porter. “But for people in the entertainment industry, that need is often magnified tenfold. Unfortunately, because of the nature of their business and the ‘unmet needs’ of the public, their pain is often exploited for all to see, while we, the public, feed off of it for our own guilty pleasure. As a society, we have to find healthier ways to understand, accept and release the drama and trauma of our past and present so we can reduce the pain that continues to plague our community.”