ONE Atomweight Champion Angela Lee suffered serious injuries in a car accident in 2017 that could have easily ended her career. Six years later, Lee revealed that it was not an accident, as she was trying to commit suicide.
On Tuesday, the 27-year-old Hawaiian fighter published a powerful post detailing her mental health struggles, which led to a suicide attempt in the days leading up to a scheduled fight.
According to Lee, he was going through a very difficult weight loss and his body was not responding the way it needed to lose the extra pounds before the fight. The situation eventually turned disastrous as Lee desperately sought a way out so she wouldn’t have to compete and possibly disappoint everyone by not being able to make weight as champion.
“My car accident in November 2017 was not an accident. It was a suicide attempt,” Lee said in an article written for The Players’ Tribune. “I was preparing for my last title defense of the year, things started to get worse for me. The pressure, stress and expectations began to increase. I had tunnel vision and thought this upcoming fight was the most important thing in my life. Looking back, I had everything I could want at that time, but I didn’t realize it. I didn’t fully appreciate it. Because I had reached a point where making weight for this fight was the most important thing in the world for me.
“I told myself: if you don’t make it, you will lose everything. And as an athlete, in all honesty, this mindset can be helpful and motivating. But it is also a double-edged sword. And, with me, I reached a point where I had taken my mind and body too far. I couldn’t help but think of the embarrassment that would result if I couldn’t participate in the fight. As someone who had never missed a competition in my entire life, this terrified me. It has gone global. And finally, I got to a point where I would rather remove myself from the equation than deal with what might happen. There was my head. “It was all or nothing.”
With 12 pounds to lose, Lee admitted he tried to hurt himself so he couldn’t fight. He first tried to break his arm before trying to give himself a concussion.
When that didn’t work, Lee decided to take a nighttime drive down a treacherous stretch of road in Hawaii, which would allow him to finish it all with just a turn of the wheel.
“I just put my foot on the accelerator. As far as that goes,” Lee said. “I don’t know how fast I was going. But that was the fastest my car could go. I wanted to hit the guardrail as hard as I could, and I just remember turning the wheel and swerving, then hitting something, and then just… he rolled. It rolls and rolls and rolls.
“When I opened my eyes, it was upside down. There was broken glass everywhere. I remember waiting in that car for quite a while, hanging upside down, trying to process everything. As…. I’m still here? I am alive?
After the car accident, Lee says only her husband knew the truth about what happened.
It took her months to finally come to terms with what had happened as she tried to recover from her suicide attempt.
“Of course, everything about this healing process has been a challenge,” Lee said. “It has not been easy. But every time I share my story with someone else… I still cry. The tears continue to flow. My voice still shakes. But it gets a little better each time.
“Right now, I do the best I can every day and every day is different. But I agree with that. Now I realize that I am just a human being, we all are. We are not meant to live a perfect, flawless life. I learned that this life is life. It’s about growing up and learning to accept yourself. Some days are good, others are difficult, but each day I choose to keep fighting. There are still many difficult days. But the way I get through those days is so much better now. Much healthier. I have tools to use and people I can count on to let them know how I feel.
More recently, Lee began focusing her efforts to improve mental health on a nonprofit she founded called Fightstory, where people can share their own personal battles. Her inspiration to create this nonprofit came from her own experience, as well as the tragic death of her 18-year-old sister, Victoria Lee, just over nine months ago.
“On December 26, 2022, my younger sister, Victoria, committed suicide,” Lee revealed. “Fightstory was inspired by Victoria and the extraordinary life she lived at just 18 years old. The story of the fight is as much his as it is mine. It’s something we created together, to save lives and try to make the world a better place. We want people to know that even if you feel alone in your struggle with mental health, you are not.
Lee remains committed to managing her own mental health while trying to help others facing similar issues and sending a message of support to all who need to hear it.
“If you are struggling right now, if you are in a dark place, if you are considering ending your life, let us be the one to say it, we understand. “We know how you feel,” Lee said.
“It’s not about being strong all the time. It is not necessary to pretend or pretend that everything is fine. There is so much strength in honesty and asking for help. And we can all be there for each other.