MMA Star Angela Lee Reveals Mental Health Battle, Suicide Attempt, and Tragic Loss of Sister Victoria Lee
On 19 September, Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) star Angela Lee opened up about her mental health struggles and attempted suicide.
Sharing her story through an article in The Players’ Tribune, Lee broke her silence on a topic that has been taboo for her until now.
Her attempted suicide involved a car crash in 2017, which she initially disguised as a car accident, claiming she had fallen asleep at the wheel.
MMA Star Opens Up About Mental Health Struggle and Suicide Attempt
In the piece titled Resilient, Lee wrote, “Six years ago, I tried to end my life. My car crash in November 2017 was not an accident. It was a suicide attempt.”
She acknowledged the difficulty of discussing the traumatic event but emphasised that sharing her story might be worth it if it could save someone else’s life.
Her struggles with mental health date back to 2017, when she was just 20 years old.
Although she had achieved unprecedented success by becoming the first female world champion in the history of ONE Championship, she grappled with immense internal and external pressures.
In that same year, she also bought a brand new car, met her husband and got engaged to Brazillian MMA fighter Bruno Pucci.
“Life was good,” she added.
Being part of young and successful narratives, Lee felt immense pressure to perform according to both her own and the public’s expectations.
While preparing to defend her championship title, Lee was spiralling into a destructive cycle. She was consumed by the idea that this upcoming fight defined her worth.
She thought, “If you don’t get this done, you’ll lose everything.”
Upon reflection, Lee realised she had everything she could have ever wanted at the time but had not come to fully recognise and appreciate it.
Lee started the fight with the heaviest weight she’d ever been.
She disclosed her struggle with weight loss leading up to the fight, describing a repetitive routine involving hot baths and towel wraps.
“I went to my room, and I broke down crying. I remember pacing through my room and walking over to the scale. I get on, and look down, and it says that I still have 12 pounds to lose.”
The hardest part for her was not having anyone to talk to about what she was dealing with.
She was too scared to speak up and tell people she was struggling and was too afraid of what her family or the world would think of her.
Attempts to Escape the Fight
Lee also talked about her attempts to escape the fight consuming her existence at the time.
“At one point, when everyone else in my house was asleep, I went to the bathroom and literally tried to break my own arm. Then I tried to give myself a concussion,” she said.
Failing to do so, she decided to take her life by crashing her car. She got in her car at about 4am and “left it up to fate to see what happens next”.
She decided she would attempt suicide near a highway she would take to get to the gym. She described that there’s a bend at one stretch of the road.
“On one side, there’s a mountain, and on the other side, there’s a gulch. It basically just drops off from there.”
However, as Lee sped down that road and got to that spot, she couldn’t do it the first time and drove past the area.
But after building up more courage, she returned the second time and pressed her foot down on the gas pedal as far down as it would go.
“When I opened my eyes, I was upside down,” she said.
Thankfully, fate intervened, and Lee survived the horrific event.
Some passers-by came to the rescue and tried to help her out of her car. She recounted that she doesn’t remember much of the incident, apart from being taken away by the ambulance to the hospital.
Despite keeping her struggles to herself the entire time, Lee decided to open up to her husband Bruno, who was working overseas in Singapore at the time of the crash.
Her husband was shocked to discover that Lee’s crash was not accidental, but a deliberate act.
Heartbreaking Loss of a Sister
In the same article, Lee confirmed the devastating news that her younger sister, Victoria Lee, died by suicide on 26 December 2022.
Her sister was only 18 when she died.
The tragic loss of her younger sister inspired her to create Fightstory, a nonprofit organisation that encourages people to share their personal stories to foster connection through lived experiences.
One Person Can Make All the Difference
“Sometimes that is all we need. One person. One hand to hold. One shoulder to cry on.
“Love is the most powerful thing on Earth. More powerful than anger, sadness or fear. When we have love even the most impossible challenges become possible,” Lee wrote.
In her write-up, she emphasised the importance of reaching out if you struggle with mental health and that “hope is real”.
Grew Up with Martial Arts
Lee grew up in the world of martial arts.
Her father, Ken Lee, is a two-time championship coach, while her brother, Christian, claimed the Welterweight title in November 2022.
Nicknamed the “Unstoppable”, Lee has always lived up to her nickname when she became the youngest MMA world champion in history at just 19 years old.
Where You May Get Help
- Samaritans of Singapore: 1-767 (24-hour hotline) or 9151 1767 (24-hour CareText via WhatsApp)
- Singapore Association of Mental Health: 1800 283 7019
- Emergency helpline of the Institute of Mental Health: 6389 2222 (24-hour hotline)
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