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Crazy Rich Asians’ Constance Wu reveals she attempted suicide after Twitter backlash

The actress said the vitriol she faced after her tweets about her show Fresh Off The Boat in 2019 “convinced me to end my own life”.

Actress Constance Wu, known for her lead roles in box-office hits Crazy Rich Asians and Hustlers, posted a lengthy heartfelt statement on social media, revealing her suicide attempt after receiving backlash for a series of tweets she wrote about her popular television show Fresh Off The Boat in 2019.

In a statement posted on Twitter on Friday (Jul 15), which marked her return to social media after three years, Wu also announced her autobiographical book, Making A Scene.

"I was afraid of coming back on social media because I almost lost my life from it: Three years ago, when I made careless tweets about the renewal of my TV show, it ignited outrage and internet shaming that got pretty severe," wrote the 40-year-old actress.

"I felt awful about what I'd said, and when a few DMs from a fellow Asian actress told me I'd become a blight on the Asian American community, I started feeling like I didn't even deserve to live anymore. That I was a disgrace to AsAms, and they'd be better off without me."

The tweets in question were published in 2019, after it was announced that Wu’s sitcom Fresh Off The Boat was renewed for its sixth season.

Wu played family matriarch Jessica Huang in the comedy about a Taiwanese-American family living in Florida in the 1990s.

“So upset right now that I’m literally crying,” Wu tweeted back in 2019. “Ugh. F***” and “F******* hell.” When a Twitter user said the show’s renewal was “great news,” Wu responded, saying, “No it’s not.”

Wu later apologised and clarified that her words were "ill timed".

"I love FOTB (Fresh Off The Boat)," she explained in a follow-up message.  "I was temporarily upset yesterday not (because) I hate the show but (because) its renewal meant I had to give up another project that I was really passionate about. So my dismayed social media replies were more about that other project and not about FOTB."

Constance Wu plays matriarch Jessica Huang in Fresh Off The Boat. (Photo: ABC)

Wu also revealed in the statement that it was a “scary moment” that made her “reassess a lot” and focus on her mental health. It can be especially difficult to be frank about mental health in the Asian-American community, Wu added.

“Looking back, it’s surreal that a few DMs (direct messages) convinced me to end my own life, but that’s what happened,” Wu wrote. “Luckily, a friend found me and rushed me to the ER… For the next few years, I put my career aside to focus on my mental health.”

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly about writing her life experiences into her new memoir, Making A Scene, Wu said it was “a tribute to the people and events that have shaped my humanity and determined the direction of my life”.

"Writing it taught me to look back on formative memories with curiosity and attention, rather than my old patterns of judgment and shame,” she said. “It was a practice I found healing and heartening. My hope for this book is that it might encourage readers to look at their own lives in this way, too. My hope is that it will be helpful."

Keeping a relatively low profile since 2019’s Hustlers, Wu recently starred with Chris Pratt in the Amazon Prime action series The Terminal List and will next be seen on the big screen in the kids adventure Lyle Lyle Crocodile.

“While we’re quick to celebrate representation wins, there’s a lot of avoidance around the more uncomfortable issues within our community,” Wu also wrote, adding that many of her Asian-American colleagues “decided that was the time to avoid me or ice me out”.

She added: “I’ll admit it hurt a lot, but it also made me realise how important it is to reach out and care for people who are going through a hard time.”

Toward the end of her statement, Wu shared that “after a little break from Hollywood and a lot of therapy”, she feels prepared to step back into the public eye little by little.

“Even though I’m scared, I’ve decided that I owe it to the me-of-three-years-ago to be brave and share my story so that it might help someone with theirs."

Where to get help:

National Care Hotline: 1800 202 6868

National Anti-Violence Helpline: 1800 777 0000

Samaritans of Singapore Hotline: 1800 221 4444

Institute of Mental Health’s Helpline: 6389 2222

Singapore Association of Mental Health Helpline: 1800 283 7019

AIC Hotline (for aged and community care support): 1800 650 6060

You can also find a list of international helplines here. If someone you know is at immediate risk, call 24-hour emergency medical services.

Source: CNA/gl