Sinéad O'Connor: 'When you admit to mental illness you're treated like dirt ... that's why people die'

Robin Williams

Sinead O’Connor has attacked the way the media portrays women with mental health problems.

The Irish singer was speaking in the wake of actor Robin Williams’s death, in which she praised the compassion shown towards the star – who took his own life after suffering from depression – and hoped the same treatment could be afforded to young female sufferers in future.

“When you admit that you are anything that could be mistakenly, or otherwise, perceived as ‘mentally ill’ you know that you are going to get treated like dirt so you don’t go tell anybody and that’s why people die,” O’Connor told Sky’s Entertainment Week.

The 47-year-old singer went on to talk about the way stars such as Britney Spears and Amanda Bynes were “lynched” by the “notoriously abusive” press, simply for suffering from mental health problems. She also asked for news outlets to resist labelling young women as “crazy” and said it was important “not to buffoon delicate young ladies in the street”.

O’Connor has talked about her own battles with depression in the past, and believes women are often stigmatised for doing so. In July, she told the Observer how frank comments she had made online about sex were instantly interpreted as a sign she was ill. “It’s very interesting that people would assume that just because a woman is being open about sex it’s a symptom of her being unwell. It’s all bullshit about how females are supposed to behave in a particular manner.”

During her show at the Roundhouse in London on 13 August last week, O’Connor dedicated two songs to Williams, an a cappella version of I Am Stretched Upon Your Grave and new song Eight Good Reasons.

“It’s a very bad idea, the choice that Robin made,” she told the crowd, “and I want to dedicate this song to anyone today who may be contemplating that choice and ask anyone not to.”

Williams, who suffered from depression, killed himself at his California home. His wife Susan Schneider has since revealed he had recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

O’Connor is currently promoting her 10th album, I’m Not Bossy, I’m The Boss.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Tim Jonze, for theguardian.com on Friday 15th August 2014 12.40 Europe/London

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