Kim Jonghyun, SHINee’s lead vocalist has passed away. According to the police, Jonghyun was found unconscious in a residential hotel in Seoul on Monday afternoon and rushed to the hospital. He had inhaled carbon monoxide from burning coal briquettes in a pan. His sister had alerted the authorities after Jonghyun sent her a series of suicidal texts saying, “It’s been hard”, “Let me go. Tell me I’ve worked hard. This is my farewell.” His death was made official on Monday evening. He was only 27.
Jonghyun’s sudden passing came as a shock to the entire K-pop world. There seemed to be little to no warning signs of his suicidal tendencies, but the heartbreaking truth is, Jonghyun had long shown signs of depression. In the short time since news of his death broke, many revelations have come to light. Shawols and media outlets recalled the times where Jonghyun spoke openly of his personal struggles, be it in interviews embedding it in his song lyrics – he often spoke of sadness and his depression back when he was a radio show DJ on Blue Night.
Even his last Instagram post, which was a screen grab of Dear Cloud’s ‘Beside You’, bore poignant lyrics that hinted of his heavy mind. Jonghyun captioned it, “I pray you aren’t hurting”. Posted on 20 November, his upload didn’t seem out of the ordinary in a year filled with constant publicity.
— 리나 (@JHJH_Lena) December 17, 2017
Apart from his two solo concerts in early December, Jonghyun was also working hard for his comeback. The singer had even filmed an MV and participated in album jacket filming three days prior to his death. “His new song had a bright vibe. He seemed the same as usual on the MV set. I couldn’t feel at all that he was struggling all this time.” For those who watched the teaser of JTBC’s Night Goblin where Jonghyun makes what’s possibly his last TV appearance, his cheerful façade belies his inner turmoil. The short clip of the upcoming Sunday episode has since been taken off JTBC’s YouTube channel.
Especially in Korea, where mental health topics are still regarded as taboo, Jonghyun’s acknowledgement and continuous outspokenness on his depression was not only a brave gesture, but one that had helped many fans through their own dark times.
Jonghyun, your voice helped me when i needed it most, when i was going through hard times and when i was going through happy times you were always there for me, you were there for all of us. Thank you so much for giving me joy and hope, for soothing my heart and soul.
— 존횬~~ (@ontokkiland) December 18, 2017
He was one that helped me get through my depression and convinced me not to kill myself and now he is gone. I am in school crying. Nobody here understand why I'm crying and shaking and I, I just feel broken.
Prayers for his family and friends and the other members. https://t.co/6S4urQuuzw
— RIP Jonghyun😞 WE WILL MISS YOU💔 (@miss_seokjin) December 18, 2017
This breaks my heart because his cover of a million roses always helped me through hard times no matter what the situation was, now when I listen to it I’ll think of him #RosesForJonghyun pic.twitter.com/U659r21CbP
— hanna ♡ jonghyun (@jiaerkiss) December 18, 2017
not to be corny or saddening but I just received my honors society certificate for academic excellence and I bursted into tears because shinee helped me so much throughout my freshman year, I would’ve struggled so much if I didn’t have them with me. I owe to them and jonghyun.
— I love you Jonghyun (@onheaux) December 19, 2017
the fact that some people don’t believe that kpop can help your mental health is ridiculous. the music and positive role models that i have found over the past several years have helped me more than you know.
— Rest In Peace Jonghyun (@yurabiased) December 19, 2017
jonghyun helped me through some of my toughest times. his words, his music, him. he helped me be happy. i hope he watches over all of us with a soft smile, and i hope that one day i can see his shining face again.
— you did well jonghyun, so well (@nsfwggs) December 19, 2017
Guys. Depression is a serious matter. So please please, don’t ever think “i’ll keep it on the inside cause that’s the safest place to hide”. But, Just say it louder to anyone who you trust. Don’t fight alone. Remember that even the strongest need someone to lean on.
— tiny 🐢 (@KJH_NOONA) December 18, 2017
Jonghyun was filming Night Goblin happily. He was even preparing for his solo comeback and had finished filming his MV.
It only takes a moment for that demon in our head to take control of our mind and decide "This is the perfect moment to die."
Don't underestimate depression.
— 🕊 (@guanlinnet) December 18, 2017
The release of Jonghyun’s farewell letter, which he had entrusted to Dear Cloud’s Nine9, is a heartbreaking read. And along with its release onto social media came even stronger waves of support advocating for mental health awareness. Perhaps the most painful realisation is that you truly never know who may be suffering. As one of K-pop’s brightest stars, Jonghyun always kept smiling. As a result of his playful personality, he was given quirky, affectionate nicknames by fans – he lived up to each one. Jonghyun never seemed to stop shining.
*Warning, the contents of this letter may be triggering*
[FULL TRANSLATION] Dear Cloud Nine9's post about Jonghyun, containing his final note.
— Stella ♡ (@SonexStella) December 18, 2017
Offstage, nobody knew the extent of his dark thoughts. According to reports by Dispatch, Jonghyun often struggled when it came to music – his personal expectations troubled him greatly and he spoke about “getting bumped down as he gets older”. With the cutthroat culture of the entertainment industry, it is often forgotten that K-pop idols aren’t hit-churning machines. Just like their fans, they are human too.
R.I.P. Jonghyun of SHINee i go to Korea often and depression is a topic not often discussed, therapy is almost taboo cause of the country’s “just get over it” attitude. Hope this a wake-up call to the whole industry over there.
— dummies (@dumbfoundead) December 18, 2017
full body chills and my chest hurts after hearing the news about jonghyun. so so heartbroken. shinee were my first kpop love and i have so much respect for the members. mental health is just so incredibly important for everyone in all walks of life, if you're hurting, please talk
— Thomston (@ThomstonMusic) December 18, 2017
You will never stop shining. Rest in peace, Jonghyun.
Featured image: SM Entertainment