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R&B Singer Kehlani Hospitalized After Suicide Attempt, Internet Shaming

Dave Kotinsky, Getty Images
Dave Kotinsky, Getty Images

Rising R&B star Kehlani was hospitalized after a suicide attempt yesterday (March 28), according to a post on her now-deleted Instagram account.

“Today I wanted to leave this earth. Being completely selfish for once,” she wrote (quotes via repost on The Shade Room). “Never thought I’d get to such a low point. But…don’t believe the blogs you read…”

In case you were too busy living your life to watch this unfortunate drama unfold on social media this Monday, here’s a brief recap: The 2016 Grammy nominee and recent Zayn collaborator has been dating Cleveland Cavaliers player Kyrie Irving for the past several months. She was previously dating rapper-producer PartyNextDoor. On Monday morning, PartyNextDoor shared an Instagram post of his hand clasping another hand that — judging by the tattoos — appeared to be Kehlani’s. “After all her shenanigans, still got the r&b singer back in my bed,” he wrote. Following the chain of events this post set off, PartyNextDoor has deleted it.

Without pausing to consider whether the photo was in fact recent, or real, or whether Kehlani was even awake when it was taken (he’s holding her hand up, so there’s no way to tell) or whether she and Kyrie were even in fact still dating, a wide swath of Twitter and Instagram users checked their critical thinking skills at the door, choosing instead to serve as judge and jury for Kehlani’s perceived infidelity.

The sketchy amount of info on the situation didn’t stem a veritable ocean of insults toward the 20 year old, as #Kehlani trended on Twitter all day long. And it didn’t end at jabs toward the singer’s character and choices — many seized it as opportunity to make broad claims about women in general and even what does or does not make any woman a “hoe.” They meant “ho,” the slang for prostitute, not hoe the tool you use on your flower beds, but what Twitter insult worth its salt doesn’t include at least one misspelled word?

While others pointed out that Kehlani isn’t a stand-in for all women, no one knows what actually happened within the love triangle — and that male singers including Zayn and Chris Brown have allegedly cheated and their errors aren’t met with the same level of vitriol online — it did little to stem the tide.

Regardless of whether Kehlani, who isn’t yet old enough to get into a bar yet, did cheat in her new relationship (and she maintains that she didn’t), her choice to leave social media is understandable. And the fact that she was moved to attempt to take her own life is just plain awful, no matter the circumstance.

Upon hearing the news that Kehlani had been hospitalized, Questlove, One Republic and more public figures tweeted their support for the artist. The hashtag #StayStrongKehlani is the new trending topic, as the loudest narrative has shifted from shaming to sympathy (with a healthy side of “she’s faking it for attention” from those with dish-deep abilities to comprehend mental illness and/or human emotion).

As the social media conversation seems to turn even more toxic — Microsoft’s teen-bot-turned-oversexed-Nazi being ruined by trolls, and Wentworth Miller’s confession that internet body shaming worsened his suicidal depression are just two recent examples — are any of us learning from this at all? Or does Twitter merely facilitate a collective natural urge to “blow out someone else’s candle just to make your own seem brighter,” to quote my late mother? Will we all continue to tweet and comment without giving it 20 seconds of thought, further shaping the internet into a snowballing wad of resentful rot?

Share your thoughts in the comments below, I guess.

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