Why did Jesy Nelson quit Little Mix? Cyberbullying affected her mental health to point of suicidal behavior
Singer Jesy Nelson of the British four-piece girl group Little Mix, formed on the eighth series of ‘The X Factor’ in 2011, has left Little Mix after nine years. The 29-year-old released a statement on Instagram, saying the pressure of being in the girl band had impacted her mental health while explaining her decision to part ways.
"The truth is being in the band has really taken a toll on my mental health. I find the constant pressure of being in a girl group and living up to expectations very hard," she told her 7.4 million followers on Instagram, adding that she was quitting the band "with a heavy heart", but needed to "spend time with the people I love" and "embark on a new chapter".
Last month, a statement from the group’s PR Simon Jones announced that Nelson was taking a break. The statement read: “Jesy is having extended time off from Little Mix for private medical reasons. We will not be issuing any further comment currently and ask media to please respect her privacy at this time.”
The news of Nelson’s departure was also announced on the band’s official Instagram page. “After an amazing 9 years together Jesy has made the decision to leave Little Mix. This is an incredibly sad time for all of us but we are fully supportive of Jesy. We love her very much and agree that it is so important that she does what is right for her mental health and well-being,” the statement said.
It further read, “We are still very much enjoying our Little Mix journey and the 3 of us are not ready for it to be over. We know that Jesy leaving the group is going to be really upsetting news for our fans. We love you guys so much and are so grateful for your loyalty and continued support of all of us. We’re looking forward to seeing so many of you on tour.”
Nelson’s mental health has come under strain several times in the past. She was deeply affected by trolling on social media and suffered from an eating disorder and depression and had once even attempted suicide. Nelson’s troubles and her eventual recovery was the subject of the 2019 BBC Three documentary ‘Jesy Nelson: Odd One Out’. In the intimate, personal documentary, she opened up about the effects cyberbullies have had on her life. It documented how this affected the dynamics within the band and how it impacted the group’s ability to perform.
She said, “It only got worse when I got Twitter. And that led to the Daily Mail and reading the comments -- the worst you can read about yourself. It was like I purposely wanted to hurt myself.”
“I had a routine of waking up, going on Twitter, searching for the worst things I could about myself,” she said. “I’d type in the search bar, ‘Jesy fat’, or ‘Jesy ugly’, and see what would come up. Sometimes I didn’t even need to do that, I’d just write ‘Jesy’ and then I’d see all the horrible things. Everyone told me to ignore it -- but it was like an addiction.”
Nelson had been bullied at school, to the point of stress-induced alopecia. But online bullying had a worse effect. “It was like as soon as people knew that it was really affecting me, they wanted to do it more. But this wasn’t playground stuff”.
“Obviously everyone sits in their living room and will see someone on TV and make a comment. But to actually pick up your phone and go: ‘I’m going to make sure this girl sees it’ -- even if they didn’t think I was going to see it -- you have no idea the effect that one comment will have,” she said.
Reportedly, she said her lowest point came after Little Mix returned to ‘The X Factor’ in 2013 and Nelson’s appearance again drew criticism, and the singer attempted suicide. Coverage centered on one tweet from Katie Hopkins, that said, “Packet Mix have still got a chubber in their ranks. Less Little Mix. More Pick n Mix.” Earlier this year, Hopkins was permanently banned from Twitter.
“I felt that I physically couldn’t tolerate the pain anymore,” she said. “It was a long, hard process because I didn’t want to help myself. But it wasn’t until I deleted Twitter that everything changed for me and I slowly started to feel normal again.”
Following that, through regular therapy and talking to friends and family, eventually, Nelson was reportedly able to stop reading articles about herself, and distance herself from her public image.
If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also speak with a trained crisis counselor 24/7 by texting HOME to 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line.