American Idol Contestants You May Not Know Died

The following article includes discussions of suicide, mental health, and eating disorders.

“American Idol” has celebrated its fair share of talent over the years. The show’s most notable contestants include Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Adam Lambert, and Jennifer Hudson, to name a few. But, with success also comes sadness, as the “American Idol” family has also had to deal with some tragedy throughout the years.

Most recently, it was revealed that Season 1 contestant Nikki McKibbin had passed away. According to Pop Culture, the singer died at the age of 42 on November 1, 2020. Prior to her death, her husband, Craig Sadler, announced on his Facebook page that she had suffered a brain aneurysm and was going to be taken off life support.

“The love of my life Nikki Sadler suffered an aneurysm on Wednesday,” he said. “She was so loved that I know thousands of you will be grieving with us. There are only a few hours left for me to hold her hand and kiss her forehead,” Sandler continued, adding, “She loved so many of you and I know you loved her too.”

Sadly, McKibbin is not the only person from the “American Idol” family that has died. Keeping reading to find out more.

Leah LaBelle and boyfriend Rasual Butler both died in a car crash

Season 3 contestant Leah LaBelle and her basketball player boyfriend Rusual Butler both passed away on January 31, 2018, in a car crash in Studio City, California, per Pop Culture. Labelle was 31 years old when she died. According to TMZ, Butler was driving and crashed into parking meters and a concrete wall when losing control. The couple immediately died and it was reported that Butler had drugs and alcohol in his system.

Season 2’s Rickey Smith was found dead at 36 years old on May 5, 2016, after he was hit by a drunk driver in Oklahoma City. Alexis Cohen, who auditioned for Seasons 7 and 8, was also killed by a car at age 25 after a hit-and-run driver crashed into her in Seaside Heights, New Jersey. Joanne Borgella, from Season 7, died in October 2014 at 32 years old after a rare form of endometrial cancer spread to her brain. Another contestant from the same season, Michael Johns, also died from an enlarged heart at 35 years old.

Season 5’s Paula Godspeed, who was born Sandra May McIntyre, was so obsessed with judge Paula Abdul that she legally changed her first name to match hers. Godspeed died by suicide after a drug overdose while inside her car. She was parked near Abdul’s home in Sherman Oaks, California and passed away at age 30. According to Bangor Daily News, her family revealed she had continuously struggled with depression and eating disorders.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

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