After a lifetime of music, dotted with controversy and strife, Sinead O’Connor might now know peace. The singer passed away on Wednesday, July 26 at the age of 56, according to The New York Post. Her cause of death was not made publicly available.
Sinead’s family released a statement mourning her death. “It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved Sinéad. Her family and friends are devastated and have requested privacy at this very difficult time,” they said in a statement to The Irish Times.
Sinead’s death comes over a year and a half after her son Shane died by suicide at 17 in January 2022. One of the singer’s last tweets was a tribute to him on July 17. “Been living as undead night creature since. He was the love of my life, the lamp of my soul. We were one soul in two halves. He was the only person who ever loved me unconditionally. I am lost in the bardo without him,” she wrote.
Sinead was married four times and had four children. She and music producer John Reynolds wed in 1987 and welcomed a son, Jake, and a daughter, Roisin. The duo divorced in 1991. She married British journalist Nick Monerland in 2001. They called it quits in 2004, the same year she and musician Donal Lunny welcomed her late son, Shane. In 2006, she and Frank Bonadio welcomed Yeshua Francis Neil Bonadio. Sinead married for a third time in 2010 to Steve Cooney. They separated in 2011, and later that year, she married Irish therapist Barry Herridge. The couple would separate shortly afterward and have a nebulous relationship for years afterward.
Sinead battled tragedy and health issues at the start of 2022. The body of her seventeen-year-old son, Shane O’Connor, was discovered on Jan. 7, two days after he went missing, per CNN. “My beautiful son, Nevi’im Nesta Ali Shane O’Connor, the very light of my life, decided to end his earthly struggle today and is now with God. May he rest in peace, and may no one follow his example. My baby. I love you so much. Please be at peace,” O’Connor tweeted.
A week after this tragedy, she was admitted to the hospital, after sharing a series of disturbing Twitter posts that indicated she was going to commit suicide. “I’ve decided to follow my son. There is no point living without him. Everything I touch, I ruin. I only stayed for him. And now he’s gone,” she wrote on an unverified Twitter account associated with her. An hour after this tweet, she let her followers know she was “on way to [the] hospital. I’m sorry I upset everyone. I am lost without my kid, and I hate myself. Hospital will help a while. But I’m going to find Shane. This is just a delay.”
Sinead battled with mental health and self-destructive issues throughout her life. In a now deleted-Facebook post, Sinead claimed in 2015 that she tried to kill herself via overdose after a clash with her family. “I’m invisible. I don’t matter a shred to anyone. No one has come near me. I’ve died a million times already with the pain of it,” she wrote. Sinead was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and borderline personality disorder. She wrote about how her abusive mother and childhood trauma played into her 2015 breakdown, per PEOPLE.
“I describe myself as a rescue dog: I’m fine until you put me in a situation that even slightly smells like any of the trauma I went through, then I flip my lid,” she wrote in her 2021 memoir, Rememberings. “I manage very well because I’ve been taught brilliant skills. There was a lot of therapy. It’s about focusing on the things that bring you peace as opposed to what makes you feel unstable.”
Born Sinéad Marie Bernadette O’Connor and adopting the name Shuhada Sadaqat after converting to Islam in 2018 (per the Irish Post), the singer first gained fame with the release of her debut album, 1987’s The Lion and the Cobra. It received critical acclaim and a Best Female Rock Vocal Performance nomination at the 1988 Grammy Awards. The sophomore release, 1990’s I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got, contained her cover of “Nothing Compares 2 U,” a song written by Prince and originally recorded by his side-project, The Family. The song reached No. 1 on the UK Singles chart and the US’s Billboard Hot 100.
The moment that came to define Sinead’s entry in the pop culture history books took place on the October 3, 1992, episode of Saturday Night Live. Appearing on the program as the musical guest, Sinead sang an a capella version of Bob Marley’s “War,” an intended protest against the sexual abuse of children in – and subsequent cover-up by – the Catholic church. Sinead held up a photo of Pope John Paul II, sang the word “evil,” and tore the picture into pieces. “Fight the real enemy,” she said. The move received widespread condemnation from Catholics.
The SNL performance sadly marked the start of a career downturn for Sinead, as she would never reach the same level of mainstream American success and she did with “Nothing Compares 2 U.” Her latter-day career would be more known for controversy and clashing with celebs like Miley Cyrus, Kim Kardashian, and Madonna. Yet, her indomitable spirit saw her defy her detractors and she continued to perform until her final days.
Sinead’s SNL performance was in support of her third album, Am I Not Your Girl?. She would record and perform for the next twenty years, with her last album being 2014’s I’m Not Bossy, I’m The Boss. It was her best-received album in years, with The Guardian calling it “ablaze with indignation, lust, and hopelessness,” and that the proclaimed fiction elements of the album “a triumph of storytelling.”
In November 2020, she postponed her 2021 tour and entered a year-long treatment for trauma and addiction. “I had a very traumatic six years, and this year was the end of it, but now recovery starts,” she tweeted. She apologized for delaying the shows and said that though the music industry is “a very unforgiving place for artists who need to postpone due to emotional or mental health issues,” focusing on her health would make her a better performer in the future.
HollywoodLife has reached out to a representative for Sinead for comment.
This is a developing story.