K-Pop star Jonghyun, born Kim Jong-hyun, was found dead in his Seoul, South Korea apartment on Monday evening, according to BBC News. The 27-year-old was famed as the lead singer of the boy band SHINee.
Police say that Jonghyun’s older sister had reported her brother was acting irrationally. She was sent a text message from him that read, “I’ve had a hard time. Please let me go and say that I did a good job. This is my last word.” Jonghyun was later found unconscious in the apartment, where investigators found coal briquettes burnt in a frying pan. Officials believe he died from carbon monoxide poisoning, and suicide is being considered as a possibility.
SHINee, of which Jonghyun was one of five members, released six albums in South Korea and another five in Japan, the most recent of which, Five, arrived this past February. They capped their 10-city, 25-show tour behind the album just eight days ago. The group appeared in the 2012 film I AM and the 2015 documentary SMTown: The Stage, and were named honorary ambassadors to Gangnam district in 2013. Jonghyun also had a solo career that saw him release one full-length, an EP, and two compilation albums between 2015 and April of this year.
Singers in the high-pressure South Korean celebrity pop industry are often tightly controlled by their management agencies and record labels while simultaneously being held to unrealistic standards by the public. Suicide rates among people in their teens to 30s are incredibly high in the country, and celebrities are no exception. In fact, some studies have found a spike in suicides among young people following celebrity suicides that are covered intensively in the media.