Tragic Details About Susan Boyle

The following article includes allegations of domestic abuse and bullying.

Susan Boyle is a world-renowned mezzo-soprano vocalist who rose to fame in 2009 after her appearance on "Britain's Got Talent." Not only did she rapidly become a leading artist within a couple of years, but her debut albums were ranked No. 1 on charts in both the United Kingdom, where she lives, and in the United States. On top of this, according to her official website, Boyle had the single bestselling pre-ordered album on Amazon in 2009, has a whopping 680 million-plus views on her "Britain's Got Talent" audition video, and was nominated for two Grammy Awards.


However, before Boyle's circumstances seemingly made a complete 180 due to her sudden fame, life hasn't always been easy for the singer. Growing up in Blackburn, Scotland, as the youngest in her family, Boyle was subjected to bullying early in her life, and some of the cruelties against the singer still persist. 

Nevertheless, Boyle has overcome her adversaries and chooses to maintain an optimistic outlook on life. To really appreciate this remarkable singer, it's important to learn about some of the struggles and tragedies that Boyle has experienced.

She was abused and bullied at school

School is supposed to be a safe space for all students. However, Susan Boyle's experiences at school were much different. "I was bullied then because I was different ... people said horrible things to me," Boyle told the Daily Mail in 2017. "My mum was up at the school every single day — bullying wasn't dealt with in schools like it is now." 


Not only did other children call her names, but they also physically harmed Boyle at school. She told the Daily Mail in 2011 that she was unfairly labeled as "hyperactive" as a way to explain her emotional sensitivities. It's hard to imagine anyone who wouldn't be sensitive in the face of such cruelty from their own peers.

Also, little was understood about learning disabilities when Boyle went to school. This added fuel to the bullies and their cruelties, but she was even abused by her teachers. Boyle told the Mirror in 2009 that the teachers would tell her to "shut up." "You're looking at someone who would get the belt every day," Boyle said, referring to beatings at school. It's hard to imagine being abused by peers, let alone your own teachers, as they are essentially the adults in the room and are supposed to protect you.


She was also abused at home

In addition to both the physical and verbal abuse she endured at school, Susan Boyle later revealed that her father had also been abusive. In an interview with the Daily Mail, Boyle said: "My father, though a very good man, had a temper. He showed it to me, and he hurt me. He didn't mean to, but I held on to this for years ... I had to let it go. You have to accept it, that's maturity." An anonymous source also confirmed Boyle's experiences, having attributed the physical violence from her father as being "due to his time in the war."


To make matters more complicated, it's also clear that Boyle's parents tried to protect her from perceived dangers. "I was protected in cotton wool," she told the Daily Mail in 2011. "They thought they were doing the right thing." 

This even went so far as to protect Boyle from romantic relationships. One boyfriend she had at 25 years old didn't gain her father's approval. "My dad decided that particular boy was not for me, and I was too immature to handle a relationship," she said.

She experienced frightening seizures at school

Susan Boyle has also revealed that she has epilepsy. This caused frequent seizures when she was a child, with some of these events leaving her unconscious. She's described how her seizures were erroneously labeled as problems with "mental function." In a 2011 interview with the Daily Mail, Boyle described her experiences with epilepsy, saying, "At school, I used to faint a lot. It's something I've never talked about. I had epilepsy. People in the public eye don't have things like that."


Also known as seizure disorder, epilepsy is defined by the American Association of Neurological Surgeons as a brain disorder that causes multiple seizures due to electrical activity. Causes can include brain injuries, oxygen deprivation at birth, and a family history of seizures.

Thankfully, invisible disabilities like epilepsy are being talked about more, including on behalf of celebrities like Boyle who have experienced it firsthand. According to National Epilepsy Training, Boyle is among several celebrities and famous figures who are known to have this brain disorder, including Elton John, Lil Wayne, and Theodore Roosevelt.

Her fiancé called off their wedding

As of publication, Susan Boyle is not married, though she was engaged at one point. In an interview with the Daily Mail in 2009, Boyle revealed that she had a short-lived but serious relationship with a man named John. This was also considered her first real romantic relationship. "He asked me to marry him after seven weeks, although we'd only ever had a peck on the cheek, but he eventually got cold feet," Boyle explained.


It would be years before Boyle would feel like she could trust anyone romantically again. "It made me sad, in a way," she went on to say. "It makes you feel unattractive; you feel that life is passing you by. But I thought, 'Maybe there's something for me later.' I was always optimistic." 

Boyle's optimism proved to be critical throughout her life, as she dealt with multiple hardships and tragedies at a young age, and it would take several years for her dream of a singing career to come true.

Her mother died in 2007

Susan Boyle's mother, Bridget Boyle, died in 2007. While her mother was 91 years old at the time of her death, this was a particularly difficult loss for Boyle, who considered her mother her best friend. Boyle's father also previously died in 1999. "At a time like that you can either be strong or go to pieces," she told the Daily Mail. "I'd lost a father, but my mother had lost a lifelong partner. They were married in 1936 and had never been apart. She was devastated." After her mother's death, Boyle told the Mirror that she not only dealt with a sense of loss and loneliness but also other mental struggles. 


"That's when the loneliness set in and there was nobody around except my cat Pebbles," she said. "When you lose someone as powerful as your mum you feel as if a part of you is taken away and that does things to your confidence."

Bridget Boyle was 47 years old when Susan was born. She was also her ninth child. Being the youngest child in the family coupled with Susan's invisible disabilities likely also brought the two closer together. However, there also was a downside to this closeness, as the Daily Mail reported that Bridget was concerned about whether her youngest daughter was able to live on her own. This would ultimately instill a sense of anxiety in Susan. As for Bridget, Susan was quoted as explaining that she lived with anxiety, too. 


She was laughed at during her first major singing debut

Susan Boyle knew from a young age that she wanted to sing. Her parents allowed her to sing in a club, and she was also active in her local Catholic church. While not everyone supported her singing aspirations, Boyle credits her mother for doing the opposite. "Music was always my bubble, though, my safe place," she told The Irish News in 2019. "It's well known that I had a tough time at school and was bullied by other children, but I did have some lovely friends and a supportive family. My mother was the greatest role model in my life and was the one who always encouraged me to sing and strive for a music career."


While Boyle had always dreamed of singing professionally, her first major audition didn't occur until she tried out for "Britain's Got Talent" in Glasgow, Scotland at 47 years old. According to the Daily Mail, she had tried out for 12 other shows before this one. At the audition, Boyle famously sang "I Dreamed a Dream," and subsequently became a celebrity.

Despite impressing the judges and viewers, Boyle was still the subject of ridicule among some of the audience members at the show's debut in 2009, who laughed at her. A few days later, The Guardian published an op-ed piece titled, "It wasn't singer Susan Boyle who was ugly on 'Britain's Got Talent' so much as our reaction to her."

She was overwhelmed by her sudden fame

As a contestant on "Britain's Got Talent," Susan Boyle surprised everyone with her beautiful voice and with the fact that she was not as "young" as many other contestants. The sudden fame was overwhelming for Susan Boyle, who described not being able to leave her home due to the amount of press surrounding her house. 


However, it wasn't just the sudden fans and media attention that made her anxious. Boyle was also uncertain how she felt now that her life seemed to be going in a positive direction. For one, Boyle grew suspicious of some of her new friendships. 

"I have insecurity that my friends won't be my friends after a while," she told the Daily Mail in 2011. "I don't sleep easily if I think that." She also described how feelings of achievement were new to her. "When I first went for 'Britain's Got Talent,' I had such a feeling of failure, and that's still part of me," she said. "It's hard when that's been the pattern of your life. It's hard to believe those patterns have been broken."

She was hospitalized following the 2009 Britain's Got Talent finale

Fans continued to love Susan Boyle throughout the 2009 season of "Britain's Got Talent." Ultimately, though, the dance group Diversity won Season 3, with Boyle being the runner-up. To say that viewers were stunned at the outcome was an understatement, as many people assumed Boyle would finish first.


Still, the second-place finish on "Britain's Got Talent" was remarkable, particularly for someone who had been through so much personally for five decades, and who regarded the show as her first major career break. 

However, both the physical and emotional toll of her work on the show also proved to be too much. Shortly after the season finale, Boyle collapsed and was hospitalized. She has also said, according to the Daily Mail, that the confusion about coming in as the runner-up may have led to a panic attack, as she feared that her career could be over.

In 2013, Susan Boyle learned she had been misdiagnosed with brain damage as a child

In 2013, Susan Boyle revealed that she had been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome. With this diagnosis also came the realization that her diagnosis of brain damage as a child was also incorrect. "I always knew it was an unfair label," Boyle told The Observer, as reported by The Guardian.


Asperger's syndrome used to be recognized as a separate condition. Since Boyle's diagnosis, Asperger's syndrome is now included under the umbrella of autism spectrum disorder. These changes were made in 2013 with the publication of the American Psychiatric Association's "DSM-5," per Cleveland Clinic.

In the same interview with The Observer, Boyle discussed how knowing the correct diagnosis offered a bit of relief because she felt she understood herself better. "It will not make any difference to my life," she said. "It's just a condition that I have to live with and work through. I think people will treat me better because they will have a much greater understanding of who I am and why I do the things I do."


In 2017, Susan Boyle revealed she was a subject of continuous bullying

Susan Boyle was the target of bullying as a child, which is something she's been candid about publicly as an adult. Her perseverance in the face of such cruelties has also shaped her into someone with an optimistic, yet fighting spirit. 


Sadly, the bullying from children hasn't stopped. In an interview with the Daily Mail, Boyle discussed how she's constantly the subject of bullying, particularly from teenagers. "They have been shouting at me, taunting, saying vile things, swearing," she said. "And on one occasion they were throwing things at the bus I was sitting on."

On top of these incidents, she's also having to deal with reliving the trauma of being bullied as a child in school. Nevertheless, Boyle remains strong and won't let these incidents drive her away from the neighborhood she grew up in. "Why would I move out because of a group of teenagers who behave like that?" she told the Daily Mail. She's also pointed to the fact that she has more fans than bullies. "I can now entertain people, make them happy. For me, it's about turning a negative into a positive."


Boyle said she regrets not having children

Susan Boyle has had a busy career, particularly ever since her sudden rise to fame in 2009 thanks to her debut on "Britain's Got Talent." Due to the incessant press coverage, it's understandable why Boyle wanted to keep her personal life just that: personal. Because of this, little is known about any family plans, though she previously revealed to Lady Magazine, "If I had a man friend it would be purely platonic — I've been on my own too long now to get married" (via the Mirror).


However, her attitude about having children is quite different from her thoughts on marriage. Currently in her 60s, Susan Boyle doesn't plan on having any children of her own, and this is reportedly one of her biggest regrets. In a 2019 interview with The Sun, she said, "I've never had any of my own, that's my biggest regret, but I love kids." However, she also opened the possibility of fostering and/or adopting children one day, saying at the time, "I'm 58 so I've got something to bring my family home to. I've a lovely house, why not share it?" 

And, aside from her lovely house, the children would also certainly have an all-around lovely person who would share her life with them.

She suffered a stroke in 2022 and revealed details on Britain's Got Talent

During the "Britain's Got Talent" season finale in June 2023, Susan Boyle revealed that she experienced a minor stroke in April 2022. She explained on air that her return to the show was "extra special" because of her health scare. "I fought like crazy to get back on stage, and I have done it," she said after the performance.


However, the term "minor" stroke can be a bit of a misnomer. While the scientific journal Stroke concedes that there's no precise definition, someone having a minor stroke usually means their symptoms are mild overall, and don't usually lead to permanent disability.

As Boyle herself wrote on Instagram, "For the past year I have worked so hard to get my speech and singing back, with the sole aim of being able to sing on stage again, and tonight my hard work and perseverance paid off, singing the song that started it all, 'I Dreamed A Dream.'" The cast, judges, and the rest of the world were happy to see Boyle, and were all relieved after hearing about her health scare!

Susan Boyle struggles with hair loss

Even though Susan Boyle has found plenty of success in the past few years, she still has plenty of insecurities — especially when it comes to her appearance. One of her biggest gripes with herself is her hair. When asked by The Guardian about what she disliked most about her looks, she replied, "The Scottish genes did not bless me with good hair."


As fans of Boyle will remember, the singer had wispy, short, unkempt hair during her famous "Britain's Got Talent" audition. But over the years, Boyle has experimented with different looks. In 2009, during her appearance on the famed talent competition, she had a haircut, style, and color to update her look. By 2014, however, it was reported that Boyle had decided to start wearing a wig to cover up her thinning, damaged hair. In fact, she told the Daily Mail that she wore two hairpieces. Although we imagine Boyle's hair loss must have been a struggle, it's clear she's dealing with it with her usual good spirits.

Susan Boyle's interviews haven't always been a success

Susan Boyle's rise to the top was very fast and very unexpected. Unlike many other stars, she hasn't exactly had much media training. Plus, interviewers seem to love quizzing her on uncomfortable topics. In other words, her interviews can sometimes be, well, a little awkward. In 2019, the singer appeared on the British show "Lorraine." The host, Lorraine Kelly, was insistent, asking her about her crush on Piers Morgan. "His wife may not like this. I do still like him a bit. I've grown up a bit," the singer finally replied (via Express). Many viewers were quick to note that Kelly's questions were a little invasive and that Boyle seemed uncomfortable. "This interview is painful," one person wrote on Twitter at the time (via the Daily Star).


In 2019, Boyle also revealed that back in 2009, she had made such a big mistake in an interview that they had to film it again. As she explained, they had asked her for her favorite "holiday song." "Well I didn't know back then that holiday is what they call Christmas so I thought they meant a summer holiday song, so off the top of my head I just said teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikini," she said to Edinburgh News (via Express).

In 2020, Boyle had yet another bad interview — this time on "Loose Women." As the Mirror noted, many viewers felt that the interviewers were being cruel and condescending to Boyle.

Susan Boyle was always afraid of being alone – and now she is

Susan Boyle may seem pretty happy with her career success, but her personal life is, it seems, sadder than ever. In 2011, the singer opened up to the Daily Mail about her biggest fears — and how they had finally come true. "I always had a fear of being alone and now I am," she confessed. As Boyle explained, she had always worried about having no one. Then, her closest family members passed away. "There was one period within a few years, where my dad, my uncle, my sister, then my mum died," she said. "It's as if I was working with a few building blocks and those blocks were scattered and I had to find them one by one."


Now, Boyle is getting used to her loneliness. But it still makes her feel sad. "My biggest problem is I feel lonely. Especially at night," she said. 

Susan Boyle was the victim of a hacking scandal

In 2023, Susan Boyle was the victim of an embarrassing hacking scandal. In September, fans were shocked to notice that Boyle had dropped a new single on Spotify called "A**l Queen." The song featured pink, leopard print cover art and the names Lina Mae and Serenity Mae. The song was removed quickly, but plenty of fans saw the embarrassing song title first. 


Many fans took to X, formerly Twitter, to joke about the hacking scandal. "Susan Boyle having a song called A**l Queen was not on my 2023 bingo card," one user tweeted (via The Sun). "Well it's official girlies, a**l queen by susan boyle is a bop! tweeted another. While the fake song may have been funny to some fans, it's sad to see that Boyle was once again the victim of a cruel prank. After enduring years of bullying, this kind of joke probably wasn't all that funny to her.

Susan Boyle struggles with her temper

Susan Boyle usually seems like a pretty easy-going star. After all, she's hardly your typical diva. In most interviews, the singer is friendly, smiley, and gracious. However, it turns out, behind the scenes, Boyle can be a little angrier than we might have imagined — and she's not particularly proud of it. "I have a bit of a temper and I do shout," she confessed to The Guardian in a 2014 interview when asked about her least favorite trait.


Since her rise to fame, Boyle has sometimes let her temper get the better of her. In fact, she's earned a bit of a reputation for it. In 2012, Piers Morgan even asked her about her temper tantrums during an interview. "The worst flare up?" she said. "There's been so many of them I've lost count. I go off like a firework" (via the Mirror). It sounds like Boyle really does have a bit of an issue managing her anger — and she seems to feel pretty awful about it, too.

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