Fiona O’Loughlin has spoken before about her ongoing battle with alcohol, which became public when she collapsed during a Brisbane performance in 2009, but in a recent interview with The ABC’s Australian Story, the comedian opened up about the extent of her problem, and a suicide attempt she made last year.

She told the program that at one point, when suffering from severe depression, she checked into a motel under a false name with the intention of killing herself. It was only the intervention of her youngest daughter – who “would not leave” and described her mother’s appearance to hotel staff – that led to her being discovered.

The comedian has since entered treatment. “I think the most pointless suicides are the suicides of alcoholics,” she told Australian Story, “because basically what we’re doing is we can’t face our own music – that’s the bottom line, and it’s pretty selfish. But you’re not aware of that at the time – you’re kind of crazy.”

O’Loughlin, who found success as a comedian later in life after starting a family, has been praised for speaking out about mental health in her stand-up sets, and in various media. “We certainly don’t want suicide to be a taboo that is never spoken of,” said Jaelea Skehan of the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, “and in fact people like Fiona O’Loughlin talking about her experiences could help demystify the issue.”

“I think it’s a really powerful message about caution,” said Dr Matthew Frei of the Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre, about O’Loughin’s powerful story. “This can happen to anyone … just because you’re prominent, seemingly bright and motivated and successful, that it doesn’t mean you can’t be affected by alcohol.”

The snippets of the interview already published here are powerful stuff. O’Loughlin’s episode of Australian Story airs on The ABC tonight.

If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol, you can seek help from DrinkWise and call 1800 888 236 for counselling and support.

Photo: Gaye Gerard via Getty Images