Shelley Beattie, a professional female bodybuilder and actress, died by suicide on February 16, 2008, at the age of 40. She had been found unresponsive in her home in Portland, Oregon, after hanging herself two days earlier. She had suffered from bipolar disorder, a mental illness that causes extreme mood swings, for many years. Her death was a shock and a loss to her family, friends, and fans.
A Deaf and Determined Athlete
Shelley Beattie was born on August 24, 1967, in Orange County, California. She became deaf at the age of three due to an aspirin overdose that damaged her hearing nerves. She learned sign language and underwent several surgeries and speech therapy to improve her communication skills. She also faced social isolation and bullying due to her deafness and turned to sports as an outlet.
She excelled in track and field, especially in hurdles and sprints. She also began lifting weights at the age of 14 to enhance her performance. She set a school record for the low hurdle and won several competitions. She also sang in a band and studied jazz dance and choreography.
She attended Western Oregon State College, where she graduated with a degree in child psychology and special education. She also started competing in amateur bodybuilding contests, winning several titles and awards.
A Star on the Stage and the Screen
Shelley Beattie turned pro in 1991, after winning the NPC USA Championships. She competed in the IFBB Ms. International and Ms. Olympia, the two most prestigious shows for female professional bodybuilders. She placed third in both contests in 1992, her best results ever. She was known for her muscular physique, blonde hair, and charismatic presence. She was nicknamed “Siren” and “Frosted Blonde”.
She also pursued an acting career, appearing in several TV shows and movies. She was best known for her role as “Siren” in the American Gladiators, a popular sports entertainment show. She was the first deaf gladiator and the only one who used sign language on the show. She also appeared in the movie Natural Born Killers, the TV series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, and the documentary Women of Iron.
She retired from bodybuilding in 1993, after placing sixth in the Ms. Olympia. She then joined the America’s Cup sailing team as a grinder, a physically demanding position that requires turning a winch to adjust the sails. She was the only woman on the team and the first deaf sailor to compete in the America’s Cup. She finished second in both 1994 and 1995.
A Troubled and Tormented Soul
Shelley Beattie struggled with bipolar disorder, a condition that causes episodes of mania and depression. She was diagnosed in the late 1990s, after experiencing a series of personal and professional setbacks. She had a divorce, a miscarriage, a car accident, and a lawsuit. She also had a difficult relationship with her family, who did not accept her bisexuality.
She tried various treatments, including medication, therapy, and hospitalization, but none of them worked for her. She suffered from mood swings, anxiety, rage, and suicidal thoughts. She also developed an addiction to painkillers, which worsened her condition.
She attempted suicide several times, but was always rescued by her friends or family. She also had a near-death experience in 2006, when she fell into a coma after overdosing on pills. She recovered, but remained depressed and hopeless.
On February 13, 2008, she hanged herself in her home, leaving a note that said “I love you”. She was found by her girlfriend, Julie Moisa, who called 911. She was taken to a hospital, where she died three days later. She was cremated and her ashes were scattered in the ocean.
A Legacy of Strength and Inspiration
Shelley Beattie’s death left a huge impact on her loved ones and those who knew her. Her family and friends gathered to mourn her loss and celebrate her life. They shared memories of her achievements, her humor, and her faith. They also expressed their gratitude for the time they had with her and the inspiration she gave them.
Shelley’s death also raised awareness of bipolar disorder and the need for more research and support for the people affected by it. Her family and friends created a memorial fund in her name, which supports the Deaf Wellness Center, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and other organizations that were important to her.
Shelley Beattie was a remarkable woman who overcame many challenges and obstacles in her life. She was a deaf and determined athlete, a star on the stage and the screen, and a troubled and tormented soul. She lived her life with courage and grace, and she left behind a legacy of strength and inspiration. She will be dearly missed and fondly remembered by all who knew her.