Sia checked into rehab after relapsing and becoming suicidal amid the backlash surrounding her feature film directorial debut, Music. The "Chandelier" singer shared her story in The New York Times' profile of Kathy Griffin, crediting the comedian with saving her life in the aftermath of intense outrage caused by the 2021 Golden Globe-nominated film.
Sia's decision to cast neurotypical actress Maddie Ziegler as a nonverbal autistic teenage girl in the film was widely condemned by the autism community, as was the depiction of autism in general. Sia told the Times of her response to the widespread criticism, "I was suicidal and relapsed and went to rehab." The Grammy nominee then said it was Griffin who convinced her to go out to a Hollywood dinner date with her last fall, convinced that the outing would be captured by paparazzi and spark a healthier media cycle months after the outrage made headlines. As Sia put it, "She saved my life."
Sia originally defended casting the Dance Moms alum, with whom she had previously worked on the music videos for "Chandelier" and "Elastic Heart." The singer told Australia's 10 News First that while she "actually tried working with a beautiful young girl nonverbal on the spectrum," it was "unpleasant and stressful" due to the demands placed on the character in the movie. "The character is based completely on my neuro-atypical friend," she added. "He found it too stressful being nonverbal, and I made this movie with nothing but love for him and his mother."
The film was nominated for two Golden Globes in February 2021, and Sia announced it would be released with a warning. "I promise [I] have been listening," she wrote on Twitter at the time. "The motion picture Music will, moving forward, have this warning at the head of the movie: 'Music in no way condones or recommends the use of restraint on autistic people. There are autistic occupational therapists that specialize in sensory processing who can be consulted to explain safe ways to provide proprioceptive, deep-pressure feedback to help with meltdown safety." She added in another tweet, "I'm sorry."
If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741-741.