TW: Mentions of substance abuse, suicide & domestic violence
YouTube personality Lia Marie Johnson has moved her fans “to tears” after releasing an emotional video, detailing her long history of drug addiction, domestic violence, and recovery since becoming an explosive internet sensation at the age of 14.
In the video titled “This is my story,” Lia shared about her highly criticised journey hoping it would be a step to “clean the slate” and move forward into a new chapter in her life.
“This story is so hard to tell because I have so many beautiful memories, but the other half of me was finding life so painful and overwhelming,” she said in the video posted to her personal account last week.
Lia’s rise to fame
The 26-year-old singer rose to fame on the viral YouTube series ‘Kids React,’ and later ‘Teens React,’ created by The Fine Bros. In 2014, Adweek named her one of the 12 “biggest young stars on YouTube.”
When Lia was 17, she moved to Los Angeles, where she went on to star in a couple of movies (including The Thinning with Logan Paul) and signed a record deal with Capitol Records. From there, she spent most of her time focusing on music, while still gaining subscribers on her own YouTube channel. Lia’s music career hit an all-time high when she released her song DNA in 2016 — which details her fear that she will turn out like her alcoholic father. After that, things in her personal life really started to take a turn.
Struggling with addiction and abusive relationships
Lia shared in her recent video that things began to go downhill as soon as she moved to L.A.
“I was living in a whole other world when the sun went down,” the singer said. “I was drinking, using drugs, and partying almost every night. Life isn’t always easy, I just never knew it could be so hard.”
Lia also explained that soon after she moved, she entered into her first abusive relationship which exacerbated her drug use. She said, “There was pain and loneliness in my life that not even drugs could fix.”
When she was 18, Lia had her first suicide attempt, which pushed her to move back home to San Diego. After months of attending group therapy, she moved back to Los Angeles when she booked a series. “It didn’t take long to fall back into my crazy lifestyle and dangerous past,” she said.
Rehab and a fatal accident
Lia recounted that things started to get worse when she signed with Capitol Records. She was surrounded by drugs and partied, drank, and smoked weed “beyond [her] boundaries.”
After the release of DNA, Lia got into a near-fatal car accident that she said, “should have changed the way I was living but I still didn’t get the message,” admitting she was, “lucky to be alive.”
Lia said that “immediately” after the incident, she committed multiple suicide attempts and filtered through multiple rehabs and jails.
“I was ending up in hospitals due to my poor mental health,” she said. “The worst part was spending time in psychiatric wards due to falling into drug-included psychosis.”
Of this psychosis, Lia said, “Your reality warps, you can hallucinate for days, weeks and sometimes for the rest of your life. You can hear voices and they can tell you to do things to yourself or others that you don’t want to do.”
She left rehab for the first time at 21, but quickly relapsed after entering another abusive relationship, leaving her with “bruises on [her] neck from strangulation.”
“He took advantage of the money I had made,” she shared. “Verbally, he would take his anger out on me, and, mentally and psychologically, I was driven into what felt like insanity.”
Instagram Live and a relationship that changed everything
By 2019, fans of Lia were highly concerned for the singer as she made headlines with Instagram Live videos where she appeared to be inebriated. Some fans said they could hear people doing drugs in the background. Lia confirmed all of this in her video, saying that going live on social media was her way of trying to stop her abuser from taking advantage of her.
Her life took a turn in 2020 when her partner — who she had a “complicated relationship with” and was also using drugs — died by suicide.
Though “losing him was one of the hardest realities I’ve ever had to face,” she said that after his death, a friend stepped in and helped her become sober.
“I tried almost every single drug you can think of and lost everything I had,” Lia said. “I’ve been to jail, psych wards, and rehabs. I’ve slept on the street and now I can tell you that the one thing that saved me was love. Real love. That’s why I’m here. Because love is so powerful. Love is the reason I’m alive.”
A wave of support
Fans have flooded Lia’s comment section and Twitter mentions with support.
One fan commented on her video, “I can speak for everyone that we are SO glad you made it out alive and are still here. the world would miss you deeply, Lia. Stay well.”
Another shared that she was “proud of her for giving music and romantic relationships another chance and giving herself the space and time to heal.”
Celebrities have also voiced their support for Lia. YouTuber Ricky Dillon (and former O2L member with Lia’s ex-boyfriend, JC Caylen) responded to her video, “This brought me to tears. I love you so much Lia and am so proud of you. I wish you a wonderful 2023 ❤ I can’t wait to hear your new music.”
White Lotus actor Lukas Gage commented on Lia’s Instagram, “Thank you for your honesty and bravery my beautiful friend. I am so lucky to know you and have you in my life.”
“Lia I am so proud of you. I can’t fucking wait to see you thrive in this new year,” wrote YouTuber Andrea Russet on her video. “I love you so much. I’m so so happy to see you healing and glowing. You are a light!!!!! A fucking light. We are so thankful you are still here.”
A new chapter
Lia shared that she now lives in England with her partner Charlie Hudson and just marked 10 months of sobriety.
She has continued to post on her YouTube channel, even sharing new music.
Lia released the music video for her new song Smoking Gun, which details her experience with domestic violence.
“This song means so much to me. I wrote the piano and felt deeply that I needed to write something from my soul,” she wrote on Instagram. “The lyrics came naturally and so did the melody. I’m so grateful to have had that experience.”
Lia shared that she hopes her story will inspire others to seek help. In the description of her video, she added a message to viewers who may be going through struggles of her own, in addition to mental health, addiction, and domestic abuse resources.
“Please reach out to friends and family if you are ever struggling with abuse or your mental health,” she wrote. “You are not alone.”
If you are experiencing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Family And Sexual Violence Counselling Service at 1800 737 732.
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, please contact the Alcohol and Drug Support Line at 1800 198 024.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact Lifeline at 13 11 14.