On April 1, 2003, superstar Leslie Cheung jumped to his death from the 24th floor of the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Hong Kong. He left behind a suicide note, stating that he had been suffering from depression. He was 46 years old.
Like many superstars at the time, Cheung had both a remarkable music and acting career, and was affectionately known to many Hongkongers as “Gor gor.”
The incident sent shockwaves through the Hong Kong community, which was devastated by the loss of one of the city’s most beloved talents – especially at a time when morale was already at an all time low owing to the SARS outbreak.
Cheung left behind countless “gold songs” which are still played on the airwaves in Hong Kong today, including “Monica”, “Wild Wind”, “Silence is Golden”, “Closer” and many more.
Cheung had been close friends with Anita Mui, who starred alongside him in Behind the Yellow Line (1984) and Rouge (1987). Mui died months after Cheung’s suicide, following a battle with cancer. Both had been known for their androgynous image, and Cheung was also one of the only bisexual stars in Hong Kong.
Cheung starred in a number of Wong Kar-wai films, including Days of Being Wild (1991), Ashes of Time (1994) and Happy Together (1997). The roles won him Best Actor awards and nominations in Hong Kong Film Awards, Golden Horse Awards, and Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards.
However, he is perhaps best remembered for his role as Cheng Dieyi in Farewell My Concubine (1993), which is the only Chinese-language film to win the Cannes Palme d’Or. Cheung also received a Best Actor nomination at the film festival.
Last September 12, the date which would have been Cheung’s 60th birthday, over a thousand fans gathered in prayer at Po Fook Hill Ancestral Hall. Cheung’s fan club organised a 60th birthday party in the evening at the Central Harbourfront, playing concert clips and songs to commemorate his passing.
Every year, fans from all over the world still gather outside the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in his memory.
If you are experiencing negative feelings, please call: The Samaritans 2896 0000 (24-hour, multilingual), Suicide Prevention Centre 2382 0000 or the Social Welfare Department 2343 2255. The Hong Kong Society of Counselling and Psychology provides a WhatsApp hotline in English and Chinese: 6218 1084. See also: HKFP’s comprehensive guide to mental health services in Hong Kong