Reality turns harsh for former "Idol" participant

Fri Nov 14, 2008 5:23pm EST
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By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The suicide of a former "American Idol" tryout contestant has raised questions about the humiliation dealt out by the popular TV talent show to aspiring singers, some of whom may be emotionally on the edge.

Early audition episodes of "American Idol", the top-rated show in the United States, feature as many terrible singers as talented ones to the delight of its 30 million weekly viewers.

Tone-deaf and eccentric performers often find themselves on the blunt end of ridicule from the show's judges, especially British record producer Simon Cowell.

Paula Goodspeed, 30, was one of them. Goodspeed auditioned in 2005 saying she was a big fan of "Idol" judge Paula Abdul. On Tuesday night, she was found dead in a car of an apparent drug overdose outside Abdul's Los Angeles home.

Some psychologists said this week that her audition -- in which Cowell commented on her braces and asked how she could sing with "that much metal"-- should never have been televised.

"For someone that may have an unstable personality or not a clear, solid sense of themselves or self-esteem, that can really destroy them," said therapist Julie Albright, a lecturer at the University of Southern California.

"These are young people that are hanging their hopes on being accepted," Albright said.

On her MySpace page, Goodspeed later wrote about Internet comments "bashing" her for her braces and her singing. "I have to believe there is something good about me," she wrote.   Continued...