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  • For many, the unexpected death of The Cranberries singer Dolores O’Riordan in 2018 hit hard. The singer was a remarkable individual, and her music remains singular and beloved by millions.

    How Dolores O’Riordan Died

    Dolores O’Riordan’s death at age 46 on the 15th of January, 2018, was a tragic accident. 

    She had traveled from New York to London for a recording session with rock band Bad Wolves and arrived at the Park Lane Hilton Hotel. The next day she was found dead in her London hotel room bathtub around 9:00 AM.

    The cause of death, released by Coroner Shirley Radcliffe of Westminster Coroner’s Court on what would have been O’Riordan’s 47th birthday, was accidental drowning due to alcohol intoxication. 

    It was a declaration supported by five empty miniature bottles and a bottle of champagne as well as prescription drugs for bipolar disorder and back problems.

    According to toxicology tests, only therapeutic amounts of medications had been used, and there was no evidence of self-harm or fentanyl use, despite widespread rumors.

    About Dolores O’Riordan

    Born September 6, 1971, in County Limerick Ireland, Dolores Mary Eileen O’Riordan was the youngest of nine children born to her working-class, devout Roman Catholic parents. According to those who knew her, she was singing before she could talk.

    While her family urged her to consider becoming either a nun or a music teacher, O’Riordan instead ran away from home at age 18 to live with her boyfriend and pursue music.

    The Cranberries

    In 1989, bandmates Mike and Noel Hogan, Fergal Lawler, and Niall Quinn formed the Irish band “Cranberry Saw Us” in Limerick, Ireland. Quinn left the band within a year but recommended O’Riordan as a replacement lead singer. 

    At this time, O’Riordan was still a student living away from home and had even gone hungry as she searched for musical opportunities. She wanted, more than anything else, to write and perform her music.

    Dolores O'Riordan playing a show with The Cranberries

    After joining the band, which soon signed with Island Records and changed their name to “The Cranberries”, O’Riordan was forced to confront her shyness even while receiving ever-increasing national and then international fame.

    Albums & Success

    The Cranberries’ first album, Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?, released in 1993 and featured some of the group’s most successful singles, “Dreams” and “Linger”. The latter charted at No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100.

    A year later, the group released a follow-up album No Need To Argue, which included the song “Zombie.” The single topped charts in several nations, and the album was the bestselling of the year among European artists.

    The Cranberries’ Dolores O’Riordan had also grown to become a celebrity in her own right, with her bare feet or Dr. Martens and bleached pixie or buzzcut becoming distinctive.

    Mental Health Struggles

    After The Cranberries’ third album, To the Faithful Departed, was released, O’Riordan and the Cranberries canceled their remaining dates in 1997. 

    According to O’Riordan herself, she was suffering from depression and anorexia at the time and struggled with self-loathing and thoughts of suicide.

    She would later be diagnosed with bipolar disorder and would attempt suicide by drug overdose in 2013. In 2017, she is noted to have begun writing a suicide note while intoxicated on both lorazepam and alcohol.

    Alcohol Abuse Issues

    The Irish singer would eventually communicate her struggles with alcohol abuse in particular, sharing that, “I have a bad day when I have bad memories and I can’t control them, and I hit the bottle. I kind of binge drink. That is kind of my biggest flaw at the moment.”

    She would marry Don Burton, the former tour manager of Duran Duran, in 1994, and had three children with him. However, they would eventually divorce in 2014, resulting in deepening depression and alcohol misuse.

    Solo Career

    The Cranberries released Bury the Hatchet, their fourth album, in 1999, and Wake Up and Smell the Coffee in 2001. After this, in 2003, the group took a hiatus to focus on personal projects.

    Among a great many other contributions, O’Riordan would release two solo albums, Are You Listening? in 2007, and No Baggage in 2009. 

    In 2014, O’Riordan joined and began recording new material with the New York trio D.A.R.K., a group that included her boyfriend Olé Koretsky.

    Recovery Is Possible

    The same combination of mental health issues and alcohol abuse that were responsible for O’Riordan’s death also affects countless others in a variety of situations. 

    However, recovery is possible with professional help, dual diagnosis care for mental health issues, and proven substance use disorder treatment options like cognitive behavioral therapy and peer support.

    To learn how we can support you or your loved one’s journey, please contact us today.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2024 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.
    Medically Reviewed by
    Manish Mishra, MBBS
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