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  • Phyllis Linda Hyman was an African American actress, singer, and songwriter. Throughout her life, Phyllis Hyman suffered from mental health problems, and on June 30, 1995, she died by suicide from a barbiturate overdose.

    How Phyllis Hyman Died

    Phyllis Hyman died by suicide on June 30, 1995 in her New York City apartment only six days before her 46th birthday. Scheduled to perform at the Apollo Theater in Harlem later that day, Hyman took a lethal dose of barbiturates, or sleeping pills, combined with alcohol.

    Once found unconscious, Hyman was taken to the St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital where she was pronounced dead. A suicide note was left at her apartment which read: “I’m tired. I’m tired. Those of you that I love know who you are. May God bless you.”

    Following her death, there was a posthumous release of her album, I Refuse To Be Lonely.

    About Phyllis Hyman

    Phyllis Hyman was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and raised in Pittsburgh where she took part in music school. In her earlier career, Hyman joined a national tour with New Direction.

    Unfortunately, the band broke up, leading Hyman to take on gigs with other groups such as The Hondo Beat and All the People. In addition to this, she also appeared in the 1974 film Lenny.

    Later, Hyman became the leader of the band Phyllis Hyman and the P/H Factor. 

    In 1975, the drummer Norman Connors discovered Phyllis Hyman to join the You Are My Starship album. This album included a remake of The Stylistics’ song “Betcha By Golly Wow” with the lead vocals performed by Hyman.

    Hyman married her manager Larry Alexander in 1977, but later divorced in 1982. In the early 1980s, Hyman performed on Broadway, receiving a Tony Award nomination for her performance in Sophisticated Ladies, featuring the music of Duke Ellington.

    Buddah Records became Arista Records, leading Hyman to become a well-known vocalist once her numerous albums were released. Within years, Hyman released an album with the Philadelphia International label featuring songs such as “You Just Don’t Know” and “Old Friend.”

    In her later years, Hyman starred in the films School Daze and The Kill Reflex. She would later go on to release just a few more albums before her death.


    The Phyllis Hyman albums released include:

    • Phyllis Hyman (1977)
    • Sing A Song (1978)
    • Somewhere in My Lifetime (1978)
    • You Know How to Love Me (1979)
    • Can’t We Fall in Love Again? (1981)
    • Goddess of Love (1983)
    • Living All Alone (1986)
    • Prime of My Life (1991)
    • I Refuse to Be Lonely (1995)
    • One on One (1998)
    • Forever with You (1998)

    In addition to these albums, some of the noteworthy songs by Phyllis Hyman include “Don’t Wanna Change the World,” “Living in Confusion,” and “Strength of a Woman.” Hyman also performed a number of songs for various film soundtracks.

    Phyllis Hyman’s History Of Mental Health & Substance Use Problems

    Phyllis Hyman had a history of mental health problems. In fact, Hyman was diagnosed with depression and bipolar disorder in the 1980s.

    According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Hyman’s friend Glenda Garcia stated Hyman had attempted suicide twice before, but was unsuccessful. She also remarked that Hyman felt as if suicide was always an option, a topic in which Hyman spoke of often.

    Unfortunately, like many who suffer from mental illness, Phyllis Hyman self-medicated for many years, participating in alcohol abuse and other drug abuse to help relieve the suffering of her mental health issues.

    Did Phyllis Hyman Attend Substance Abuse Treatment?

    Hyman entered a number of treatment and rehabilitation centers, but was unable to maintain sobriety and struggled with substance use and mental health issues for most of her adult life. 

    Recovery Is Possible

    If you or a loved one are struggling with a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder, recovery is possible with a professional dual-diagnosis treatment program

    Offered in an inpatient or outpatient setting, these programs address both substance use and mental health with counseling, therapy, and peer support. To learn more about how we treat mental health and substance abuse in the same program, 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.

    AmoMama News - Phyllis Hyman
    BET - Phyllis Hyman
    Inquirer - Jenice Armstrong
    The Washington Post - PHYLLIS HYMAN IS DEAD AT 45

    Medically Reviewed by
    Manish Mishra, MBBS
    on February 16, 2023
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