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FactCheck: Did singer Demi Lovato really pass away in late July?

A claim shared over 90,000 times on Facebook grew traction after she was hospitalised.

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A RECENT ARTICLE on a US site New York Timely Reports has claimed that Demi Lovato, the US singer-songwriter and former American X Factor judge, died in July.

The piece has been shared more than 91,000 times on Facebook. But is it true?

The claim: Demi Lovato has died following a reported drug overdose in her Hollywood home.

Where it comes from The claim appears on US website New York Timely Reports. The article still exists on Facebook but direct hyperlinks to it on the nytiwes.com site appears to now be broken. The result is still cached, however, in Google search results:

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The piece claims that Lovato, after being rushed to hospital in Los Angeles following a “reported heroin overdose”, has died. The article cites an unnamed spokesperson confirming her death at a Los Angeles hospital.

The website doesn’t reveal the cause of her death and the article isn’t specifically dated (although we can see that it was published to Facebook on 28 July). However, it reports that Lovato was found unconscious at her home in the Hollywood Hills and, citing entertainment news site TMZ, says that she was treated with emergency drug Narcan, which is used to block the effects of opioids.

“Tributes are pouring in from celebrities and fans on social media,” it says. The site carrying the article is not a well-known news site and seems to carry a mix of aggregated celebrity and general news posts. The site’s URL, nytiwes.com, could to the casual user resemble that of the much better recognised and respected outlet, The New York Times.

The context

It was widely reported by a number of established news outlets on 24 July that the singer-songwriter had been rushed to hospital in Los Angeles after an apparent drug overdose. You can see examples of such reports here, here and here.

The news prompted outpourings of support on social media and spawned the #PrayforDemi hashtag on Twitter.

Since the release in June of a new song, Sober, there had been speculation that Lovato - who has spoken often about her struggles with addiction - had relapsed. In the past, she has struggled with cocaine addiction and alcoholism and in 2010 cancelled a tour to enter a rehabilitation centre.

The facts

The piece in New York Timely Report which claims that Lovato had died offers scant evidence for this, except from an unnamed “spokesman”.

It doesn’t clarify for whom or what this person is a “spokesman”. However, by 25 July - the day after her hospitalisation was first reported - Lovato was already said to be recovering.

In a statement distributed to mainstream US media, her spokesperson said: “Demi is awake and with her family who want to express thanks to everyone for the love, prayers and support.” “Some of the information being reported is incorrect and they respectfully ask for privacy,” they said.

TMZ initially reported that Lovato had overdosed on heroin, but this was then challenged by a source close to her. Neither Lovato or her representatives have confirmed whether Lovato was in fact using drugs at the time of her hospitalisation. On Sunday, 5 August, Lovato released a statement on her verified Instagram telling fans that she needed “time to heal and focus on my sobriety and road to recovery”.

“What I’ve learned is that this illness is not something that disappears or fades with time,” the 25-year-old singer wrote.

“It is something that I must continue to overcome and have not done yet,” she said.

“I want to thank God for keeping me alive and well.”

Since then, there have been no posts on the account and there have been no posts from her official Twitter and Facebook accounts since 21 July.

However, on Monday this week, 6 August, the Associated Press cited an anonymous person “close to Lovato” who claimed she had been released from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center over the weekend. Her Instagram account carried a message from the star on the same day, which said she wanted to "thank God for keeping me alive and well" and that: "I now need time to heal and focus on my sobriety and road to recovery."

Conclusion

The claim that Demi Lovato had died circulated online following news she had been hospitalised. Considering the fact her spokesperson confirmed on 25 July that Lovato had regained consciousness, her subsequent post on Instagram and her latest confirmation that Lovato is on the road to recovery, reports of her death are inaccurate.

We rate this claim FALSE.

TheJournal.ie’s FactCheck is a signatory to the International Fact-Checking Network’s Code of Principles. You can read it here. For information on how FactCheck works, what the verdicts mean, and how you can take part, check out our Reader’s Guide here. You can read about the team of editors and reporters who work on the factchecks here

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About the author:

Dominic McGrath

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