James Arthur is battling a breakdown following the death of his grandmother, which a source close to the singer attributed his homophobic outbursts to.

X Factor winner Arthur last week left Twitter following criticism for using homophobic language against another artist in a “rap feud”. He handed over control of his Twitter account to managers.

In Arthur’s rap at Micky Worthless, he said: “You f***ing queer. Hilarious, precarious you Talibani confused, imbellic mimic of a gimmick.” He was criticised by comedians Matt Lucas and Frankie Boyle for the lyrics.

Arthur now faces calls from an online petition titled “Drop Homophobe James Arthur from Xfactor”, which has found the support of over 7,500 likes.

The Sun reports that Arthur is now seeking professional help after the uproar, and that he attributes his state of mind when making the comments to the death of his grandmother.

A source close to the singer said: “James has really been struggling and is not in a good place with everything that has happened.

“He was distraught after getting death threats online following the rap and needed some time to get himself together.

“James knows he hasn’t been acting in a positive way and puts it down to grief following the death of his grandmother.”

The source continued: “The appearance by James on X Factor will really be an attempt to save his career.

“He wants to go back to basics, keep schtum online and just let his music do the talking. He now realises that’s the way it should always have been.”

Yesterday it emerged that a petition to have Arthur removed from a performance on the X Factor this Sunday, which has now gathered over 11,000 signatures.

The page administrators clarified their position, saying: “Just to remind everyone, WE ARE NOT A HATE PAGE. We are simply campaigning to get someone dropped by X Factor who has a history of hate speech and derogatory language.

“We do not feel James Arthur deserves a place on TV following his homophobia in his music and on social media.”

James Arthur also found himself amid a new Twitter drama, as fellow X Factor contestant Lucy Spraggan last week tweeted a text conversation between the two containing a heated disagreement over his use of the word “queer”.

Controversy surrounding James Arthur’s Twitter spats around his use of homophobic lyrics on a track already escalated as iTunes last week approved a refund to a customer who complained that they were offended by the lyrics.

Singer Olly Murs also defended James Arthur, saying he gave him the “benefit of the doubt”, because he is a “talented lad”, and has apologised.