Content warning: This article discusses attempted suicide.
Lil Wayne has spoken in a new interview about his struggles with mental health as a child, opening up about how he attempted suicide at the age of 12.
The revelation came in a candid interview with former NFL star and current Fox Sports analyst Emmanuel Acho, during an appearance Wayne – real name Dwayne Michael Carter Jr. – made on Acho’s YouTube series Uncomfortable Conversations.
The rapper said he was opening up about mental illness in hopes he could encourage viewers to take the subject more seriously, seeking help when they feel they may need it.
“[I’m] hoping I can help anyone else out there who’s dealing with mental health problems by… being vulnerable,” Wayne said. “To me, I look at it by being brave and stepping up.”
Take a look at the full interview below:
Wayne told Acho that he first noticed his mental health becoming unstable around age 10, which eventually progressed into suicidal ideation. He noted that he reached a breaking point after a particularly turbulent moment with his mother, when she denigrated his ambitions of becoming a rapper and threatened to throw out a folder of his material.
“[The] main thought was, ‘I’m gonna show you.’ So I picked up the phone, I called the police. Yes, I knew where she kept her gun. And it was in her bedroom. And so I went in her bedroom, grabbed the gun – I already made the phone call – looked in the mirror…”
Wayne explained that he initially pointed the gun to his temple, but was spooked upon making the gesture. He instead shot himself in the chest, but “didn’t feel a thing” due to shock, instead passing out and waking up to the sound of police knocking on his mother’s bedroom door. He credits a sheriff that he nicknamed Uncle Bob for saving his life, recalling Bob hovering over him and repeating, “You’re not going to die on me.”
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Growing up, Wayne said, he struggled to articulate his struggles with mental health, particularly being surrounded by people that didn’t understand the severity of the topic.
“You have no one to vent to, no one to get this out to,” he said. “You can’t bring it to your friends at school – you’re still trying to be cool to them. You’re not trying to let them know you’ve got something going on at home.
“There is no bar to measure how real [mental health is]. It’s real. It’s so real that if someone even has the guts, the heart, the bravery, whatever to at least admit that they have something going on up there that they’re not sure about, it’s so real that we should only react in the realest way possible.”
Wayne also discussed the impact fame had on his mental health, saying he struggled with loneliness when he made it back to his tour bus after shows, wondering if people around him were only there to feed off his fame.
He continued: “You start to think, ‘[Does] anyone actually care? Will it matter when it’s all over? Will I matter?’ And that’s always the question. Will you matter when it’s all over? Not the things you’ve done, the things you’ve done for everyone else, but will you actually matter to them? But most of all to you?”
Today, Wayne said he prays twice a day, and has made significant progress in improving his mental health. He told Acho that he’s “so happy”, largely due to his ability to continue exploring art.
“To be productive and put some music out and help some people put music out, that’s what I love,” he said. “Simple cliché – that’s what I was born to be.”
For help and advice on mental health:
- ‘Am I depressed?‘ – Help and advice on mental health and what to do next
- Help Musicians UK – Around the clock mental health support and advice for musicians
- Music Support Org – Help and support for musicians struggling with alcoholism, addiction, or mental health issues
- YOUNG MINDS – The voice for young people’s health and wellbeing
- CALM – The Campaign Against Living Miserably for young men
- Time To Change – Let’s end mental health discrimination
- The Samaritans – Confidential support 24 hours a day