Taraji P. Henson Opened Up About Her Mental Health and Past Suicidal Thoughts
The host of Peace of Mind With Taraji revealed in December 2020 that she had grappled with suicidal thoughts during the pandemic. But as Henson recently shared in an interview with Entertainment Tonight, she's been healing and is in a much healthier space.
"[I'm] much better," said Henson during the interview. "It's called suicide ideation, and it's not that you're really gonna go forth with it, it's just thoughts running through your mind when you're at your lowest. And for me, because I'm in therapy, I knew that saying it out loud and getting it out of my head would deaden it."
As Henson, 51, added in her interview with Entertainment Tonight, she told her friends not to panic about her words. "I understand that I have to say it out loud so I can hear how ridiculous that sounds to me ... I get to hear it and then and it's not such a heavy thought anymore. Now it's out there and it's like, 'I don't feel like that anymore.' I release it," she explained.
The former Empire star has been open about her struggles with anxiety and depression. However, it wasn't until singer and reality star, Tamar Braxton, opened up in 2020 on Peace Of Mind With Taraji about her own suicide attempt that Henson revealed her own past struggles with suicide ideation. (Related: Taraji P. Henson's New Memoir Reveals The Love of Her Life Abused Her Before Dying Young)
"It's very real," shared the Oscar nominee with Entertainment Tonight in February 2021. "There are so many people, right now especially in this time that we're dealing with in history, that they're contemplating … Every day is a struggle. I found myself struggling with not knowing or just giving up. Sometimes it just becomes too much and that is why the show is so important. Because when you see me, [hear] someone say that, then you don't feel alone."(Related: This Study Shows Just How Extreme the Mental Health Problem Is In the U.S.)
Henson, whose Facebook Watch series focuses on breaking the stigma surrounding mental health for women of color, explained there's a lot of shame associated with suicide ideation, which prevents many people from getting the help they need. "When you are in those dark moments, and that's why this show is so important if you could just hold on for another five minutes or for the next day, it always gets better," said Henson to Entertainment Tonight. "Look at nature. The sun always comes out after every storm and you have to use that as a metaphor in your life."
Henson also touched on another barrier that often blocks people from getting the mental health aid they need: Cost. "We knew that it was going to be important. We knew that because when we launched the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation, we saw that impact on a smaller scale," recalled Henson to Entertainment Tonight in February 2021 of the organization, which she founded in honor of her late father, a Vietnam veteran who suffered from mental illness.
"So then it amped us up. We were like, 'OK, well, how do we get it out to the masses?' So the show was the natural progression because only so many people are going to do the research to find us. We have a platform, where people are watching this all over the globe. And what I love about it is, you're talking to a community of people, Black and brown, who can't afford therapy. But guess what? Our show is free," she continued at the time. (Related: How Taraji P. Henson Ditched Her Food Guilt-and Stopped Comparing Herself to Others)
If you or a loved one are thinking about suicide or have been struggling with your mental health, you are not alone. Please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to speak to someone who will offer confidential support 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or chat online.