On May 7, Jada Pinkett Smith took to social media to speak about her past suicidal thoughts and her plans to disguise them so her children would not know her death was intentional.
This reflection was prompted by the newest episode of her Facebook series “Red Table Talk,” where she discussed the death by suicide of the 2019 Miss USA, Cheslie Kryst, a Black woman who ended her life on Jan. 30, by jumping from a 60-story high-rise apartment building in Midtown Manhattan.
Pinkett Smith posted a clip of her, her two co-hosts Adrienne Banfield-Norris and Willow Smith, and a special guest psychologist, Dr. Alfiee Breland-Noble, and read the encapsulating headline from Harper’s Bazaar that said, “What Everyone Gets Wrong About High-Achieving Black Women and Depression.” The article seemed to answer with a remark the entire panel agreed with, “The higher Black women climb, the more they are expected to control and suppress their emotions — to an often-debilitating effect.”
As she asks Dr. Breland-Noble her opinion, she expressed how she feels as if as a Black woman she is “not allowed to have any kind of reactions … emotions … nothing.” The doctor flat out said in this society, “You’re not.”
“We carry so much of that weight around with us,” Breland-Noble said before asking, “Who told us we need to carry all that stuff.”
The older women passed the torch to Willow to answer and thoughtfully she surmised, “I think it’s generational and I think it is cultural.”
The 21-year-old spoke about the weight of being Black and female in America lumbering mentally and physically for women of African descent in this nation, dating back to the first enslaved beings brought to the land as beasts of burden and pleasure.
Pinkett Smith said she was inspired to do an episode on Cheslie Kryst’s life after listening to the 30-year-old woman’s mother say she suffered from “High Functioning Depression” and called it “the most personal table for me yet.”
The show’s host was impacted by April Simpkins when she read the last text from her pageant queen daughter saying, “By the time you get this I won’t be alive anymore.”
“I no longer feel like I have any purpose in life,” the mother continued to read.
Simpkins said she was grateful for the opportunity to come on the show to share about her daughter, “I’m so thankful to these three compassionate women who gave us the space and time to share some of what my baby girl was dealing with.”
The wife, mother, businesswoman, and now-social media pile-on wrote, “Cheslie left to her [mother] before jumping to her death, brought me right back into my experiences of such overwhelming, unbearable despair that I was consumed by every day.”
In her caption to the 3:29 minute video, Pinkett Smith divulged moments when she felt as though she had collapsed under such societal anvils, revealing she wanted to end her life.
She captioned, “My past despair had gotten me to a point of me trying to plan an accident that I could have so that my children would not know that my death was by suicide.”
“I thank the Great Divine for them because although I may not have been enough to stay alive for myself at that time, my children were and that bought my spirit time until the Great Supreme could make a way to enter my heart and do the rest,” she wrote. “5 months into my 40th year I experienced a deep spiritual and psychological healing through a specific therapy that saved my life. This was just the beginning. And it has been a deep 10-year journey of healing. Every day, I HAVE TO focus on my healing and it has not been without pitfalls and relapses.”
Triumphantly, the actress who has starred in movies (just in the last decade) that have brought in over $2B in box office sales worldwide, declared, “But I’M HERE.”
Pinkett Smith has been at the center of several headline-snatching scandals over the last three years. She went on to talk about how the “Great Divine” has offered her a space to be vulnerable.
“It’s one day at a time as I grow love and patience for myself. And the beauty of the Great Divine is that for anyone who is suffering … the Great Divine has a way out for you that is specifically designed for you,” she shared. “That’s how much you are loved. In my despair now, I’ve learned to cry for help instead of for the sake of the pain.”
The Baltimore native continued to talk about her newfound level of faith and offered it as a word of encouragement and support for those in psychological spaces of despair, “I’ve had to learn how to ask for help when I need it but I’ve also had to learn to surrender to a power greater than myself and cultivate deep faith. I’m asking you to trust. I’m asking you to have faith and to find a reason to hang on.”
“There is help, you just can’t see it yet but I’m living proof that that is true! Even as I sit in the pressures of this fire of deep misunderstanding around my character created by half-truths that I have allowed within my story and stories told about me … I’M GRATEFUL TO BE ALIVE I’m grateful for what the Great Divine is showing me and teaching me. I’m grateful for every piece of my journey and the strength-giving love of The Great One above.”
The comment section on the post has been limited. But the guest on the episode and the show’s producer Ella Rakieten were allowed to comment and they both left hearts.
Dr. Breland-Noble left a note of gratitude, adding, “Thank you so much for being so open and sharing.”
The last bit of sharing was Pinkett Smith’s own 21-word sermon to the world.
Her benediction was simply, “If no one has told you ‘I love you’ today … I LOVE YOU and so does the Great Supreme.”