In the fifth episode of his YouTube docuseries, Will Smith revealed that he thought suicide at age 13. While filming the “Best Shape of my Life” docuseries, the actor wrote his memoir “Will.” All the reminiscing proved too much for him, and the Fresh Prince actor discussed one of the most traumatic moments in his life.
In this episode, Smith had an emotional conversation with Caroline Bright, his mother. Here he revealed that the only time suicidal thoughts crossed his mind was when he saw his mother being brutally beaten by her husband, Willard Carroll Smith Sr.
“Best Shape of my Life” was filmed to show Smith’s 20 pounds in 20 weeks weight loss journey. Smith spoke about his mother leaving his father’s abuse and how the abuse defined his life in his memoir.
“Will” was released on November 9 and is available on Amazon, while the six episodes of “Best Shape of my Life” are currently available on his YouTube channel.
Why Did Will Smith Contemplate Suicide?
In the memoir, Smith talked about how his father, Willard Sr., beat up his mother so much; the actor contemplated suicide because he felt helpless. He said that he felt lonely and guilty when his mother left them, but “She’d had enough.”
Smith revealed that he was only 13 when his mother left them to stay with their grandmother. “That was the only time in my life that I ever considered suicide,” Smith said. “That was the only time in my life that I ever thought about killing myself because it was all my failure in my mind.”
Will confided that Bright didn’t know he felt like a coward until they discussed the memoir. “You know, the whole idea of me thinking of myself as a coward was new for her,” Smith said.
“We never talked about it. The idea that I felt like I should’ve done something was so foreign, so she reassured little Will that there was nothing that he could have done.”
Will Smith Talked About The Abuse He Witnessed
While reading aloud from the book, Smith called his father ‘Daddio’ and said he was “one of the greatest blessings” of his life, but he was also “one of my greatest sources of pain.” He said his father instilled a work ethic in him and taught him invaluable life lessons, but the abuse in between was heartbreaking.
The 53-year-old actor read from his biography and mentioned how the abuse affected him and his siblings. “Each of my siblings remembers that night in the bedroom. With me standing there in the doorway, I watched my father punch my mother so hard that she spit up blood.”
“That moment probably more than any other moment in my life has defined who I am today. Each of my siblings responded differently in ways that would go on to define who we were for much of our lives. If Harry was fight, Ellen was flight, and I became a pleaser,” he read.
Will Smith On The Psychological Effects Of The Abuse
While still reading, Smith said that the effects of the abuse made him a pleaser because he kept trying to make sure there was no reason for his father to get violent.
This ultimately made him label himself a coward because he could do very little to stop the abuse.
He was the “entertainer of the family” because he wanted everything to be enjoyable enough so there would be no violence. This urge to entertain eventually led to “artistic and paradoxical fruits,” even though he still felt his father’s violent episodes were because of him.
The entire experience made him have a broad imagination and the ability to pretend and hide his real emotions, which helped him as an actor later in life. “I could contort my mind to find a smile,” he said.
Bright Never Thought Smith Was A Coward
While Smith talked about why he felt like a coward, he recounted a particularly heartbreaking incident where he watched his father pummel his mother in their bedroom. He and his siblings were helpless and couldn’t do anything until his mother collapsed from the beating.
The “King Richard” star said he developed “An unshakeable feeling that no matter what I have done, no matter how successful I become, no matter how much money I’ve made or how many number one hits I’ve had, how many box office records I’ve broken, there’s that subtle and silent feeling always pulsing in the back of my mind that I’m a coward, that I’ve failed, that I’m sorry, my mom, so sorry.”
Smith’s mother explained that she wasn’t vocal about the abuse because she didn’t want to scare her children. She said she stood up to Willard Sr. and tried to be less submissive so her children wouldn’t be so worried, but this ended up with more violence coming from his end.
When that didn’t work, Bright decided she had had enough and took her children out of the house. “I said, ‘No, I’m not going to do this with my children there. No, this is not going to make them more upset with me screaming and hollering,'” she said.