Lil Wayne didn’t hold back in a new interview in which he discussed battling mental health issues at a young age and attempting suicide at 12.
The 38-year-old rapper sat down with Emmanuel Acho, former NFL player and author of Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man, for Sunday’s (Aug. 15) edition of Acho’s Uncomfortable Conversations series. During the 17-minute conversation, Wayne said he started noticing his mental health issues as early as 10 years old. “When I was told that I couldn’t have what I wanted, what I dreamed of and what I desired and that was to rap,” he said. “I was willing to die for it.”
But while the Young Money MC had dreams of being a rapper, the then-12-year-old realized that he had other thoughts preoccupying his mind, “thoughts like killing yourself,” he specified. He told Acho about how after he lied to his mother, Jacida Carter, about his school schedule and she found out, his aunt called to warn him and said his mother was going to throw away his up-and-coming rap career.
“So that was a buildup. … Thoughts everywhere. Main thought was, ‘I’m gonna show you.’ … 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, did like that,” he continued while pointing his fingers like a gun to the side of his head. “Of course, it was like, ‘Oh no,’ ’cause I got a little too scared, that was my head. Like ‘Nah nah.’ But then I said, ‘F— it.'”
Wayne said The Notorious B.I.G.’s “One More Chance” music video was playing on the TV screen that he could spot in the mirror. “I was like, ‘You know what? Start thinking I had to get myself mad and noticed that I didn’t have to.’ That’s what scared me. How I knew I had mental health problems was I pulled the trigger,” he said.
When Acho asked where he shot, he said, “In my chest. Didn’t feel it, aimed for my heart. And didn’t feel a thing, though. So I wasn’t going through any pain. It was the shock. I woke up to boom, boom, boom, to the police knocking. And that’s what woke me up.”
He described how he kept lying on the floor, noticing the white walls and ceiling and convincing himself he was seeing the white light he believed as a kid was what one see when one dies. Wayne remembered the knocking on the door had stopped, and he described mustering up the energy to slide his body across the bloody floor to the door and kick it to signal to the cops that someone was inside.
Once they took the door off its hinges, police swept through the house and proclaimed they found a gun and drugs, but Wayne said a man — off-duty officer Robert Hoobler, whom he calls Uncle Bob — was the only person who acknowledged him, picked him up off the floor and took him to the hospital in a police car instead of waiting for an ambulance to arrive.
The five-time Grammy-winning artist rapped about his attempted suicide on his 2015 track “London Roads” from the Free Weezy Album: “Ms. Cita, I remember goin’ in your gun drawer/ Puttin’ it to my chest and missin’ my heart by centimeters, oh Lord.” The following year, he addressed it again on his guest verse on Solange’s “Mad”: “And when I attempted suicide, I didn’t die/I remember how mad I was on that day/Man, you gotta let it go before it get up in the way/Let it go, let it go.”
While Wayne came to fame in his later teenage years, he said the mental health problems didn’t evaporate, but they evolved as he felt “alone all the time.” “When those doors close or when the lights out after the ‘Ahh Thank you!’ then you get to the bus, then them doors close,” he described the setting for his post-concert thoughts. “Do anyone actually care? Will it matter when it’s all over? Will I matter?”
As continuing to put out music has made Wayne “so happy” these days, he wishes more people understood the reality of mental health. “It’s so real that we should only react in the realest way possible,” he advised. “And if you a parent of a kid with a mental health problem or something … react with the realest reaction. I ain’t saying be like my mom, but all I know is from that day, from that day forward, I had never seen or met that lady again. That was the realest reaction she could’ve gave. The “How to Love” rapper previously noted his mother was completely changed after the day of his attempted suicide, which he said was “an eye opener for her” and the whole family.
Wayne also addressed his attempted suicide during his 2018 Billboard cover story, when he played a track from his album Tha Carter V that admitted he didn’t accidentally shoot himself in the chest as he had previously stated. That summer, Wayne added new lyrics following the suicides of designer Kate Spade and TV personality Anthony Bourdain.
“He just told me one day that he was ready to address it now,” Mack Maine, president of Young Money Entertainment told Billboard at the time. “Just being an adult, reaching a level of maturity and comfort where it’s like, ‘I want to talk about this because I know a lot of people out here might be going through that.'”
Watch Acho and Wayne’s whole discussion on mental health below.
If you or anyone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts and/or distress, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255.