Grammys 2020: Billie Eilish reveals she almost took her own life before she turned 17
Billie Eilish got candid about her mental health in a revealing new interview. The 18-year-old US singer opened up about her struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts. Watch Billie Eilish's entire interview, here.
The 2020 Grammy Awards were big for Billie Eilish. On Monday, the 18-year-old pop star walked away with four of the biggest awards: best new artist, record of the year, album of the year, and song of the year. In winning those four major awards, she also replaced singer Taylor Swift as the youngest-ever solo winner for album of the year and became the first woman and second person ever to win record of the year, album of the year, song of the year, and best new artist in the same year. Eilish dressed in head-to-toe custom Gucci for the special occasion.
Since bursting onto the scene two years ago, Billie Eilish has also emerged as a fierce mental health advocate. Exploring the intricacies of her depression through her music, most distinctly on her Grammy-winning album, When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, the pop singer has been candid in interviews. In her latest, she opened up about her mental and emotional struggles and the way fame has reshaped the landscape of her life, allowing fans a glimpse into the mind of a singer whose music has resonated with millions.
In a special pre-Grammy interview on January 23, Billie Eilish revealed to TV host, Gayle King, that she used to hide self-inflicted cuts on her arms, and she will oftentimes reach out to fans who she sees are struggling, too. "I just grab them by the shoulders, and I'm like, 'Please take care of yourself, and be good to yourself, and be nice to yourself... don't take that extra step and hurt yourself further.'" The musician then revealed that she had thoughts of taking her own life in 2018. It was around that same time that her music career exploded with the release of her single, Ocean Eyes, creating a surreal dichotomy: emotional pain alongside enormous musical success. You can watch Billie Eilish's entire interview, in the above YouTube video.
In the August 2019 cover interview of Rolling Stone magazine, Billie Eilish had said that she believes she started struggling with depression when she was 13. It stemmed from a hip injury that caused the US singer and songwriter to give up dance, a talent she'd been honing for years, and she spiralled into a hole, where she felt like she "deserved to be in pain." This, she said, was her self-harming phase. "I think that's when the depression started. It sent me down a hole," she told the magazine. "I went through a whole self-harming phase — we don't have to go into it. But the gist of it was, I felt like I deserved to be in pain."
Months later, during her special 2020 Grammy Awards interview with Gayle King, Billie Eilish recalled, "I was so unhappy last year. I was so unhappy, and I was so, like, joyless." The pressures of fame had deemed to be overwhelming, and Eilish felt lonely and isolated due to a shrinking group of close friends. She admitted, "I don't want to be too dark, but I genuinely didn't think I would make it to 17." When Gayle King asked if Eilish thought she would "do something to herself" at the time, Eilish responded saying that, yes, she thought she might have. "I think about this one time," Eilish explained. "I was in Berlin, and I was alone in my hotel, and I remember there was a window right there, and God... I remember crying because I was thinking about the way that I was gonna die." Eilish also confirmed to King that the suicidal lyrics, with the repeated phrase, "I wanna end me," in her song, Bury a Friend, were about herself and all based on her own past experiences. Watch it here:
During the interview, Gayle King went on to ask Billie Eilish what pulled her away from that desire to end her life, to which the singer replied, "My mom." Maggie Baird, Eilish's mother, said that she began scaling down her daughter's professional commitments on tour, and she and Eilish's father would regularly follow up with her on whether she wanted to continue doing shows. And, Eilish still did because, Baird said, the fans and the music kept her going.
With therapy and support from her loved ones, Billie Eilish got better. Now, she is a big proponent of speaking out when you're struggling with your mental health. “Depression has controlled sort of like everything in my life,” she said during an interview on Apple Music Beats 1. “For my whole life, I’ve kind of always been a melancholy person.” She also revealed that she hopes to provide solace to her fans who might be fighting similar battles. “Kids use my songs as a hug," she said. "Songs about being depressed or suicidal or completely just against-yourself — some adults think that’s bad, but I feel that seeing that someone else feels just as horrible as you do is a comfort. It’s a good feeling.”
Billie Eilish has also underlined the importance of checking in on the mental health of friends, too. She partnered with a suicide prevention campaign, Seize the Awkward, last year. In a May 2019 video that she shot for the campaign, Eilish talks about the importance of lending a hand to those who need it most. "It's been like that for me," Eilish said. "There have been certain people that have texted me right when I needed to be texted, saying that they loved me and that they were thinking about me. And it really means a lot."