Following The Passing Of tWitch, Tyler Perry Discloses His History With Suicide Attempts

Tyler Perry in Those Who Wish Me Dead
(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

This week, the public has been mourning the shocking death of Stephen “tWitch” Boss, who was a freestyle dancer, The Ellen DeGeneres Show co-host and So You Think You Can Dance judge. Following news that Boss was found dead on Tuesday by suicide, filmmaker and actor Tyler Perry opened up about his own past with suicide attempts in order to spread a positive message to other people who may be going through related struggles. 

Tyler Perry has previously disclosed that he attempted suicide more than once in the past as a child with an abusive father. Following Stephen “tWitch” Boss’ death this week, Perry took to Instagram to share the public’s “shock” and share these words: 

I've only met him a couple of times. He was always full of life, it seemed like such a light. With that said, I just want to take you back to a time in my life when I tried to commit suicide, a couple of times, because it was so dark. I didn't think it would get any better. I had endured so much pain, so much abuse, sexual abuse, it was all so hard to just move through that I thought the only way to make this better was to end my life. Had any of those attempts happened, I would've missed the best part of my life.

Perry sought to speak to anyone considering suicide in his message. Along with sharing resources, which you can find for yourself or a loved one at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the National Suicide Prevention Helpline at 800-273-8255, he also said this: 

I know it may seem like there's no hope, but please reach out to someone ... call, ask for help if you are dealing with anything, anything that is emotionally taking you to a place where you think you want to end your life.

In the video, Perry spoke about finding himself in a place where he’s the ”happiest” he’s “ever been” thanks to his attempts not working. The actor and filmmaker shared that his life is full of “joy and love” these days, and he challenged folks who may have suicidal thoughts to think about what could be on the other side for them. Check out the full message: 

He struggled with depression as a teenager while living in an abusive household with a father Perry described as violent and "whose answer to everything was to beat it out of you,” per Biography. Additionally, the Madea star has also alleged that he was sexually abused by four different adults outside his home as well. Perry, who was born Emmitt Perry Jr. decided to change his name to Tyler in order to distance himself from an abusive father. 

Perry would go on to break into Hollywood and eventually open Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta. Some of his films in the past have touched on abuse-related storylines. Perry’s latest movie was A Jazzman's Blues, which is currently available to stream with a Netflix subscription

Perry’s message received over 300 thousand likes and comments from the likes of Reese Witherspoon, who thanked him for sharing his heart, and Tyrese Gibson, who wrote a lengthy comment echoing his sentiments and telling Perry that the public has a “new level of respect” for him for opening up. 

As we continue to process the death of Stephen “tWitch” Boss, a larger conversation about mental health and suicide can be had about the public, including with Perry’s recent and thoughtful comments following his own experiences with suicidal thoughts. 

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.