“How I know I had mental health problems was I pulled the trigger,” Lil Wayne said while speaking with Emmanuel Acho during the Aug. 15 installment of Uncomfortable Conversations. During the chat, Wayne, 38, spoke honestly on surviving a suicide attempt at age 12. After getting in trouble after his mother learned he was skipping class and worried that she wasn’t going to allow him to rap anymore — “‘She about to take that rap folder, she about to throw that sh-t away,’” Wayne remembered his aunt telling him – Wayne’s main thought was he “gonna show” her.
“I picked up the phone, I called the police,” he said. “Yes, I knew where she put her gun, and it was in her bedroom. And so I went in her bedroom and grabbed the gun. I already made the phone call, looked in the mirror.” Wayne said he held the gun to his head but pulled it away. “Got a little too scared, that was my head. … but I said ‘f-ck, it.’ Biggie was on. I’m looking in the mirror so you could look through the mirror, and the television was behind me. So, I was watching the video through the mirror. ‘One More Chance’ was on. And Biggie was already gone or something. So, I was looking, 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.”
Wayne said he shot himself in the chest – “Didn’t feel it. Aimed for my heart and didn’t feel a thing, though” – and woke up to the sound of the police knocking on his door. Wayne took this as a sign for him to fight for his life, and he pushed him across the wooden floor and used the last ounce of energy he had left to kick at the door. “I started hearing them go crazy. Like, ‘someone’s in there, someone’s in there.’” The cops rushed Wayne to the hospital, where he recovered.
The rapper reflected on what drove him to take such a drastic move, and Wayne thinks the lack of openness and communication in his home led to the suicide attempt. “You have no one to vent to, no one to get this out to,” he said. “You can’t bring it to your friends at school — You’re still trying to be cool to them. You’re not trying to let them know you’ve got something going on at home.” Wayne also said the experience transformed his mother. “The mom that I knew before that day, on my life and everyone’s life, I have never met or seen or heard that lady again in my life. So I didn’t die that day, but somebody was gone. She’d never been that way. …Obviously, that was an eye-opener for her.”
At first, Wayne, born Dwayne Michael Carter Jr., maintained that the self-inflicted gunshot wound was an accident. But, when he referenced the shooting in songs like 2015’s “London Roads” and 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”), the story seemed to change. Ultimately, he confirmed it was a suicide attempt when speaking with Billboard in 2018.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.