Regina King Loses Her Son to Suicide: What It Means for Us Black Moms
January 24, 2022
By Valerie Cordero, Co-Executive Director, Families for Depression Awareness
Photo: Ian Alexander, Jr. and mom, Regina King. Credit—Regina King/Instagram
Scrolling through social media on Friday night, I saw the headline that actress Regina King’s son, Ian Alexander, Jr., died by suicide. He was 26 years old. Though each suicide I hear of hits me hard, this one hit particularly hard. Maybe it’s because I love and respect Regina King as an actress, director, activist, and phenomenal Black woman and I mourn for her loss. Maybe it’s because the untimely death of any Black young man makes me reflexively worry about my own son.
It seems clear from published reports about Ian that he was a bright, talented person who loved his mother dearly. On her 50th birthday, he posted on Instagram, “to have you as my mother is the greatest gift I could ask for. To be all that you are while always having the time to be there, love and support me unconditionally is truly remarkable.” Regina King’s spokesman shared a family statement affirming that Ian was “a bright light who cared so deeply about the happiness of others.”
We may or may not learn more details about Ian’s mental health history. Regardless, he must have been in some degree of emotional pain to end his life. It could have been a pain he was working through with a mental health professional and/or his family. He could have been suffering quietly. I’m heartbroken for him that his pain caused him to feel that there was no other way.
I know that Ms. King and the rest of Ian’s family and friends will never be the same. There is nothing I can do for them personally other than pray for their strength to go on. But, as a fellow Black mom, I’m going to:
- Hug my son a little tighter today.
- Remind him that I will always be there for him.
- Reassure him that, no matter what the world tells him, he is worthy of love, respect, safety, and joy.
- Tell him that it’s okay to cry if he needs to.
- Seek professional help for him if he struggles with depression, anxiety, or any other mental health issue.
- Be honest with him about our family mental health history.
- Verbally praise men (especially Black men) who have sought therapy or other mental wellness activities.
- Build up his supports to include family, wise elders, community, friends, and connections to our rich spiritual heritage.
- Ensure that he knows what resources are available if he needs crisis intervention.
If you or someone you know needs mental health support now, contact a local mobile crisis unit or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1 (800) 273-8255.
Photo: Valerie and her son, 2011. Credit—Valerie Cordero.