November 11th, 2010
03:57 PM ET
This year began with tragedy for Marie Osmond, who lost her son Michael Bryan in February when he committed suicide by jumping from the eighth-floor balcony of his Los Angeles apartment.
Osmond, 51, sat down with Oprah Winfrey for Thursday’s edition of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” to talk about her loss for the first and last time.
After an experience such as this, “I don’t know if you’re ever ready to talk,” Osmond told Winfrey. But she added, “I knew you would be the person I would talk to, and I just think, if anybody asked after that I’d say I talked about it on ‘Oprah.’ I didn’t want it to be handled crazily.”
And so the famed entertainer began to relive the painful details, starting with the phone call she’d had with her 18-year-old son the day before his death.
Although Michael had a tough childhood - he started abusing drugs at 12, Osmond said, which led to time in rehab - he was happy during the month before. Yet when Osmond spoke with him on the phone that day, he noticeably was not.
“It was concerning to me, because it was the first time I’d heard him start to cry and say that he was alone, that he had no friends and that he felt despair. When I heard that it brought up so many red flags for me. I said, ‘Michael, it’s going to be okay,’” Osmond recalled. “When I heard him say, ‘I have no friends,’ it brought back when I went through depression because you feel so alone…I told him, ‘I’m going to be there Monday and it’s going to be okay.’ But depression doesn’t wait until Monday.”
The next night, Osmond was performing with her brother Donny at the duo’s show in Las Vegas, and while she was getting ready to go back out on stage, Michael called her again.
“I was just running out when my phone rang. As I was walking out he called my daughter Rachel, and I said, ‘Oh good, tell Mike that I’ll call when I’m done.” Osmond said he called her around 8:45, 8:50 p.m., and according to the coroner’s report, he died shortly after, around 9:30 p.m.
“I believe in female intuition. I especially believe in mother’s intuition,” Osmond said. When Michael didn’t pick up the phone, “I knew something was wrong.”
By 2 a.m. that morning, Osmond had received word about Michael. The note that he'd left on his bed “basically said that he knew that morning was the last time he’d get up, brush his teeth, make his bed, eat breakfast. He’d made the decision I guess. That he loved his family, but the pain was so intense.”
Osmond said she understood the state of mind her son was in. “When I had post-partum [depression], I remember vividly driving that car and thinking… probably a handful of times, I believed that people would be better off without me. But it was my age that told me, ‘Marie you’re crazy.’ But kids don’t have that age behind them. At 18 everything is hopeless.”
It wasn’t the first time she’d seen her son battle through tough times; he'd attempted to take his life before.
When Osmond was doing “Dancing with the Stars,” Michael received bad news about some things that had happened to his family members (which Osmond didn't specify), and there were also the issues his mother was facing: going through a public divorce, the death of her father and custody battles. “He couldn’t deal with it; he loved his family,” Osmond said. “He promised that he’d never do it again and I believed him.”
Whatever he may have been facing that February morning, “I do believe that there are moments that you slip into insanity and you no longer think rationally. I believe that because I knew my son, and I believed that’s what happened,” she said.
With the recent press given to the stories of gay teens who have committed suicide after being bullied, there were rumors that Michael committed suicide for the same reason, Winfrey pointed out.
“My son was not gay,” Osmond clarified, adding, “It wouldn’t matter if he was. I have a daughter who is gay. And it was my daughter who was offended by it, because she was like, ‘what, all gay people commit suicide?’”
As for the youth who have died, their reason wasn’t “that they’re gay,” Osmond went on, “it’s the bullying. It’s the abusive, beating someone’s self worth down that to me is the cause of that.”
The Osmond family still talk about Michael and cherish their memories, she said. However, for the upcoming holidays the family will be in New York, where Marie and Donny Osmond will perform on Broadway, as a diversion from the reality that Michael won't be with them this year.
“I‘ve been through some tough things in my life, but this is probably the hardest thing I’ve been through,” Osmond said. And while there are always “what if’s” to ponder, “If you live in ‘what ifs’ you stop living,” she went on. “I had to put it in God’s hands. I have other children that I have to be strong for.”
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