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Last year, on August 19, many were stunned and saddened to hear about the news of Lee Thompson Young’s death. The actor, known for his work on the Disney show, The Famous Jett Jackson, and his recent work on the TNT show Rizzoli & Isles, was found dead in his LA apartment from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. 

On Tuesday of this week, the TNT show said goodbye to the actor and his character, Barry, who they had a funeral for after the character was written out of the program, passing from injuries in a car accident. A montage of images of Young were shown in the tearful send-off. In recognition of the episode, Young’s mother and sister decided to break their silence about the loss of their beloved son and brother in an interview with WIS in Hartford, Connecticut. They want to raise awareness about bipolar disorder, which Young’s mother, Velma Love, says he was diagnosed with as a teen.

“In his late teenage years, he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and I noticed some periods of sadness and that stabilized quickly. Some of a person’s inner life, you really don’t know.

According to experts, depressive episodes can last for almost two weeks, and it causes those struggling with it to quickly go from moments of great joy, to very deep sadness. His sister, Tamu Lewis also recalls Young’s struggles.

“He would sometimes call me and say he was feeling a little sad again. Again, it was always a quick recovery.” 

And medication and therapy helped with that quick recovery. But when Young committed suicide last year, he was battling with a heavy depression that he couldn’t deal with. The loss of the actor was very tough, as expected, for the family. There are still answers that Ms. Love is searching for.

“After we learned that Lee had been found dead in his apartment from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, we, of course, were stunned. I guess that’s the question that everyone would ask. And we really don’t know those answers and there’s really no way to know.”

But Lewis says that the loss of her brother does provide a chance to spread the word about bipolar disorder, and the family wants to do that through the Lee Thompson Young foundation. The mission for the foundation is to help to create “a world in which mental illness is recognized by all as a treatable, biological disorder and the stigma associated with it no longer exists; a world that supports and encourages wholeness and well being at every stage of life.”

“We know Lee wasn’t the only one. And for them to see everything he accomplished in the 29 years, I mean, it’s more than some people accomplish in their whole lives. He was able to do that even with the mental illness. And, yes, it ended tragically, but through that we’re inspired.”


WFSB 3 Connecticut

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