The girl made the tragic decision to end her own life because she was unable to take on the bullying she had to endure in school due to her condition.
Trigger Warning: This story mentions suicide which may be disturbing to readers.
Jada Pinkett Smith first revealed her struggles with Alopecia in 2018. Since then, she has been open about how it has affected her life, including sharing how people have mocked her and made fun of her. While Pinkett Smith was able to take the mean comments that came her way, not everyone can remain unaffected by bullying.
During a recent episode of Red Table Talk, released June 1, 2022, Pinkett Smith, 50, along with her daughter Willow Smith and her mother Adrienne Banfield-Norris, sat down with Niki Ball, the mother of a 12-year-old daughter who also suffered from alopecia, according to PEOPLE.
Ball's daughter, Rio, was severely bullied due to her condition, which led her to take the extreme step and die by suicide in March. The little one had started to develop alopecia while at home early in the pandemic, Ball explained. It started with a bald spot on her head, and soon Rio's hair started falling out "by the handful," leading to a diagnosis of alopecia areata.
The girl was so strong that she dealt with it like a pro. "With the hair loss, she was so strong," Ball said of Rio in the exclusive clip from the episode that was aired before the whole episode was released. "She still rocked it even when it was falling out, and she just had these big bald patches. Tried the creams. They made her break out. Tried the injections, she took five of them in one day. But neither of them really did anything."
Eventually, she herself asked her mother if she could shave off her hair. Rio then asked, "can we just shave my head?" Ball said. "And so we did. And she just GLOWED."
"And then with school coming up, we got her that super cute wig, she loved it, and she glowed then," Ball continued. "But at school, within a couple of weeks, she was like, 'I don't want to wear it anymore, there's no point.' She had it ripped off her head. She'd get smacked upside on the head walking down the hallway. And that was within the first two weeks, three weeks. It got really bad for her."
The kids at school called Rio a "naked mole rat," a "bug-eyed alien" and "Mr. and Mrs. Clean."
Ball recalled how three weeks before her death, Rio "had a really bad day" at school and "just lost it" when she got in the car to go home. "I knew this was very serious," Ball said. She went to her school to talk to the teachers and administrators, and she even spoke to Rio and assured her that she had "an army of people" on her side.
But none of that mattered. On March 14, 2022, Rio died by suicide. Ball said it "was the worst day of my life."
"She was so smart. She was just brilliant," the heartbroken mother shared. "And she was funny. She was a great big sister. She loved reading and writing and sketching. She loved being in the band."
In the clip, it was very evident that along with the mother, the hosts were also trying to hold back their tears. This truly is heartbreaking, especially for Pinkett Smith who can understand exactly what the poor girl must have gone through before taking such a drastic step. As Pinkett Smith cried along with Ball, she told her that Rio's story is one of the reasons why people "need an understanding around the devastation of this condition."
Disclaimer: If you are having thoughts about taking your own life, or know of anyone who is, please contact The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)
Cover Image Source: Facebook | Red Table Talk (Alopecia: The Devastating Impact)