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Jada Pinkett Smith cries with mother whose daughter died by suicide after being bullied for her alopecia

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Jada Pinkett Smith sat down with the mother of a 12-year-old girl named Rio who took her own life after being bullied for her alopecia at school.

In a clip from an upcoming episode of Red Table Talk, Niki Ball explains how her daughter was tormented for having the autoimmune condition that causes hair to fall out.

This usually happens in patches on the scalp or other places on the body that grows hair, such as the beard, eyebrows, or eyelashes.

Pinkett Smith has had the illness since 2018.

In the new clip, Ball said: “Rio was so strong. She still rocked [her look] even when [her hair] were falling out, and she just had these big bald patches.

“[She] 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.”

Rio then asked her mother whether they could “just shave” her head, Ball said. “And so we did. And she just glowed.”

Jada Pinkett Smith has had alopecia since 2018 (Jada Pinkett Smith/ Instagram)
Jada Pinkett Smith has had alopecia since 2018 (Jada Pinkett Smith/ Instagram)

“And then with school coming up, we got her that super cute wig, she loved it, and she glowed then,” Ball added. “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.”

When Pinkett-Smith asked Ball about what kind of things other kids used to call Rio, she said they used to call her a “naked mole rat, a bug-eyed alien and Mr and Mrs Clean”.

The teary-eyed mother said that 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.”

Rio died on 14 March 2022.

“She was so smart. She was just brilliant,” Ball said. “And she was funny. She was a great big sister. She loved reading and writing and sketching. She loved being in the band.”

Towards the end of the clip, Pinkett Smith, her daughter Willow, and her mother Adrienne Banfield-Norris can be seen crying along with Ball as they tell the audience that Rio’s story is a huge reason why everyone need “an understanding around the devastation of this condition”.

If you are experiencing feelings of distress and isolation, or are struggling to cope, The Samaritans offers support; you can speak to someone for free over the phone, in confidence, on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email jo@samaritans.org, or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch.

If you are based in the USA, and you or someone you know needs mental health assistance right now, call National Suicide Prevention Helpline on 1-800-273-TALK (8255). The Helpline is a free, confidential crisis hotline that is available to everyone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

If you are in another country, you can go to www.befrienders.org to find a helpline near you.

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