For her first one-on-one date of “The Bachelorette,” Michelle Young chose the Biotech CEO from San Diego, California – Jamie Skaar. Following a lighthearted time rock climbing, he opened up about his mother’s death during the date’s night portion.
Stop! Spoilers on season 18, episode 2 of “The Bachelorette” are below, focusing on discussions of suicide.
“When I was 24 my mom committed suicide,” the now 32-year-old told Young. “And that just kind of imploded pretty much my entire life. Nothing really mattered anymore, you know.”
He continued, “It took a long while to find anything that actually mattered. I feel like I had to decide why I wanted to come back to life. Actively deciding that it’s worth it: life’s worth it, that people are worth it, that relationships are worth it.”
While Young said her parents are still very much in love, even going grocery shopping together, Skaar admitted he had a “very different family upbringing.” His mother was just 18 years old and his father was 21 years old when he was born, with his sister Teila following a couple of years later.
“The beginning portions of my life were amazing, like my mom was just on it,” Skaar explained. “I was that kid who was just like shining in all my classes and they had actually wanted to skip me up a grade and all those things.”
However, his mother “had a lot of issues with mental health.” As things “started to spiral down,” their family car was repossessed, bills were going unpaid and they eventually moved into his grandparents’ home.
Skaar revealed things “came to a head” when he was 12 to 13 years old. “This one time I was just walking by the bathroom and she comes out and she has a steak knife and she was trying to slit her wrist,” he recounted. “And that just like changed the whole mess of things. From there, it was just like, this person can’t be left alone.”
As a result, he and his sister Teila would alternate not going to school to be at home with their mother.
“It just kind of got to a point where I missed so many days that I technically didn’t have enough days to graduate,” the season 18 contestant continued. “Coming into middle school and high school, it was like gotta show up. And so I would sit in classes like, ‘Oh, I have to be here.’ And wondering like while I’m sitting in math class, ‘Oh, shoot, is this the moment my mom might be taking her life because I’m sitting here in class.’”
In a confessional interview, he added, “You know life is tough. Sometimes we can trick ourselves into thinking that’s how it’s always going to be. What it’s really taught me is that it’s never hard forever.”
Viewers Called out ABC for the Lack of Trigger Warnings & Resources
Following the discussion, the official Twitter account for “The Bachelorette” tweeted, “Thank you for your vulnerability, Jamie.” It was then re-tweeted by the show’s creator, Mike Fleiss.
Viewers joined in celebrating Skaar’s willingness to discuss suicide, like one user who wrote, “All jokes aside, mental health is such an important topic and Jamie sharing his experience with losing his mother to suicide is a conversation that people need to hear.”
However, many tweets called out the show and ABC for not providing a trigger warning or resources. “Wow ABC a trigger warning would’ve been REALLY HELPFUL for this 1-on-1 conversation. Yes, this show makes a point of bringing up trauma on these dates. However, that is NO EXCUSE to suddenly expose viewers to stories of self harm and suicide with no head’s up,” tweeted another fan.
Others took the opportunity to promote the suicide prevention resources, as one person noted, “If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, you are not alone. National Suicide Prevention lifeline can help: 1-800-273-TALK 1-800-273-8255.”
Skaar Faces Backlash Over Rose Ceremony Behavior
While Bachelor Nation was quick to praise Skaar for his one-on-one date vulnerability, many said it did not excuse his behavior during the rose ceremony’s cocktail party.
Skaar went into the night with a rose from his date, but still approached the Bachelorette to tell her that her authenticity and trust have been called into question. He told Young, “There’s been a whole bunch of talk today about this kind of feeling that maybe you might have known Joe [Campbell] before here.”
Skaar continued, claiming a Minnesota-based friend ran into her at a bar and shared “She’s been with a tall, light-skinned baller.”
Young confronted her suitors, revealing Campbell “ghosted” her after the two exchanged direct messages years ago. She also called out the habit of others to assume she is dating any man of color with whom she is seen. After being met with silence from the group, she cancelled the rest of the cocktail party.
The contrasting portrayal of Skaar caused one fan to tweet, “How does one go from telling a story of his mom committing suicide to saying I don’t care that Michelle is upset about a lie that has the whole house upset.”
Someone else added, “As someone who had a parent commit suicide, I admire Jamie’s ability to share his story with the world… as a person whose parent committed suicide – it does NOT give you a reason to question someone’s character and make up stories because of your own insecurities.”
“The Bachelorette” airs on ABC every Tuesday at 8 p.m. Eastern.
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