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Feb 2, 2023

In this episode of Beyond Theory, a podcast powered by Meadows Behavioral Healthcare, host Dominic Lawson interviews Tamu Lewis, co-founder and board president of the Lee Thompson Young Foundation. Tamu shares the story of her talented younger brother, actor Lee Thompson Young, and his struggles with bipolar disorder and tragic death by suicide.


Lee, best known for his roles in Disney's "The Famous Jett Jackson" and TNT's "Rizzoli & Isles," was a gifted performer and scholar who graduated with honors from the prestigious USC School of Cinematic Arts. Despite his success, Lee privately battled bipolar disorder, a mental health condition characterized by extreme mood swings, from the age of 19.


Tamu recounts the devastating moment when she learned of her brother's suicide in August 2013 and the immense grief, shock, and guilt that followed. She emphasizes the importance of seeking therapy and support to cope with such a profound loss.


The episode also highlights the rising rates of suicide in the Black community, particularly among Black males. Tamu stresses the need for greater mental health awareness, education, and resources to address this crisis.


Through the Lee Thompson Young Foundation, Tamu and her mother are working to erase the stigma surrounding mental illness and promote mental health education. The foundation provides coping tools to youth and encourages open conversations about mental health challenges.


Tamu also calls on the entertainment industry to better support the mental well-being of its performers by providing on-set mental health professionals and wellness activities.


Key Takeaways:


1. Recognizing the Signs of Mental Illness: Tamu Lewis shares the early signs of her brother Lee Thompson Young's bipolar disorder, including agitation and confusion, highlighting the importance of mental health awareness.



2. Breaking the Stigma in the Black Community: The episode addresses the rising rates of suicide among Black males and the need for open conversations about mental health to shatter the stigma.



3. Coping with Grief After Suicide Loss: Tamu emphasizes the importance of seeking therapy and support to cope with the profound grief, shock, and guilt following the loss of a loved one to suicide.



4. Mental Health in the Entertainment Industry: The pressure and working conditions in Hollywood can exacerbate mental health issues, underlining the need for on-set mental health professionals and wellness resources.



5. Promoting Mental Health Education: The Lee Thompson Young Foundation works to promote mental health education, provide coping tools to youth, and encourage open dialogues about mental well-being.



6. Inspiring Hope and Resilience: Despite his struggles, Lee Thompson Young achieved remarkable success while managing bipolar disorder, serving as an inspiration to others facing mental health challenges.



7. Seeking Help and Support: Free, confidential mental health support is available 24/7 by calling or texting 988, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.



8. Honoring Lee Thompson Young's Legacy: By sharing Lee's story, Tamu hopes to inspire others to prioritize mental health, seek support, and realize their potential while managing mental illness.



Lifeline (

Beyond Theory, powered by Meadows Behavioral Healthcare, is produced and hosted by me, Dominic Lawson. You can discover more at 

Special thanks to Tamu Lewis, Co-Founder and Board President of the Lee Thompson Young Foundation. To learn more about her work go to

Sources to create this episode include the Atlanta Voice, ABC7 Chicago, and CBS Studios. 

Finally, thank you for listening, and I hope you join us next week for another episode of Beyond Theory.