Regina King says ‘sadness will never go away’ about son’s suicide, but she respects his choice

Actor and director Regina King said she’s a “different person” and at times still feels “guilt” following her son’s death by suicide two years ago, but she’s come to “respect and understand” his choice and is now dedicated to honoring “the totality of who he is.”

“I’m a different person, you know, now than I was Jan. 19,” the 53-year-old Oscar-winner said in an interview that aired on “Good Morning America” Thursday. “Grief is a journey. I understand that grief is love that has no place to go.”

It was her first time opening up on television about her son Ian Alexander Jr.’s death by suicide in January 2022 at the age of 26. 

“It’s important to me to honor Ian in the totality of who he is, speak about him in the present because he is always with me, the joy and happiness that he gave all of us,” the “If Beale Street Could Talk” actor and “One Night in Miami” director explained to GMA host Robin Roberts. 

King explained that her son struggled with his mental health, and that she respects his choice.

“When it comes to depression, people expect it to look a certain way and they expect it to look heavy,” King said. “And people expect that … to have to experience this and not be able to have the time to just sit with Ian’s choice, which I respect and understand, you know, that he didn’t wanna be here anymore.”

“That’s a hard thing for other people to receive because they did not live our experience, did not live Ian’s journey,” she said.

But acceptance hasn’t always been an easy road.

“Sometimes it’s a lot of guilt comes over me. When a parent loses a child you still wonder, what could I have done so that wouldn’t have happened?” she said.

Initially after her son’s death, King said, “I was so angry with God, why would that weight be given to Ian?” 

“Of all of the things that we had gone through with the therapy, psychiatrists, programs. Ian was just like ‘I’m tired of talking Mom,’” she continued.

King said her favorite thing about herself “is being Ian’s mom.”

“And I can’t say that with a smile, with tears, with all of the emotions that come with that, I can’t do that if I did not respect the journey,” she said.

“I know that I share this grief with everyone, but no one else is Ian’s mom. Only me. And so, it’s mine and the sadness will never go away. It’ll always be with me,” she added.

King said there are moments she still feels her son’s presence. 

“Sometimes it’ll trigger just laughter. Most times, as of recent, it triggers a smile. But sometimes the absence, his absence, is really loud.”

Ian is King’s only child, shared with her ex-husband, record producer Ian Alexander Sr.

King said she has dedicated her latest film “Shirley,” to her son. She also wore orange, Ian’s favorite color, at Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony.

“Shirley,” directed by John Ridley, tells the story of Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman elected to Congress and follows her 1972 presidential campaign, the first launched by a Black woman.

The film will open in select theaters Friday and premiere on Netflix on March 22.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call or text 988 to reach the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline or chat live at You can also visit for additional support.

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