Lee Thompson Young Suffered from Bipolar Disorder before His Death — a Look Back at the Tragedy

Edduin Carvajal
Sep 24, 2020
01:15 P.M.
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Late actor Lee Thompson Young, best known as Jett Jackson in the Disney Channel show "The Famous Jett Jackson," struggled with bipolar disorder before taking his own life.


Born in February 1984, Young got involved in acting from a very young age. At the age of ten, he took the role of Dr. Martin Luther King in a play titled "A Night of Stars and Dreams."

[Young was] diagnosed with bipolar disorder in his late teenage years.

Lee Thompson Young on October 06, 2004 in in Hollywood, California | Photo: Getty Images



It was after that production that the young actor decided to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. For a few years, Young worked in community theater. However, in 1996, he moved to New York and found himself an agent.

Several months later, he auditioned for (and landed the role of) the title character in "The Famous Jett Jackson." The show aired between 1998 and 2001, and it brought Young some recognition in the film business.

Lee Thompson Young on August 27, 2005 in Miami Beach, Florida | Photo: Getty Images


After that, he was cast as Alex Bauer in "South Beach," Derek in "Scrubs," and Victor Stone a.k.a. Cyborg in "Smallville." Nowadays, actor Ray Fisher is portraying Cyborg in the DC Extended Universe.

While Lee Thompson Young is best known for "The Famous Jett Jackson," he had a long and successful run in the TNT police drama show "Rizzoli & Isles." He portrayed Barry Frost for almost four years (several episodes were posthumously released in 2014).



Unfortunately, the former Disney star was found dead in his home in Los Angeles on August 19, 2013. As reported by the Sydney Morning Herald, he was expected to be on the set of "Rizzoli & Isles" on August 19, but he didn't show up.

Consequently, police were called to do a wellbeing check on him at his North Hollywood apartment, and that's when they found him dead. The passing of the 29-year-old actor was ruled a suicide.


Following Young's death, TNT, Warner Bros, and the show's executive producer Janet Tamaro released a joint statement lamenting the events. The statement read:

"Lee will be cherished and remembered by all who knew and loved him, both on- and offscreen, for his positive energy, infectious smile, and soulful grace."


Tamaro also admitted to being heartbroken for Young's loss, even describing him as a "sweet, gentle, good-hearted, [and] intelligent" man who was one of the members of their family.

Disney Channel released a statement, as well, extending their condolences to Young's loved ones and fans and confessing that they could not adequately express their sadness.



A couple of months after Lee Thompson Young's death, it was revealed that he was suffering from (and taking medication for) bipolar disorder, as well as depression, at the time of his passing.

Investigators found traces of his medicine (Lithium and Quetiapine Fumarate) in his blood. Apart from that, they didn't find any evidence of alcohol, opiates, or other drugs in his system.


Only five days before taking his own life, Young spoke with his doctor for the last time and appeared to be okay, the New York Daily News reported.

His doctor pointed out that he was not aware of any financial issues or suicidal threats. The late actor didn't leave a suicide note.



Years after his passing, Young's mother explained that he had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder in his late teenage years, when she started noticing periods of sadness that used to stabilize quickly.

His sister Tamu Lewis also revealed that Young used to call her and say that he was feeling "a little sad again," but that he managed to recover quickly from it.


Following Young's death, his family launched the Lee Thompson Young Foundation as a way to try to help remove the stigma surrounding mental illness, as well as to advance holistic health treatment and improve the lives of people impacted with them.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text "help" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741, or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.


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