Things That Matter

Gloria Estefan Reveals She Contemplated Suicide In Her Teens In Episode of ‘Red Table Talk: The Estefans’

Photo: Lars Niki/Getty Images

In an emotional “Red Table Talk: The Estefans” episode, Gloria Estefan opened up about a particularly dark time in her life.

In the special episode dedicated to mental health, Estefan revealed to her daughter, Emily and her niece, Lili, that she once contemplated suicide as a teenager.

“I’ve always felt very good in my own skin, except when I was fifteen, and my dad had already spent a year at home and I was taking care of him. And he was heading downhill fast,” she explained on RTT.

Photo: Red Table Talk: The Estefans/ Facebook Watch

Estefan went on to describe how her mental health crisis was largely due to her father’s declining emotional state and physical health after he returned from fighting in the Vietnam War.

“Even though my father survived the Vietnam War, he still became a casualty of combat,” she said. “His exposure to ‘Agent Orange’–a poison used for warfare–resulted in his diagnosis of multiple sclerosis.”

According to Estefan, being a teenaged girl having to take care of her sick father took a deep emotional toll on her.

“He lost his ability to speak, he couldn’t walk, he would stand up to try to go to the bathroom and he would fall and he would soil himself,” she said. “I would have to bathe him. He would be crying, embarrassed. And trying to make me feel better. That’s what would kill me.”

She also explained that she didn’t want to burden her loved ones with her painful feelings. “I didn’t want to tell my mother that I was starting to feel cracks in my armor. I didn’t want to tell my grandmother because I didn’t want to worry her,” she said.

Estefan was visibly emotional as she told her daughter and niece that she even had specific fantasies about taking her own life–which is one of the major warning signs of a suicidal person.

“I knew where [my father’s] gun was and I started having desperation thoughts,” she said. “I remember going to the place thinking, okay the gun is there, but what if instead I hang myself because that might be bloody? I had even picked out the tree that I might do it on.” Her daughter Lili looked distressed as Estefan recounted this painful time in her life.

Estefan says what “got her through” her suicidal episode was “thinking of other people that she loved” and how they would react to living without her. “I took myself through the whole process [of what would happen afterward],” she said. “I think it helped, for me, to imagine what life was going to be like forever for the people that I loved.”

After she got through this dark emotional period, Estefan said she got her life back by “focusing on school” and eventually meeting her husband, Emilio, which also helped bring her out of her depression.

The powerful episode aired on Wednesday and includes special guests Karla Souza and Lele Pons who also talk about their mental health battles. You can watch it on Facebook Watch here.

If you or someone you love is depressed or contemplating suicide, please don’t hesitate to call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) at any time for support.

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Kate del Castillo Sets the Record Straight About El Chapo on ‘Red Table Talk: The Estefans’

Entertainment

Kate del Castillo Sets the Record Straight About El Chapo on ‘Red Table Talk: The Estefans’

Photos: JC Olivera/Alfredo Estrella/Getty Images

In a bombshell episode of “Red Table Talk: The Estefans”, superstar Mexican actress Kate del Castillo went on the record about the event that changed the course of her life: her meeting with the notorious Mexican drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán.

In an episode entitled “Surviving Betrayal: Kate del Castillo’s Comeback”, the telenovela star attempts to clear her name.

As background, del Castillo attracted global attention when the media discovered that she had been talking to and visiting with El Chapo after his 2015 escape from prison. According to del Castillo, their entire relationship (which she insists was strictly platonic) was sparked by a message she Tweeted out in which she said: “Today I believe more in El Chapo Guzman than in the governments that hide truths from me.” Emboldened by this state, El Chapo took it upon himself to contact the telenovela actress, whom he had long admired, for a meeting. 

Screenshot via Facebook/Red Table Talk: The Estefans

Del Castillo insisted that the meeting was purely business-related. 

Del Castillo told El Chapo she wanted to make a movie about his life, and he agreed. Soon enough, Oscar-winning actor Sean Penn expressed his interest in the movie. And before they knew it, Penn, his producers, and del Castillo all hopped on a private jet to meet El Chapo.

It was at this meeting that Penn conducted his infamous “Rolling Stone” interview with El Chapo–an interview that del Castillo helped translate. Del Castillo told the Estefans that El Chapo was staring at her with a massive smile on his face the whole time she was there–he only had eyes for her. 

At the end of the night, El Chapo showed her to the room she would be staying in. “We didn’t even know that we were going to stay there!” del Castillo told the Estefans. “I thought I was going to be raped and definitely killed or something like that. He could’ve done whatever the hell he wanted to.” But El Chapo left her alone and the visit ended shortly after that. 

Del Castillo claims that her and Penn got out of there in the nick of time. “Literally 24-hours after we left, the military came in and started shooting,” she said. 

Although del Castillo left the meeting with her life intact, her future was forever changed.

Screenshot via Facebook/Red Table Talk: The Estefans

Del Castillo was charged by the Mexican government with obstruction of justice and money laundering. Sean Penn, however, struck a deal with “Rolling Stone” to be covered under journalism laws–he and his producing partners got off scott-free.

More than anything, del Castillo felt betrayed and foolish that she was used as a pawn by Sean Penn. “When all of us committed the same crime, why was I the only one with charges?” del Castillo asked the Estefans. Not only was del Castillo embroiled in legal controversy, but a media circus cropped up around her as well.

Rumors of a romance between her and El Chapo abounded–rumors that she vehemently denies. 

Del Castillo choked up as she explains the torture that her parents went through in those days. “[The press] were saying that I was ‘la puta del Chapo’. That I had business with him, that I was laundering money.” But del Castillo says her parents always stood by her and never believed the rumors.

Because of the ordeal, Kate del Castillo was forced to flee Mexico, leaving her family, friends, and career behind. She has now taken up residence in Los Angeles. But del Castillo feels anything but safe. “I got a gun, and I sleep with my gun next to me,” she revealed. She believes that the Mesican government is embarassed that she was able to locate El Chapo before they were. “Everybody here knows that if something happens to me or my family, it’s not el cartel. It’s going to be the Mexican government,” she said. 

To this day, there is no evidence that El Chapo ever paid del Castillo any money. But still, del Castillo has not returned to Mexico. Check out the “Red Table Talk: the Estefans” episode, “Surviving Betrayal: Kate del Castillo’s Comeback” here.

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New York City Will Try to Answer Mental Health Calls With Crisis Workers Instead of Police Officers

Things That Matter

New York City Will Try to Answer Mental Health Calls With Crisis Workers Instead of Police Officers

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

It looks like New York City is taking a much-needed step forward in the area of police reform. Last Tuesday, New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio and his wife, Chirlane McCray, announced a brand new pilot program in which mental health crisis workers, instead of police, will be dispatched in response to non-violent mental health calls.

“For the first time in our city’s history, health responders will be the default responders for a person in crisis, making sure those struggling with mental illness receive the help they need,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio in a statement.

According to CNN, New York City received over 170,000 mental health-related calls in 2019.

That is roughly one call every three minutes. Police officers respond to every one of those calls–regardless if there is a threat of violence.

DeBlasio’s statement explained that police officers would accompany mental health workers if there was any threat of violence. The program, which is set to begin in February, will be tested out in two unidentified “high-need” neighborhoods.

The pilot program is in response to near-universal calls for police reform that raised to a fever pitch in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of police.

Advocates of police reform argue that American police are over-militarized and tend to escalate conflict instead of de-escalating. This can be particularly frustrating in the cases of people with mental health problems, who often need a doctor more than they need a police officer.

“Treating mental-health crises as mental-health challenges and not public safety ones is the modern and more appropriate approach,” wrote McCray in a press release. “That is because most individuals with psychiatric concerns are much more likely to be victims or harm themselves than others.’’

Ideally, a program like this will encourage families to no longer be afraid of calling emergency services if a loved one is having a mental health crisis. No one should be afraid of losing their life when they call 911 for help.

The general response to this new experiment was that of both optimism and skepticism.

One former police officer told CNN that the program had promise, but he was worried for situations when a mentally ill person “turns on a dime” and becomes violent with little provocation.

This person pointed out that mental health pros have better training at de-escalating situations.

Unfortunately, police officers don’t have the robust training in handling mentally ill people as social workers and crisis workers do.

This person is glad that the police will still be an option if back-up is needed:

We’ve heard one too many stories about disabled or mentally ill children and/or adults being violently dealt with by police officers. This program sounds like it could be a stepping stone.

This person made an interesting point about “defunding the police” vs “funding social services”

Sometimes, something as simple as changing semantics can make all the difference. We should be re-routing funds to make people safer, not to further militarize the police.

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