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Dolly Parton says she contemplated suicide years ago on new podcast

“I was having some serious conversations with God during that time,” she said. “I just said, ‘You’re going to have to get me some answers or I’m getting out of here.’”
/ Source: TODAY

In a new podcast series out Tuesday, country superstar Dolly Parton opens up about a dark time in her life when she contemplated suicide.

She talked to the show's host, Jad Abumrad, over the course of 12 hours of interviews for the nine-part podcast series “Dolly Parton’s America.”

“I got overweight and I was going through the change of life, I was having a lot female problems, I’d been going through a whole lot of family things, just the stress, the heartache," she recalled. "There was just several things going on at that time," she added. “I was just broken down.”

Parton said it happened in the early 1980s. She said she was under a lot of stress and turned to her faith for guidance.

“I was having some serious conversations with God during that time,” she said. Parton said she argued with God.

“I just said things like, ‘Look this is ridiculous, I am not happy,’ (and) arguing about why when they say you shouldn’t commit suicide because that’s a sin you can’t get forgiven for,” she said. “Everything was just confusing to me and I was just angry and I was hurt, and I was unhappy and so I just said ‘You’re going to have to get me some answers or I’m getting out of here. And then we’ll both deal with it.’”

She said she didn’t know how close she got, but during one low moment, her dog hopped on her bed and it felt like a sign.

“My little dog, Popeye, at the time, he jumped up on the bed about the time I was writing my — you know,” she explained. “God is dog spelled backwards, and I always thought that might have been the very thing.”

The rest of the WNYC-produced podcast plans to explore Parton’s music, life and legacy — including the impact she had on the host, Abumrad, who is also a Tennessee native. It will also look at Parton’s influence on America as a whole. Guest stars include Jane Fonda, Gloria Steinem and Parton’s nephew/bodyguard, Bryan Seaver.

Parton is having a busy fall; she will perform her greatest hits as part of a television special on NBC titled “Dolly Parton: 50 Years at the Grand Ole Opry” on Nov. 26 from 9 to 11 p.m. ET.

She will be joined by Dierks Bentley, Emmylou Harris, Chris Janson, Toby Keith, Lady Antebellum, Margo Price, Hank Williams Jr. and others, who will celebrate her career and perform.

Aside from her NBC special, Parton is an executive producer on the Netflix anthology series "Heartstrings," premiering this November. Each of the eight episodes will feature a famed Parton song and a related story.

If you or someone you know is at risk of suicide please call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text TALK to 741741 or go to for additional resources