Suicide-bereaved mum backs Will Smith's 'passion' in Chris Rock slap

28 March 2022, 16:07

Distraught mother discusses impact of hair loss bullying on son

By James Bickerton

A heartbroken mother, who lost her son to suicide after he was bullied over his hair loss, has said she understands the “passion” behind Will Smith’s Oscars attack on Chris Rock, but doesn’t “condone hitting”.

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Will slapped the celebrated comedian after he made a joke mocking his wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith, from the Academy Awards stage on Sunday night.

In 2018 Jada revealed she had been diagnosed with alopecia areata, a condition that causes dramatic hair loss.  

In an apparent reference to the condition of her hair Chris joked: “Jada, can’t wait for GI Jane 2.” In response, Will mounted the stage and slapped Chris across the face.

Julie from Reigate phoned Shelagh Fogarty and revealed her son faced a “a very similar situation” to Jada.

Suffering from an autoimmune disorder which caused hair loss, he experienced bullying and a dramatic loss of confidence. The caller explained: “He got picked on at school and he developed depression, PTSD, anxiety.  

READ MORE: Will Smith boasted of causing 'chaos' before Oscars as calls grow for him to lose award

Education Secretary tells Will Smith "violence is never the answer"

"He felt complete shame about it. He felt it was his fault and it wasn’t.  

“He ended up going to university, two years ago he ended his life. He was so traumatised by what he’d gone through in the past. He felt such shame, just unworthy, and he ended his life.” 

Julie praised Jada for her openness in talking about her alopecia, and paid an emotive tribute to her son.  

She commented: “Jada had been open about her hair loss, which I think’s amazing. My son was completely buttoned up about it and wouldn’t speak to a soul.  

“He wanted to go to uni, he was studying physio, he was the kindest gentlest soul. He just didn’t have the armour for this world.”

For help call the Samaritans on 116 123 or visit

READ MORE: Moment Denzel Washington and Bradley Cooper calm Will Smith after he slapped Chris Rock

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