Watch: Jada Smith cries with mother whose daughter died by suicide after being bullied for alopecia
Jada Pinkett Smith sat down with a grieving mother whose daughter died by suicide after she was bullied for having alopecia.
In a clip from Wednesday's episode of Red Table Talk, the actor, 50, meets with Niki Ball, who details the abuse her 12-year-old daughter Rio faced at school for the condition she developed during the pandemic.
Alopecia – the same condition Jada Pinkett Smith has – is the general medical term for hair loss.
Alopecia Areata, of which there are different types, is thought to be an autoimmune condition, which often starts with isolated patches of hair loss, commonly in one or more patches on the scalp and/or across the body including the beard, eyebrows, eyelashes or body hair, according to Alopecia UK.
Describing her daughter's hair loss battle, Ball said, "She was so strong. She just rocked it, even when it was still falling out, and she just had these big bald patches.
"[She] tried the creams, they made her break out. Tried the injections – she took five of them in one day. But neither of them really did anything.
"And she was just like, 'I don't want to do that anymore, can we just shave my head, and so we did, and she just glowed.
"And then with school coming up, we got her that super-cute wig, she loved it, and she glowed then."
Ball also has a seven-year-old daughter, who shared a room with Rio.
"But at school, within a few weeks, she was like, 'I don't want to wear it anymore, there's no point,' explains Ball.
"She had it ripped off her head. She'd get smacked on the head walking down the hallway. And that was within the first two weeks, three weeks. It got really bad for her."
When Pinkett Smith asked what kind of things the kids would say to her, Ball responded, "She was called a naked mole rat. She was called a bug-eyed alien. She was called Mr and Mrs Clean.
Read more: Jada Pinkett Smith reveals alopecia battle
Rio sadly died by suicide on 14 March 2022, which Ball said "was the worst day of my life".
As Ball described what that morning was like for her in tears, Pinkett Smith and her mother Adrienne Banfield-Norris and daughter Willow Smith, co-hosts of the show, also struggled to hold back the tears.
"She was so so smart. She was just brilliant," Ball added. "And she was funny. She was a great big sister. She loved reading and writing and sketching. She loved being in the band."
As the women shared the intimate but heartbreaking moment, Pinkett Smith told Ball that Rio's story is one of the reasons why people "need an understanding around the devastation of this condition".
This comes after Pinkett Smith's alopecia was brought into the limelight, after Will Smith slapped Chris Rock at the Oscar's for his joke made in reference to her shaven hair.
Since then, many other celebrities and members of the public have come forward to talk about the condition and how it affects their lives, including Good Morning Britain presenter Ranvir Singh.
You can learn more about alopecia via the Alopecia UK website, contact them on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0800 101 7025 for one-on-one peer support and advice.
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