Regina King Opens Up About Son’s Death: “He Didn’t Want to Be Here”

Regina King is opening up about the death of her son Ian Alexander Jr. by suicide more than two years ago.

Speaking with Good Morning America‘s Robin Roberts in an interview that aired on Thursday, King opened up about both Alexander Jr.’s “choice” to die and the “journey” she’s experienced as she grieves her only child.

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“When it comes to depression, people expect it to look a certain way and they expect it to look heavy,” King said of Alexander Jr.’s struggles in her first extensive comments since he died. “To have to experience this and not be able to have the time to just sit with Ian’s choice, which I respect and understand, that he didn’t want to be here anymore. That’s a hard thing for other people to receive because they did not live our experience, did not live Ian’s journey.”

“I was so angry with God,” she said. “Why would that weight be given to Ian? Of all of the things that we had gone through with the therapy, with psychiatrists and programs — and Ian was like, ‘I’m tired of talking, Mom.’”

Two years after Alexander Jr.’s death, King is still grieving.

“I’m a different person now than I was on Jan. 19 [before Alexander Jr. died],” she said. “Grief is a journey. I understand that grief is love that has no place to go. I know that it’s important to me to honor Ian in the totality of who he is, speak about him in the present, because he is always with me and the joy and happiness that he gave all of us.”

She added, “My favorite thing about myself is being Ian’s mom. And I can’t say that with a smile, with tears, with all of the emotion that comes with that. I can’t do that if I did not respect the journey.”

King, who fought back tears during the talk, said, “Sometimes, a lot of guilt comes over me. When a parent loses a child, you still wonder, ‘What could I have done so that wouldn’t have happened?’ I know that I share this grief with everyone, but no one else is Ian’s mom, you know? Only me. So it’s mine. And the sadness will never go away. It’ll always be with me. And I think I saw somewhere, the sadness is a reminder of how much he means to me, you know?”

King paid tribute to Alexander Jr. on what would have been his 27th birthday last year.

“January 19th is Ian’s Worthday. As we still process his physical absence, we celebrate his presence,” King wrote in an Instagram post at the time. “We are all in different places on the planet…so is Ian. His spirit is the thread that connects us.”

Roberts also revealed King’s subtle tribute to Alexander Jr. during the 2024 Oscars, where she wore an orange dress — Alexander Jr.’s favorite color. And she noted that King said she still felt her son’s presence in moments of “Ian-spirations.”

King can next be seen as trailblazing congresswoman Shirley Chisholm in the Netflix biopic Shirley, hitting the streamer on March 22, which is dedicated to Alexander Jr.

Roberts said King had told her she was ready to talk about her son’s death and only wanted to do one interview to address it as she’s promoting Shirley.

“I want to talk about my son,” Roberts recalled King telling her at the Oscars. “I don’t want to make him a poster child for what’s going on. I want to talk about it once and then — “

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