Kanye West Shares Suicidal Thoughts, Addiction Issues in 'Jeen-Yuhs' as Loved Ones Express Concern

Part one of Jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy — filmed over two decades — is now streaming on Netflix, with the rest to be rolled out over the next few weeks 

A new documentary is pulling back the curtain on Kanye West's inner demons, offering fans an intimate look at brief but candid conversations the rapper has had about his mental health struggles.

Jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy, a three-part documentary 21 years in the making, has followed West, 44, over the years, starting with the early days and continuing into subsequent stardom.

In part three of the documentary, director Clarence "Coodie" Simmons says he first noticed a distinct change in the rapper during his 2008 Glow in the Dark tour, which came months after the death of his beloved mother Donda in 2007.

"I could tell Kanye was grieving but he kept working. He refused to stop," says Simmons, who co-directed alongside Chike Ozah. "[Four months later] he didn't seem like the same Kanye. We hardly even spoke."

As the years went on, West became a family man, marrying Kim Kardashian in 2014 and welcoming kids North, 8, Saint, 6, Chicago, 3, and Psalm, 2.

Kanye West attends Sean Combs 50th Birthday Bash presented by Ciroc Vodka on December 14, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.
Kanye West. Kevin Mazur/Getty

Still, his personal life remained in turmoil, culminating in a 2016 hospitalization for exhaustion and sleep deprivation shortly after he canceled the remaining dates of his Saint Pablo tour.

While recording in the studio with Kid Cudi the next year (the two released an album under the name Kids See Ghosts in 2018), West confessed to the "Pursuit of Happiness" rapper that he'd been dealing with suicidal thoughts and substance abuse issues.

"Even me, when I already had the house and the wife and the kids and the plaques…[I] would still have moments where I felt like, suicidal, would still have moments where I'm addicted to Percocets and don't even realize it, you know what I'm saying?" he says.

As the years went on, West's mental health continued to deteriorate, and in 2018 he confirmed that he'd been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. That same year, he drew backlash for publicly supporting then-President Donald Trump.

Kanye West, Donda West
Kanye West and Donda West. Vince Bucci/Getty

"It was difficult watching Kanye on TV knowing he had issues with his mental health," Simmons says in Jeen-yuhs. "They were calling him crazy, but to me it seemed like he was crying out for help. In the past, Kanye might have rubbed folks the wrong way, but for the first time it felt like he really lost the people."

Footage from a Jesus Is King recording session in July 2019 shows West speaking candidly about dealing with "a lot of fear and anxiety," but feeling "reborn" since turning to religion.

Another scene from July 2020, during which time West had publicly declared a run for president, shows the rapper speaking with real estate partners David Barry, Mike Novogratz and Bryan Young in the Dominican Republic.

"Have you guys ever been like, locked up in handcuffs and put into a hospital because your brain was too big for your skull?" he asks the group, eliciting uncomfortable chuckles.

Reflecting on the scene, Simmons says the "energy shifted" as the conversation went on and West continued to talk about his hospitalization and bipolar medication, telling the group, "I do not communicate in a way that people understand in public because it's just truth, and we're in a world of lies."

RELATED VIDEO: Kanye West Says He Takes 'Accountability' for Now-Deleted Instagram Posts 'Harassing' Kim Kardashian

"I had never captured this side of Kanye before and it just didn't feel right to keep filming so I cut the camera off," Simmons says, noting that he returned to New York the next day to find West "all over the news."

During this time, West traveled to Wyoming to record with Justin Bieber and Damon Dash, and additional footage shows West complaining that "y'all trying to make me look crazy" after he broke down in tears during a campaign rally while sharing his views on abortion.

At this point, Simmons says he was "concerned" about the rapper, and so, too, was West's father Ray, who called him in a conversation featured in the documentary.

"I'm just concerned about you," he tells his son, who then blames the media for his troubles.

Reflecting on the past two decades of friendship with West, Simmons says in the documentary that the rapper's difficult journey has brought about a "new awakening" with each hurdle.

"You might say you miss the old Kanye. What I'm realizing now is every part of Kanye makes him who he is," he says. "Even with everything that's changed, I still see so much of the person I first put my camera on 21 years ago. We haven't always seen eye to eye, but for me, and I hope for him, each step of his journey has been a new awakening."

Kanye West and Kim Kardashian West attend Sean Combs 50th Birthday Bash presented by Ciroc Vodka on December 14, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.
Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. Kevin Mazur/Getty

West, whose split from actress girlfriend Julia Fox was announced on Monday, has had a tumultuous week amid the film's release, and on Tuesday, said he takes "accountability" for since-deleted Instagram posts he said "came off as harassing" Kardashian.

The 22-time Grammy winner shared an influx of posts over the weekend that included screenshots of texts he'd received from both Kardashian and her new boyfriend Pete Davidson, and memes that he captioned with harassing messages.

"I know sharing screen shots was jarring and came off as harassing Kim," West wrote. "I take accountability. I'm still learning in real time. I don't have all the answers. To be [a] good leader is to be a good listener."

Two hours later, however, the rapper was back with another since-deleted post. West shared an image of a roadside billboard stating, "Stop telling fathers they should have fought harder to see their children & start asking mothers why he had to fight at all."

Jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January, and part one is now streaming on Netflix, with the rest to be rolled out over the next few weeks.

If you or someone you know needs mental health help, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

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