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14.05.02

Danniella Westbrook - why I attempted suicide


The actress Danniella Westbrook has admitted she tried to kill herself with an overdose because she "despised" the cocaine habit that destroyed her nose.


The 28-year-old, who played Sam Mitchell in EastEnders for a decade, tells Radio Times that even her young son noticed her addiction because she would often shake after taking the drug.


"A lot of people never expected me to clean up - including me," she says. "I had so many rock bottoms. I tried to overdose a few times with paracetemol. It was a feeble cry for help because I despised myself. I'd look in the mirror and pretend, 'I'm not that bad. Nothing a little make-up can't hide.' But the fact is I was like a dead person walking."


In June 2000 - before the suicide attempt - Westbrook had sparked a frenzy in the tabloids when she was photographed without the membrane between her nostrils. The attention left her horrified: "In that picture there's no soul left in the eyes, no spirit. It haunts me, but it's helped a lot of people, especially schoolkids who see it and go, 'I don't want that.' I believe I was put here to spread the message."


She continued taking drugs for another ten months and then appeared on Channel 4's entertainment programme The Priory. "I said I was clean, but it was obvious I wasn't. I looked about 50, and my voice was shaky. I should never have been allowed on. They wanted to laugh at me, rip me apart. I despise that sort of thing, but it did me the world of good because watching it I realised, 'I'm so ill.' When it came to the crunch I thought, 'Hang on. I don't want to die.'


"I never worried about being on the streets because something inside me knew I wouldn't. But I truly believe if I wasn't in EastEnders I'd have lost my son Kai. Perhaps that should have happened to me. I looked after him well, but I shook when I took cocaine. Now he says, 'Mum it's great you don't shake any more.' He wants my nose done, and I've promised him it will be."



This interview is taken from the 18 - 24 May issue of Radio Times, on sale on Tuesday 14 May.




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