Photo Credit: Mike/FAMEFLYNET
In the aftermath of Paris Jackson's suicide attempt, the media spotlight is now rigidly focused on the 15-year-old and the famously dysfunctional family that surrounds her.
Why did Paris write a suicide note, slash her wrist with a kitchen knife, swallow 20 Motrin and call a suicide hotline early Wednesday morning? Theories abound. Some sources say that her grandmother, Katherine Jackson, hasn't been an adequate mother figure to the teen, who's battled depression over the death of her father, Michael Jackson. "Paris loves her grandmother but feels that Katherine can't provide for her emotional needs," a source told People.
Of course, the Jackson clan is notorious for its infighting. At various points, Michael kept all family members at arms length (except for his mother, Katherine). When he died, the children were thrown right into the midst of the Jackson drama. Katherine's mysterious disappearance last summer, which had to do with a family squabble, is a recent example. She's also embroiled in a wrongful death lawsuit against Conrad Murray, Michael's doctor.
Recently, Paris has reached out to her biological mother, Debbie Rowe (who was married to Michael from 1996–1999), and rumor has it their new relationship has angered Paris's older brother, Prince Michael, 16. "[Paris and Prince] were always so insanely close until Debbie came back in the picture and Paris wanted to get close with her," a source told Us Weekly. "Paris wanted her mom in her life, but Paris was younger and Prince remembers all of the awful things Michael told them about Debbie. Prince feels Paris is betraying their father by getting close to Debbie." All this, insiders say, has fueled her ongoing depression.
On Thursday night, Rowe herself joined the public chorus of hysteria surrounding Paris' actions. Perhaps her word choice arose from a mama bear instinct to protect her offspring. Sadly, her Facebook rant was too angry to be constructive. “For those of you that sit like vultures in preparation to continue to attack my children anyway, you can go to hell for they are already more than you will EVER hope to be,” she said. She called to task “everyone else that is posing as me or my daughter." “Shame on you," she scolded, "you are pathetic.”
Adding to the sense of surreality of Paris' life, Marilyn Manson sent her well wishes through TMZ. (He'd heard that she was sent over the edge after being told she couldn't attend his show on Tuesday.)
For most teens, a shout-out from Marilyn Manson would be incredibly momentous. But Paris' life is shaped, first and foremost, by her father's legacy. And that, finally, may be the real heart of the problem.
"What's hard is that she has now realized that her upbringing is not like other people's," a source told E! News. "It has just magnified that she is different and has been living in a dysfunctional world that is different from other people her age."
All the while, she's facing the growing pains universal to all teens -- without the social tools to deal with them. Within a few months of Michael's death, when Paris was 12, the children went from being homeschooled to attending an elite private school full of rich kids. She didn't transition easily.
"She is alternative," the source told E! News. "She doesn't hang out with the popular kids," and she "is in a different group to the mainstream students. ... Her school "is very academic and conservative, and that isn't really Paris' thing."
As for her brother, “he’s had an easier time finding his bearings in school and in the family overall," a source told the Daily Beast. "That’s made Paris feel even more lonely.”
Anyone who's navigated high school hallways knows that this season of life can be a living hell. Add to it the extra pressure of losing a beloved parent, dealing with an unstable family, and keeping one step ahead of the paparazzi, and it's easy to understand why she was looking for an escape. We just hope she has the support system to bring her back, happy and healthy.
Jennifer Graham Kizer is an Atlanta-based writer who covers pop culture and watches too much TV. Luckily, iVillage gives her an excuse to watch even more. Follow her on Google+.