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Barbara Bush Came Close to Killing Herself

The former first lady talked to biographer Susan Page about her struggles
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 31, 2019 11:50 AM CDT
This April 18, 2009, file photo shows former first lady Barbara Bush at a Major League Baseball game in Houston.   (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)

(Newser) – Barbara Bush's depression ran so deep, she considered driving into a tree or an oncoming car. That's when she would pull over. "I felt terrible," she told Susan Page for The Matriarch, a new biography coming out Tuesday. "...I mean, I felt really depressed. I really wasn’t brave enough to do that, but that’s why I pulled over." Bush's depression is only one aspect Paige highlights in an effort to deepen our view of the former first lady, who died at 92 last spring, People reports. "Barbara Bush was the public figure Americans felt they knew most but really understood least," writes Paige. The "down-to-earth grandmother who sported a triple strand of faux pearls and joked about her wrinkles" was part of it, she adds, but "decidedly incomplete."

The Matriarch also touches on Barbara's intense dislike for President Trump and allegations that her husband, President Bush, had an affair with an aide. According to a Page source, the aide "had begun what was at least a flirtatious relationship" with Bush that included "whispered conversations" and "giggly" phone chats. But Barbara's depression appears the deeper struggle. It happened in the late '70s after she and Bush returned from his China ambassadorship so he could lead the CIA. Barbara blamed the secrecy of the job, menopause, children leaving the home, as well as the women's movement, which "at that time—it isn't so true anymore—sort of made women who stayed at home feel inadequate," she told NPR in 1994. Anyone considering suicide is urged to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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