Justin Bieber was just 13 when manager Scooter Braun plucked him from a YouTube home video and put him on a path to pop superstardom. Looking back, Braun wished he had put the future troubled star in therapy on “day one.”
“There’s a moment of sadness for how quickly it all happened,” said Braun, 39, of Bieber’s struggles with fame in the new YouTube Originals documentary special “Justin Bieber: Next Chapter,” out Friday. “There are so many tragedies that could have been avoided.”
While in quarantine this year after postponing his “Changes” album tour due to coronavirus concerns, Bieber invited cameras back into his home for a 25-minute follow-up to the docuseries “Justin Bieber: Changes” he debuted in January.
Now Bieber’s team can join together and talk about times when he acted out in public, but for a while his team seriously worried about his well-being and safety. Bieber, who has been open the past few years about his struggles with mental health, said he had times when he was “really, really suicidal.”
“I’m glad you’re alive,” Braun told the now 26-year-old Bieber, sitting alongside a handful of the singer’s longtime team members. “There were some times there where I was like, ‘OK, we got another day.’ “
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Months of quarantine have allowed Bieber some much-welcomed clarity. The singer has taken the quietness of quarantine as an opportunity to reflect on the traumas of his past, now able to speak freely and thoughtfully about the psyche of his teen self bombarded with sudden stardom.
One of his new songs, “Lonely,” is a reflection on the isolation of his teen stardom and was emotional to record. At one point the singer broke down crying in the studio, outwardly expressing how alone he had felt in the throws of fame.
Between never-before-seen footage from his wedding, Bieber reflected on how the world slowing down has given him and his wife of two years, Hailey Baldwin, the opportunity to strengthen their relationship and “iron things out.” They don’t have kids yet, but the extensively inked singer said he’s saving room on his back for tattoo portraits of his and Baldwin’s future babies.
“Quarantine forced you and I to address some things head-on,” he told Baldwin. “We’re building a life and we have something to look forward to.”
Without the ability to head out into the world and perform, Bieber feels it’s his duty to find other ways to inspire others. Putting out music is one way. Serving as a mentor to up-and-coming musicians is another. And continuing to speak out about how focusing on mental health and religion makes him feel like he has a purpose.
“So many people in quarantine lost their jobs,” Bieber said. “So many people don’t have the privilege to work. And I have these doors that have opened for me to actually work, which I feel is an honor and a privilege, so I want to do my best to use this opportunity to create things that will inspire.”
He added: “I’m in the best place in my whole life right now. I’m the most fulfilled. I feel the most stable. I feel the most secure. I feel the most confident. I feel so at peace for the first time in my life.”
If you or someone you know may be struggling with self-harm or suicidal thoughts, you can call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) any time day or night, or chat online.
Crisis Text Line also provides free, 24/7, confidential support via text message to people in crisis when they dial 741741.
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