Dolly Parton is one of the most successful music artists ever and one of the biggest names in country music. Over her four-decade long career she’s given us countless classic songs, and continues working today.
It was always my dream to be on the Opry. I actually got to sing on the Grand Ole Opry when I was about 10 years old. I…
It’s hard to believe that her career was almost tragically cut short: Parton revealed that she once considered suicide.
But a miracle saved her life… a miracle in the form of her pet dog, who inspired her to keep going.
Like many artists, the “Jolene” singer struggled with demons even at the height of her success, a dark episode she revealed in an interview with Ladies’ Home Journal in June 1986, which was recently republished in the collection Dolly on Dolly.
The interview occurred on the cusp of a comeback for Parton, who had been largely out of the limelight as she dealt with personal issues.
This difficult period began in about 1982: Even after major hits like 9 to 5, Parton suffered from a number of health issues that left her fragile and forced her to cancel concerts.
She also says she suffered heartbreak from “a special friend, an affair of the heart.” For two years, she fell out of the public eye and spiraled into depression.
“It was bad,” she said. “It was devastating to be in that depressed state of mind. For about six months there I woke up every morning feeling dead.”
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It got so bad that one night, Parton considered suicide. She was at home, and started thinking about the gun in her nightstand. “I looked at it for a long time, wondering and saying to myself, ‘Well now, this is where people get the idea of suicide, isn’t it?'”
But as she was thinking it over, her dark thoughts were broken by a friendly face: her pet terrier, Popeye.
“Then, just as I picked it up, just to hold it and look at it for a moment… Popeye came running up the stairs,” she recalled. “The tap-tap-tap of his paws jolted me back to reality.”
“I suddenly froze. I put the gun down. Then I prayed.”
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The dog’s arrival did more than just snap her out of the dark episode. Parton also took it as a moment of divine intervention.
“I kinda believed Popeye was a spiritual messenger from God, y’know?”
Parton says she likely wouldn’t have gone through with it and had never considered herself capable of suicide, but the episode showed her depression was far worse than she realized, and gave her more perspective and sympathy for people’s struggles.
“That frightening moment with the gun was very, very humbling. I kind of think it was God’s way to bring me to my knees long enough to pray.”
Lucky for all of us, Parton survived that night, made a comeback, and continues to perform and inspire to this day.
Sometimes, you just need your dog by your side to remember that life’s worth living. Share this inspiring story!