My Big Fat Fabulous Life’s Whitney Way Thore Was 'Traumatized' and 'Almost Suicidal' After Being Bullied Online (Exclusive)

Whitney Way Thore nearly reached her breaking point due to the online bullying and harassment she’s received from critics of My Big Fat Fabulous Life

Published Time: 02.07.2024 - 22:31:13 Modified Time: 02.07.2024 - 22:31:13

Whitney Way Thore nearly reached her breaking point due to the online bullying and harassment she’s received from critics of My Big Fat Fabulous Life.

Ahead of the season 12 premiere, the 40-year-old opened up to PEOPLE about struggling with suicidal ideation a few months ago after receiving a lot of hate, which even escalated to death threats. 

As someone in the public eye, she’s unfortunately no stranger to scrutiny over the years. But things worsened after she lost her mother Barbara "Babs" Thore, who died on December 7, 2022, of cerebral amyloid angiopathy, which was partially documented on the show.

“Since she died, the amount of hate that I got has exceeded anything I've ever experienced in my career. I was almost suicidal,” Thore reveals, adding that she became more affected by strangers' comments after her mom's death.

“When people tell you that your mother hated you or something about my mom rolling over in her grave…even though I know it's not true, that is the most horrific, horrible thing,” she tells PEOPLE before starting to cry. “I'm not used to that. I'll never be. It's shocking to me that people are that awful.”

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And online hate is not the only type of harassment faced by Thore. In season 12, someone trespasses onto her property, throws eggs at her house and leaves hate mail on her doorstep in the middle of the night.

“It's terrifying,” she admits. “Nobody should ever just accept or know that strangers are going to come to your house. It always makes me insanely uncomfortable. I hate it. I don't know how to fix it.” 

“I've been traumatized by being in the public eye,” she continues. “It's scary. It’s disheartening. And I think that someone with less support than I do may not make it out. When I say that I was almost suicidal, I mean that 100%. I think I'm a pretty strong person and that just shows you how much words really impact people.” 

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Thore has been filming MBFFL for nearly 10 years, and she remembers early on being warned that the reality show “could ruin my life.” However, she kept going and now, she says, “The damage is done.”

“I'm a public person. I'm on reality TV. I don't have any control over what people think about me, how they perceive me, how I'm presented. That's not in my control. And that's something that I just gave up a long time ago.”

“Even through all the horrible things that I feel, even when I was almost suicidal a few months ago, I still wouldn't take it back,” she says of doing the show. “There's been too much good. To know that people have felt happiness and been healed and had someone to relate to, I could never justify saying I wish it had never happened.”

To protect her mental health, Thore says she’s limiting her social media use — despite wanting to connect with fans.

Instead, the star tries to “stay grounded” in her real life, sharing that she has a lot of support from those who love her, including her father Glenn Thore,  brother Hunter and close friends.

“I'm generally doing a lot better, but it just doesn't go away,” she explains. “I just don't think it's ever the kind of thing that I'll be able to get used to. And I don't think we should, honestly.”

“It still makes me very emotional,” Thore tells PEOPLE, adding that she feels like she’s been “in crisis” since turning 40 in April. “But I'm feeling good. It's good to remember — I don't always though. I'm very thankful.” 

My Big Fat Fabulous Life premieres on Tuesday, July 9, at 9 pm ET/PT on TLC and will be available on discovery+ the same day.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741741 or go to 988lifeline.org.

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