American Idol's ex-host Brian Dunkleman reveals he contemplated suicide after he QUIT just before show became a hit

BRIAN Dunkleman has revealed that he considered suicide after quitting American Idol – right before it became a hit show.

The comedian co-hosted the first installment of the series with current frontrunner Ryan Seacrest.

But after leaving the show to pursue his acting career, Brian, now 50, said he suffered mentally and emotionally.

The TV personality told TMZ that he was "suicide adjacent" after leaving the program that blew up shortly after.

But in the time since, the actor explained to the outlet that he's discovered his "fears and depression were unnecessary" and that he's "finally in a great place."

After leaving the show in 2002, Brian found himself without any show contracts despite his desire to launch an acting career.

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As a result, he began abusing drugs and alcohol to deal with his growing depression.

The reality star said the decision to leave American Idol "haunted" him for years, as the program became wildly popular with Ryan Seacrest at the forefront.

"I was crippled with depression, I thought I made the biggest mistake that anybody's ever made in history.

"I couldn't get out of bed. I like to say I wasn't really suicidal but I was suicidal adjacent," he explained.

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Brian continued: "I was drinking and doing drugs and doing everything I could to get out of my own head."

But after returning to Idol in 2016 to co-host the series finale, one of his old bosses revealed that they had planned to drop him for season 2 regardless.


The TV star shared that this lifted a "huge weight" off of his shoulders.

Brian has since quit abusing substances and began doing stand-up comedy and improv.

The Idol alum also has a new documentary on Amazon Prime called Dunkleman, which he has credited with helping him "heal from past traumas."

"I finally closed the chapter on the healing that I needed to do and letting go of the resentment and anger.

"This film has finally set me free," he shared.

The Celebrity Fit Club star shared that his issues span way earlier than the competition show, and his new doc has assisted in his recovery.


Brian left a positive message for fans, saying: "The thing I hope that people take away from this movie is: everybody goes through something.

"Everybody has something in their past they wish they could redo and everybody has dark times.

"And my times got pretty dark but I hope people just hang in there cause I'm really glad I did not kill myself cause this is the happiest I've ever been in my life, right now," he closed.


Brian has previously opened up about his time on American Idol, and more specifically his relationship with Ryan Seacrest.

In an exclusive obtained by The Sun in November of 2021, he revealed that the pair nearly got into a fistfight after the star “tried to screw him up on live TV."

During an in-depth chat with Behind The Velvet Rope podcast host David Yontef, which was exclusively obtained by The Sun, Brian opened up about his experience alongside Ryan, 46.

The comic emphasized how much tension the duo had, which he alleged during one show taping escalated so much it nearly became violent. 

Brian claimed: ”At one point, I just looked at [Ryan] and he said, ‘say something Dunk.’ And I said, ‘what do you want me to say, Ryan?’ 

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“He said ‘how about we'll be right back with more American Idol. Cut. Are you going to say one f**king thing that’s on the teleprompter tonight?’ 

“When that show ended, my manager and my best friend who was there to pick me up… they had to hold me back from going after him.” 

If you or someone you know is affected by any of the issues raised in this story, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or text Crisis Text Line at 741741.

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