Granger Smith Recalls Hitting Rock Bottom, Considering Suicide After The Loss Of His Son River: “I Just Wanted To End It All”

Granger Smith country music
Anthony Lay

Opening up…

Granger Smith has always been very candid in the public eye about his struggles following the death of his young son, River, and why he more recently chose to step back from country music. Him and his wife Amber have detailed much of their journey these past few years, shining a light on how they’ve been able to carry on in the midst of extreme grief.

Back in April, the artist announced that he had been wrestling with the idea of stepping away and was finally taking the leap to pursue his dream of ministry.

“This message is so difficult to post. The words for this caption are so hard to find. Not because I don’t believe in the truth of them, but because this marks the end of the longest era in my life! Touring…24 years of it.

This summer will be my last tour. I am so encouraged and hopeful and excited and joyful about the next chapter, but to a large extent, I have no idea what it will look like. I just want to glorify God the best way that I can.

I want to learn and grow and serve my local church and allow my pastors to equip and affirm those next steps. Lord willing, I want to be used to help people find their purpose.”

More recently, Smith opened up in an interview with Entertainment Tonight about the rock bottom experience he had before looking to religion to help him.

In June of 2019, Smith and his wife, Amber Barlett, tragically lost their youngest son.

In a time of extreme grief, Granger Smith confesses that he coped with the loss of River by self-medicating with alcohol and weed.

“I would wake up in the middle of the night many times and I would wake up and go, ‘I lost my son,’ and then I couldn’t go back to sleep. It was every night, so I would take weed in some form so that hopefully I would sleep all night and it worked.

It felt good and so then, I thought, well, I might as well go and have in the morning, too, in case something happens at breakfast and then I might as well make sure around lunch time… And then I thought if I don’t have it I’m in trouble and the slideshow’s gonna overtake me.”

The “slideshow” he is referring to is the painful memories of his son’s final moments that would continually flash in his mind… a daily, waking nightmare that he couldn’t escape.

I cannot begin to imagine…

The grief consumed the country music star while he was on tour, and one night in the back of his bus in Boise, Idaho, Smith was intoxicated with a gun in his hand… and considering ending his own life:

“I just wanted to end it all, when the weed wasn’t working anymore and the alcohol couldn’t numb it…”

Smith recalls at that moment thinking of his other two children, Lincoln and London, and knowing that he had to survive this grief in order for them.  He envisioned their faces and cried out to the Almighty:

“I slid the gun out of my hand and it hit the bank and I fell down on the floor and I was crying and I was horrified at my shame and my guilt and the weakness I was and the lack of strength that I had and the weak man I that I was.

It all hit me at once, and that was the beginning.”

Since that moment, Granger has turned to his faith not only during times of struggle but fully. While he struggled with the choice to step back from music, he felt as if that moment saved him, and he needed to focus solely on the message he has to give.

Now a published author, Like A River addresses the struggles that come with loss and encourage others to find strength in continuing to live a full life. Hearing the feedback he has gotten from his words continues to give Granger Smith healing power.

Granger is beyond brave for sharing his story to the world, and his message, I am sure, has helped others going through similar experiences. While country music will miss him, you can’t help but cheer for someone following their calling.

Much respect for you, Granger Smith.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock