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January 31, 2015

What Black History Month Should Be

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5 Dr. Jeff Teachable Moments From Fantasia's Affair and Suicide Attempt

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Two weeks after being hospitalized for overdosing on aspirin and a sleep aid, singer and 'American Idol' winner Fantasia Barrino revealed in a VH1 'Behind the Music' interview on Tuesday night that she knew exactly what she was doing and wanted to die. All of this comes on the heels of an embarrassing divorce case brought by Paula Cook against her husband Antwaun.

As we all know by now, he and Fantasia had been having a very torrid and public affair. There are even rumors that they made a sex tape together. What were they thinking? Once this divorce case is over, it will open the doors to Paula suing Fantasia for adultery and a substantial amount of money, reportedly in the millions. This will be especially tough on Fantasia since she had already lost her first fortune due to a dysfunctional family life and bad business decisions and was in the process of rebuilding both financially and emotionally.

In her own defense, Fantasia has said that even though she knew Cook was married, he told her that he was separated, was not physically living at home and wanted out of his marriage.

When asked what made her want to take her life, Fantasia responded, "I was tired of people doing me wrong, constantly, over and over again, dealing with my family – my father -- dealing with men and their [expletive]. I was tired. My head was hurting me. I was over it."

Though this drama is far from over for all parties involved, in the spirit of the President Obama's teachable moments, below are five Dr. Jeff teachable moments on love, marriage, cheating and mental health:

1. Proceed with caution and don't ever think you are home free when a person tells you that they are separated and on their way to a divorce, especially if they have children. Quite often people lie about being separated so they can creep. The fact of the matter is that even if they are legitimately separated, they are still working out their issues. And even if they are through with one another, they must still maintain a relationship for the sake of the children. If you are not careful, especially in the early stages of their separation, you may become nothing more than the rebound clown.

2. Research and be cognizant of the laws of adultery concerning your state.
For example, Georgia is one of seven states that still allows the parties involved in an extramarital affair to be sued monetarily by the partner who has been cheated on. That's why if Paula Cook sues Fantasia, she stands to take her to the cleaners for her whole fortune. Oh, the good ole South!

3. Don't tattoo your lover's name on your body if he is still married. Yes, Fantasia has Cook tattooed above her left breast, under her shoulder. Now I am sure she is not referring to her kitchen skills! C'mon, folks. I can understand tattoos of your kids' names, or a deity. Bu the name of your married lover!? The same can be said for taking pictures together, texting, sexting and making sex tapes. This is not just reckless, but stupid. Also refer back to teachable moment No. 2....evidence.

4. Don't ever bad-mouth your lover's spouse, don't engage or taunt that spouse in conversation, and for heaven's sake don't meddle in their conflicts. Stand to the side and let them work it out or duke it out. Don't take sides, no matter what your lover tells you. Don't ever forget there are two sides to every story. Besides, it's none of your damn business!!!!! Allegedly, during a phone conversation between Cook and his wife, Fantasia grabbed the phone and crowed: "He don't want you. ... Maybe the next time that you get a husband, you'll know how to keep him. ... That's why he is here with me." Payback is a beeatch. Now Fantasia is eating "crow" and her goose is "cooked."

5. On a very serious note, be aware of the signs of a loved one being depressed and potentially suicidal, either as a result of a love affair gone south or just from the plain old difficulties of life. Luckily, Fantasia had texted her manager Brian Dickens several very depressing messages that he found very disturbing and dispatched himself to her home, where he found her falling in and out of consciousness after taking the pills. The following are some red flags indicating that your loved one may be experiencing suicidal thinking:

· Saying they are tired of, or not seeing the use in, living

· Telling you directly they want to die or have a plan for suicide

· Leaving or sending notes expressing their regrets, being sorry and or not having a desire to see tomorrow or the future

· Giving away personal or prized possessions

· A fascination with someone else's suicide

· Constant sadness, lack of energy or too much energy, crying or being angry

· Depression, other mental health issues or previous suicide attempts or gestures (faking or a half-hearted attempt). By the way, suicide gestures are just as serious as legitimate attempts; both can lead to serious injury or accidental death!

Bottom line: If you suspect that someone is suicidal, get them to an emergency room as soon as possible and do not leave them alone until they get professional help.

Finally, as for Fantasia (we should really wish her the best in her emotional recovery) and the rest of the folks who get involved with someone who is separated or going through a divorce, even with the best and most honorable of intentions, these situations are complex. In the words of the Commodores, "Love gets slippery when it's wet." Therefore be aware that you can end up a winner or just as quickly a loser because you really are stepping into someone else's constantly evolving mess.

About Dr. Jeff
Dr. Jeff Gardere
, better known as "America's Psychologist," is one of the most sought-after experts in the field of mental health. In addition to having a private practice in New York City, he has garnered a reputation as being a top motivational and keynote speaker, empowerment and media coach. He is a regular featured contributor to BlackVoices.com.

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