New York mayor-elect's teen daughter shares struggles in video

Tue Dec 24, 2013 2:49pm EST
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NEW YORK (Reuters) - The teenage daughter of New York City's next mayor, Bill de Blasio, released a video on Tuesday in which she discusses her battle with depression and substance abuse while directing viewers to a website where they can get help.

The nearly 5-minute video was released by the mayor-elect's transition team on Christmas Eve, days before de Blasio takes office on January 1.

"Getting sober is always a positive thing," said Chiara de Blasio, 19, who was a regular presence in her father's mayoral campaign this fall. "We really can't do anything as a society to help those people until we start talking about it. And nobody can do sobriety on their own."

De Blasio's wife, Chirlane McCray, and their children have played a prominent role in his political career.

An ad this summer featuring his bi-racial son, Dante, became one of the most talked-about ads of the campaign and helped boost de Blasio's popularity among minority voters concerned about controversial police tactics.

De Blasio took on a difficult personal matter during the campaign, agreeing to one in-depth interview about his father's alcoholism and eventual suicide to pre-empt a newspaper article on the subject, which was published soon after.

His father, Warren Wilhelm, was 61 and sick with late-stage cancer when he shot himself in a Connecticut hotel in 1979. De Blasio was 18 and had just finished high school at the time.

Chiara's "courage to speak out demonstrates a wisdom and maturity far beyond her 19 years, and we are grateful every day for her commitment to lifting up those who need to know that they are not alone," de Blasio and McCray said in a statement accompanying their daughter's video, here

In her video, Chiara talks about fighting clinical depression and anxiety throughout her adolescence and using alcohol and marijuana as a way to cope. She eventually completed an out-patient treatment program.

"Removing substance from my life, it's opened so many doors for me. Like, I was actually able to participate in my dad's campaign, and that was like the greatest thing ever," she said.

(Reporting By Edith Honan; editing by Gunna Dickson)

Chiara de Blasio, daughter of Democratic New York City mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio hides in the bushes of her family home waiting to surprise her father in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn in New York, in this file photo from November 5, 2013. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid