Lewinsky was a 22-year-old White House intern when her sexual relationship began with Clinton, then age 49, in November 1995. News of the affair broke in January 1998, sparking an onslaught of media attention and federal investigations.
“There was a point for me ... where I would be hysterically crying and then I would just shut down,” Lewinsky says in a clip of A&E’s “The Clinton Affair” released Tuesday. “And in the shutdown period, I remember looking out the window and thinking that the only way to fix this was to kill myself, was to jump out the window.”
“I just ― I felt terrible. I was scared,” she said, breaking down in tears. “And I was mortified and afraid of what this was going to do to my family. I still was in love with Bill at the time so I felt really responsible.”
Lewinsky first publicly disclosed that she had considered suicide in an essay she penned for Vanity Fair in June 2014, writing that “the shame, the scorn, and the fear” put her in a dark place.
“I have never actually attempted suicide, but I had strong suicidal temptations several times during the investigations and during one or two periods after,” she wrote.
Though Lewinsky has said the relationship was consensual, she wrote in March that she was beginning to reconsider that notion based on power imbalances and “the ability to abuse them.”
In a new Vanity Fair essay published Tuesday, Lewinsky bashed Clinton for stating earlier this year that he did not feel he owed his former lover a personal apology.
“What feels more important to me than whether I am owed or deserving of a personal apology is my belief that Bill Clinton should want to apologize,” Lewinsky wrote. “I’m less disappointed by him, and more disappointed for him. He would be a better man for it ... and we, in turn, a better society.”
Though she has remained largely silent about the affair in recent years, Lewinsky explained why she decided to participate in A&E’s docuseries.
“One main reason: because I could,” she wrote. “Throughout history, women have been traduced and silenced. Now, it’s our time to tell our own stories in our own words.”
“The Clinton Affair” premieres on A&E at 9 p.m. on Nov. 18.
If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also text HOME to 741-741 for free, 24-hour support from the Crisis Text Line. Outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of resources.