Demi Lovato Says She Was 'Suicidal' Even Before 'Barney'

In a Cosmopolitan cover story, singer talks about her long, trying road to becoming a 'badass.'

Demi Lovato has never been shy about her personal struggles. She documented her road to recovery from a number of physical and emotional issues, including cutting and eating disorders, during last year's MTV special "Demi Lovato: Stay Strong." And according to a new interview, they're issues that trace back all the way to her days on "Barney & Friends."

"At the time, I was just so grateful to be on TV, but I was also really struggling," she says in the August issue of Cosmopolitan. "Looking back, there was a connection — probably between any kid who's ever sang that song to Barney — a little place in a child's heart, a void, that could be filled. And maybe Barney fills it. Even before Barney, I was suicidal. I was 7. With Barney, I guess subliminally, I did have a relationship with this figure that was saving my life in a way... I've talked about being bullied and the years of being a teenager, but I went through things when I was younger that I've never talked about that probably caused me to turn out the way I ended up turning out."

Since leaving an Illinois treatment facility in January 2011, Lovato since joined the "X Factor" and dropped two albums, including May's Demi.

Last week, Lovato announced the Lovato Treatment Scholarship, launched in conjunction with CAST Recovery. It will cover treatment expenses for those struggling with mental health or addiction issues, one individual at a time. She launched it to remember her father, Patrick Lovato, who died last month. She tweeted that she attended his funeral over the weekend.

In the cover story, Lovato also criticizes the musicians who brag about excessive partying and drug abuse. "If you're spending your entire early 20s chasing the next party, what are you running away from? That's not a badass," she continued. "What's a badass is when you can sit through your problems and feel emotions when you don't want to have them. There have been nights where I've had to sit on my hands, because I want to act out, because I physically can't sit still in the pain I'm dealing with, from looking back and being bullied or other things that happened. And now, as hard as it may be, I will do that. That's what makes me a badass. Being a badass is handling your sh--."

This August, the singer/TV star will turn 21 and she knows why she'll be celebrating. She explained, "I look at birthdays as celebrating another year of life. You've made it another year. An entire year. Some people don't make it to 21."