On Oct. 2, President Donald Trump announced that both he and First Lady Melania Trump tested positive for COVID-19. In light of that news, Billy Ray Cyrus sent well wishes to the first lady as she battles the illness. But, the country singer later deleted the message. In a subsequent series of tweets, he explained that he was sending some kind words to Melania because they previously shared a very emotional moment when he met her to discuss suicide prevention. He also noted that his message about Melania did not serve as a political endorsement of any kind.
On Thursday, Cyrus posted a photo of himself and the first lady to wish her well as she battles the coronavirus, as Fox News noted. The two previously met in 2019 to discuss suicide prevention. He captioned the photo with, "Hope you are feeling better @FLOTUS. This photo was almost exactly a year ago. Thank you again for the compassion and time you shared with Channing's Dad and his bother. [sic]" Cyrus ended his message by including a couple of hashtags related to their previous meeting, as he wrote, "#BeBest" and #SuicidePrevention." The tweet has since been deleted.
Cyrus and Melania reportedly sat down with the family of Channing Smith as a part of the first lady's Be Best anti-bullying campaign. Smith died by suicide at the age of 16 in September 2019 after intimate messages between himself and another male classmate were leaked. Cyrus reportedly performed at Smith's memorial service. Back when Cyrus and Melania did meet about the issue, the country singer posted about the meeting on Twitter and praised her work on anti-bullying in the process. He wrote, "What an honor to sit w/The First Lady at the White House. @FLOTUS Your sincerity was truly inspiring. You/your team were so engaged to Channing's grieving father & brother & brought ideas/strategy to make the world a safer better place for the youth in America."
As for why Cyrus deleted his recent message wishing Melania well, he wrote on Twitter that the photo that he posted with her was "not an endorsement, but a reflection on a special moment I had human to human with her over a heartbreaking story about a young teenage boy who killed himself after being bullied. The first lady met with me and his grieving father to talk about how we can help fix this problem. We were only expecting a few minutes of her time, but she ended up speaking with us for over an hour." He continued to write that she asked him why this issue was so important to him, to which Cyrus replied that he lost his best friend to suicide at the age of 18. The singer noted that he brought his late friend's photo to the meeting and that the first lady held the picture in her lap during the duration of it.
In his Twitter thread, Cyrus continued to note that his photo with Melania was not a political endorsement. He has been in touch with a number of both Republican and Democrat presidents over the years. "I felt the need to explain my background and make it clear; I am not endorsing anybody," his thread concluded. "I am listening, watching and you best believe voting... and I hope you are too."