Nick Carter wishes he had been a better role model to his late sister Leslie Carter. In an emotional sit-down interview with Dr. Phil McGraw, the 33-year-old Backstreet Boys singer says he's still struggling to cope with his sister's Feb. 1, 2012 death from a drug overdose at the age of 25.
"It was the most horrific news I've ever heard," he told Dr. Phil. "Still, to this day, I kind of don't believe that it happened."
Carter himself has a history of drug and alcohol abuse, but told Dr. Phil he changed his life around in 2008 when he found out he had drug-induced heart problems. (His new book, Facing the Music and Living to Talk About It, details his addiction struggles and problems with his family.)
Though he was devastated by the loss, Carter chose not to attend his sister's funeral last February. "The reason I did not go was because I actually got the phone call from my father [Robert Gene Carter] that she had passed. Immediately the conversation turned into not about her death and not about the actual passing and what had occurred, but more about themselves," he explained to Dr. Phil. "And then I started to get blamed by the rest of the family -- I have a large family and they all went there -- and they were blaming me for the death."
"The message from them was that if you had been there for her, she would be alive today. How did it feel to hear them say that to you?" the host asked. "Did you believe it at that time, and how did it feel?"
"I felt it was unfair. Especially with all the things I have done -- and still to this day continue to do -- for them," Carter said. "I love, love my family like everyone loves their family. But then there comes a point where you have to ask yourself, 'Are you helping them or hurting them?'" (The boy band star is the oldest of Jane Elizabeth and Robert Gene Carter's five children: B.J., 31, Leslie and twins Aaron and Angel, 25. Jane and Robert divorced in 2003, and Robert has son Kaden, 8, with new wife Ginger Elrod. He also has daughter Virgina, 41, from a previous marriage.)
But the "I Want It That Way" singer also added, "There's definitely a part of me that did blame myself. Because of the responsibility that I sort of took on as the oldest member of my family, [and] probably should not have been taken on."