Mia St. John was still trying to make sense of her son's suicide five years ago, when her ex-husband and best friend, “Young and the Restless” actor Kristoff St. John, was found dead last month in his home. His cause of death has yet to be determined.
"When Kristoff passed, it all just came down on me and hit me like a ton of bricks," said the professional boxer. "My family had to hospitalize me on 5150, which is when you’re placed against your will.”
St. John, who was 52, was found dead in his San Fernando Valley, Calif., home by one of his friends who went to check on him. The former couple’s child, Julian St. John, had taken his life in 2014 at age 24 after a long battle with mental illness.
Mia St. John, 51, told Fox News she was admitted to a psychiatric facility shortly after the death of the soap opera star. Her relatives feared for her life.
St. John admitted that at the time, she couldn’t understand why she was hospitalized by her own family while she mourned Kristoff’s sudden death. The pair married in 1991 and divorced in 1995, but have remained incredibly close. They also share a daughter named Paris.
“I was just hysterical,” said St. John. “I was to the point where [my family] felt I was at risk of dying myself or taking my life. I wouldn’t have and I wasn’t but I can understand their fear. They took precaution, which is what you’re supposed to do. And I encourage people to do that. Never take a chance. If you think someone is suicidal, do something.”
It was previously reported that Julian, an artist, was diagnosed with schizophrenia at age 18. After his death, St. John said she and Kristoff grieved in different ways.
“At first I thought I was the one who took it the worst,” she reflected. “I’m the mother, I gave birth to this child. I did feel suicidal for a long time. And the depression was like being in a dark hole that I could not get out of. I didn’t realize how badly Kristoff was suffering. For Kristoff, he had this very machismo role to play. He was always the man of the family. He couldn’t show his emotions as I could. … I knew he was suffering, but I never thought it was as bad as mine. … He suffered silently.”
St. John claimed Kristoff was worried his deep depression would be scrutinized by the press, putting his high profile career in jeopardy. In 2017, Kristoff underwent psychiatric treatment after a reported scare concerning his mental well-being. At the time, TMZ reported he allegedly threatened to kill himself with a gun and was placed under a 72-hour hold for psychiatric evaluation.
“They let him out too soon,” said St. John. “He was suicidal and depressed when police came. He had a gun to his head. Then it was all over the media. He felt so embarrassed and ashamed of himself, which was heartbreaking. This was his call for help. And he just felt shamed by the media. … He was always worried about [his depression] being publicized. And that’s exactly why he refused to stay in the hospital for any length of time. He was very depressed, but he didn’t want anyone finding out about it.”
St. John described the final months of Kristoff’s life as “tragic” as he struggled to cope with the death of his only son. And the agony he endured behind closed doors consumed him as he tried to put on a brave face in front of the public.
“He was very depressed and drinking a lot,” said St. John. “He could not cope with the guilt that he had of our son’s death. He felt very responsible because our son had schizophrenia and Kristoff was bipolar. … I know he tried desperately to understand mental illness for our son’s sake but he was very frustrated. … I saw the signs in my son so I was better equipped for it. Kristoff didn’t know much about it, which is why he didn’t handle his son’s illness very well. So he blamed himself for his death. Of course, we told him every day it was not his fault. But he just couldn’t live with it.”
St. John described Kristoff as “an amazing father” and “lovable” to Julian, also as the disciplinarian of the family, while she “really coddled” her child who was her firstborn.
“Kristoff was at times very hard on Julian,” claimed St. John. “He wanted him to grow up, be a man and be tough. I was more like… he’s a mama’s boy. And I think that was one of the things he felt very guilty over. He felt like he was too hard on him. But it’s hard. We’re not given a manual when our kids are born like this is the right way to raise them. We just don’t know. It’s trial and error.”
St. John said that since Kristoff’s death she “lost” her 30 years of sobriety because she just couldn’t cope with the horrifying tragedies. Still, she came forward with her story in hopes it will inspire others to speak up and seek help.
“I stayed sober after my son passed,” she explained. “I don’t know how I did that, but I did it. But when I lost Kristoff, it just became too much. I did end up losing my sobriety. And the reason why I came out with that is because I felt so embarrassed… I wanted to come out on my own, be humble and say ‘I’m human.’ I was vulnerable and I made a mistake. But I’m going to pick myself up and be an example, the example I want to be. … I wanted to show people you have nothing to be ashamed about.”
“We all suffer from something at one point,” she continued. “I just want people to talk about it. And if I couldn’t talk about my own problems, then how can I expect anyone else to?”
According to St. John, she is taking it a day at a time but is finding hope in helping others in need. After Julian’s death, she and Kristoff found El Saber Es Poder (Knowledge is Power) Foundation to battle mental illness and its stigmas. She said Julian’s art studio has been kept open to the public and it offers free creative and fitness programs. Kristoff launched a self-expression acting class for young adults which St. John said she will keep to honor his memory.
She also wants to raise awareness on transparency and reform in mental health facilities, ensuring they can offer maximum care for those in need.
“If I stop and think about these tragedies, it’s almost unbearable to me,” said St. John. “But I’m choosing to take these tragedies and do something to better the world. To help people, despite my pain. … I wasn’t put here to box and get a paycheck at the end of the night. I did that for so many years. That’s not my true purpose in life. My true purpose in life is to help others.”
St. John also urges those dealing with depression or any kind of mental illness or loss to seek help, rather than struggling to go on.
“Kristoff wasn’t just my ex-husband and the father of my children,” she said. “He was one of my best friends. He was the go-to person when I needed help with anything. If I wanted to cry with someone, to laugh with someone, he was the first person I called every day. … But he was crying out for help. … [And] we need to start taking mental health seriously.”
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).