“He was able to overcome so many things, but the death of Julian was just a breaking point for him in a lot of ways,” said one source.
On Monday February 4th, prolific actor Kristoff St. John was found dead, and alcohol poisoning is suspected. The official cause of death is deferred pending further investigation, USA Today reports.
For almost 30 years Kristoff St. John starred in the soap opera, The Young and the Restless, as Neil Winters. Beloved by friends, family, and coworkers, St. John’s life had been struck by tragedy when in November 2014 his 24-year-old son, Julian St. John died by suicide while undergoing treatment at a mental health facility.
At age 18, Julian had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, a serious mental illness that comes with a 40% risk of a suicide attempt, with males being at higher risk than females.
After Julian’s suicide, Kristoff St. John and his ex-wife Mia St. John, a respected boxer and Julian’s mother, sued the mental health facility where their son died for negligence, and won an out-of-court settlement.
According to TMZ, in winter 2017, Kristoff St. John reportedly attempted suicide close to the time of the third anniversary of his son’s death. St. John was placed on a 72-hour suicide watch after threatening to shoot himself.
On January 21, St. John retweeted what now seems to be a terrible harbinger, a message that read: ‘Grieving the loss of a child is a process. It begins on the day your child passes, and ends the day the parent joins them.’
“He was able to overcome so many things, but the death of Julian was just a breaking point for him in a lot of ways,” Stephanie Sloane, editorial director of Soap Opera Digest, said of St. John, to PEOPLE.
St. John’s ex-wife, immediately following the announcement of Kristoff St. John’s death, blamed the mental health facility. She wrote on Twitter in a since-deleted tweet:
‘THAT HOSPITAL KILLED OUR SON THEN MY HUSBAND. THATS WHAT HAPPENED! THEY KILLED MY FAMILY.’
After the actor’s death was made public, friends and coworkers flooded social media with words of grief and fond remembrance of a man who seemed full of kindness and love. Actress Vivica A. Fox called St. John “a true gentleman.”
PEOPLE recounted St. John’s 2013 Soap Opera Digest interview, where he movingly discussed his son’s struggle.
“My son, Julian, has been suffering from a drug addiction for some years now and has also been diagnosed schizophrenic. Unfortunately, he doesn’t take his medication, which disallows a daily health routine,” he said. “Quite often, people who suffer from bipolar disorder self-medicate because they refused to take their pharmaceutical drugs, so we have had out issues. Poor boy felt that the local park was more of a home than his mother’s home or mine, based on the relationship he has with a certain female, and I can’t condone that relationship. I never thought my son would be the kid at the gas station with the gas can trying to get a couple of dollars out of somebody for a bogus story, and this is where Julian is.”
St. John discussed his son’s artistic abilities proudly, ending with, “There is hope.”
Kristoff St. John won two Daytime Emmys for his role in The Young and the Restless, playing an ambitious executive at a cosmetics company. Coworker and close friend Shemar Moore told PEOPLE, “This is not how he’s going to be remembered in his last days. He’s going to be remembered for his journey, for how much he loved his children — Paris, Lola, and Julian, his son who had a hard time and took his life.”