Derek Hough broke down in tears discussing mental health and suicide on Friday.
The Dancing with the Stars judge, 37, posted an emotional video on Instagram revealing that someone he knew died by suicide weeks ago and spoke out about the importance of seeking help for mental health issues.
“I found out a man I knew died by suicide on Thanksgiving morning, and it was a complete shock because he was the most positive, just optimistic, beautiful man you could ever imagine, and it was jolting to say the least,” Hough says at the start of the video. “But it was a harsh reminder of this time of year and of depression, of seasonal depression, and just circumstances and the time of year when people feel like it’s too much.”
Hough said he originally was going to make this video weeks ago, but finally decided to sit down and make it after Stephen ‘tWitch’ Boss’s sudden death at age 40 on Wednesday.
He captioned the video with the National Suicide and Prevention Lifeline number.
“Now I’m learning about our friend Stephen and the fact that he went the exact same way as this man within a few weeks… it’s just heartbreaking, confusing, shocking. There’s so many different feelings and I’m trying to figure it out,” Hough added.
Hough implored people to talk to others if they are struggling with their mental health and reiterated that they don’t have to go through the pain “alone.”
“I just want to express and just to say for anybody out there who is feeling these thoughts and these feelings, please, please I beg you — I beg you, give people an opportunity to be there for you,” Hough says. “I know it feels like when you’re in that dark hole that it will just not get better, and I’m telling you right now, I promise you it does. It does get better.”
He continued, “So if you have those thoughts, if you have those feelings, just know that you’re not alone. And when I say that you’re not alone, I’m saying that people are feeling those feelings right now. They’re having those thoughts, those anxieties right now and that you are not alone. We were not meant to do this alone… We’re not meant to figure this all out by ourselves. We’re meant to figure this out together.”
Some stars voiced their support in the comments including Hough’s fiancée Hayley Erbert, who wrote, “I love you ♥️.” NFL linebacker Emmanuel Acho also commented: “Thank you for sharing this brother ❤️.”
The pro dancer — who also lost his uncle to suicide — said he wrote the song to encourage a friend who was experiencing tough times.
“Men don’t want to talk about their feelings,” Hough said. “If any other part of our body is injured, I think it’s easier for us to handle, but if our emotions are injured, then it’s like, ‘Oh, we don’t want to talk about that.’ Or, ‘Oh, something is wrong with me.’ Let’s make it a conversation we’re not afraid to talk about.”
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“In the past, whenever I go into dark times or I feel certain emotions, I never wanted anybody to know,” he said. “I didn’t want my family to know about it. I didn’t want my sisters to know about it. I wanted to be the hero. I want everything to be perfect. But that’s not a sustainable solution to your feelings. When I was able to share certain feelings with my family and reach out [to] my friends, it’s amazing how they’ll step up to the plate for you if you give them the opportunity to.”
He said he hoped that he could help inspire fans to open up and heal.
“I hate to see people suffering, and I can see a lot of people out there who feel like they’re alone,” the Utah native continued. “We talk about it to encourage somebody, to spark something or to be a catalyst.”
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988, text “STRENGTH” to the Crisis Text Line at 741741 or go to 988lifeline.org.