In a recent interview with Entertainment Tonight (ET), The Young and the Restless star Kristoff St. John, who played Neil Winters in the daytime soap, and his ex-wife, Mia, said they are still mourning the loss of their son, Julian, who died by suicide, on November 23, 2014, at a mental health facility, after a lifelong battle with schizophrenia.
Julian died nearly three years ago at the age of 24 at a mental health care facility in Long Beach, California. Julian’s death in his room at La Casa Psychiatric Health Facility was pronounced a suicide, according to People magazine.
Kristoff and Mia filed a wrongful death lawsuit in 2015 against the mental health facility. The lawsuit alleged that the staff, including the nurses and other caregivers, were guilty of negligence at a time that the patient was under suicide watch. According to the lawsuit, the nurses and staff were supposed to check on Julian every 15 minutes, but they skipped the mandatory check-ins and observations of the patient.
Kristoff and Mia told ET that surveillance footage revealed that the staff on duty at the time that Julian died did not check on him for more than an hour. He was found unresponsive in his bathroom, with a plastic bag over his head.
“I watched that video and I saw my son talking to me on the phone and he hung up the payphone and he went into his room and they didn’t check on him,” Mia said. “Time went by and I couldn’t help but think my son was dying at that moment.”
According to the lawsuit brought by Kristoff and Mia, the staff tried to cover up their negligence by doctoring relevant documents, but the facility denied the allegation at the time Kristoff and Mia brought the lawsuit.
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The lawsuit was eventually settled last month, out of court, according to ET. Kristoff said he and Mia plan to use the amount to establish a foundation that will work to raise public awareness about mental health issues. The foundation will also work to raise awareness about conditions in mental health institutions and fight for reform.
Kristoff and Mia had shared with ET back in 2015, their experience of the traumatic moment they received a call from the facility that their son had died.
“That call was the worst call I’ve ever had in my life. I knew that Julian had died.”
EXCLUSIVE: 'Young and the Restless' Star Kristoff St. John Talks Lawsuit Against Mental Facility Over Son's Death https://t.co/ufyZlVpyDe
— Mia St. John (@MiaStJohnBoxer) April 13, 2017
In the latest interview, ET’s Kevin Frazier asked Kristoff about his feelings when he watched the footage showing Julian’s suicide.
“I’m still angry. I watched it the first time, I’ll never watch it again. It’s not something I want to see.”
However, Kristoff and Mia expressed the conviction that the incident and the lawsuit will force mental health facilities to review their policy and practices.
“Well, we know that they have already taken out the plastic bags and a lot of mental health facilities have taken over that policy since my son’s death,” Mia told ET. “I will fight for the rest of my life until something is done. Because there are other kids that are left in these facilities that have no voice and no one to speak out for them.”
Kristoff told ET that talking publicly about Julian’s death, more than two years after it happened, provides an opportunity to fulfill their commitment to raise public awareness about mental health issues and the need for reform of mental health facilities.
“We do not want to lose any more mentally ill patients who are not receiving the proper care from their caregivers.”
Kristoff St. John is best known for his role as Neil Winters in The Young and the Restless. He also portrayed Alex Haley on the ABC miniseries, Roots: The Next Generations. He appeared as Booker Brown on the popular ABC sitcom Happy Days, and as the eccentric boyfriend of Denise Huxtable on The Cosby Show.
[Featured Image by Kevin Winter/Getty Images]