Darren Criss penned a lengthy tribute to his older brother, Chuck Criss, revealing that the musician died by suicide at age 36.
In an accompanying statement, the Emmy winner noted that the death of his sibling “breaks [his] heart beyond measure” and was “a colossal shock.” Darren wrote, “His loss leaves behind a debilitating fracture in the lives of his mother, his brother, his three small children and their respective mothers. I have spent what already feels like a small eternity trying to wrap my head around it, something I suspect I’ll be attempting to do for the rest of my life.”
The American Crime Story alum reflected on Chuck’s life with “the heaviest sadness,” adding that “it was very hard not to be fond” of the performer. “Like our dad, [the late Charles Criss], there was something so disarming about his mild manner that you couldn’t help but feel affectionate toward him,” Darren continued. “He also happened to be a total goofball, which made him all the more lovable. … I loved my brother so much. And I know he loved me. Right out of the womb, he was my instant, ready-made best friend. And from that moment on, we absolutely loved being together.”
The brothers were “an inseparable, dynamic duo,” who always “looked out for each other” and bonded over their love of music, he wrote. Throughout their respective careers, the pair were “unwaveringly supportive audience members” for one another, with Darren adding that he felt “so eternally grateful” for the experiences he shared with Chuck. The twosome even collaborated in a band called Computer Games, releasing an EP in 2017.
“Chuck loved a lot in his life. And love fully. He loved his parents. He loved his family. He loved his friends. He deeply loved his long-term romantic partner,” the Broadway vet continued on Wednesday. “But above all, it is important to emphasize just how much he really loved his children — his youngest from his partner, as well as his two older children from his former marriage. His world revealed around them, and he loved being their father. He shared with them his own joy, good humor and song, and they adored him for it.”
Though the University of Michigan alum wanted to spend his time focusing on the positives in Chuck’s life, he recognized that there was another side of the “extraordinarily sensitive” situation.
“The last several years were increasingly difficult for Chuck as he struggled to find stability during an unfortunate rough patch in his life,” the California native wrote. “Despite our very vocal concerns about his well-being, and his protestations that everything was fine, it’s crushing to say now that Chuck clearly had had a severe depression welling up in him for some time, a depression that was only worsened by a lifelong struggle he had with expressing his feelings – a dangerous combination truly outmatched by his all-too-incredible ability to conceal it. Not just from the world at large, but most tragically, from the people who were closest to him. We will never know just how long he was fighting this war within himself, but last week, it consumed him fully, and he succumbed by taking his own life.”
Darren, who is expecting his first child with wife Mia Criss, acknowledged that “the breadth of a person’s life” is hard to capture in words, and noted that his brother experienced an “ever-evolving labyrinth of the highest highs and lowest lows” before he passed away. He conceded that “there are hundreds of one-line solutions” that could be voiced in the aftermath of a death by suicide but felt that those explanations wouldn’t do the “tragedy” justice.
“I would encourage anyone struggling to land on a simple answer to realize that serious matters of mental health do not yield simple, convenient answers,” the actor concluded. “It requires a much more complex consideration of where one’s mind has to have been to go through with something like this. … There is simply no sense, nay, compassion or decency, to try to find blame in any direction other than the inner most tragedy of untreated illness.”
The Golden Globe winner noted that Chuck’s struggles were “not something that can define who he was,” adding, “He was a good man with a good heart who contributed enormous amounts of laughter, music and joy to the world. … [That] can never be taken away.”
If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or considering suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).