The Young and the Restless star Bryton James is opening up about his last working day with the late Kristoff St. John, who died in 2019 from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. His death was ruled accidental because of St. John’s use of alcohol.
According to Soaps, James told General Hospital star Maurice Benard on Benard’s podcast State of Mind how he didn’t realize the pain St. John was going through in his personal life until later in their professional friendship on set. St. John had suffered the loss of his son Julian, who died by suicide years prior. St. John still grieved for his son and felt guilt for his son’s death.
“For me…there was nothing negative about [St. John],” James said about first meeting and working with St. John when James came to The Young and the Restless at 17 years of age. “He was the most positive light, ball of energy at work.”
He said that he didn’t hang out much with St. John outside of work, but while on set, “[i]t was nothing but fun.” However, when he watched the documentary A Man Called God, he learned more about St. John’s life.
"He experienced some real trauma as a child," he said. "I couldn't believe it when I saw it because knowing him at work, you wouldn't know."
He said he began noticing changes as Julian’s battle with schizophrenia worsened, and St. John talked more openly about what his personal life was like. But after Julian died, James said he noticed how St. John was “very good…at keeping [his personal life] separate” from the rest of his life.
“Knowing what we know now, the only thing I regret is not staying more involved in his life outside of the set,” said James.
He said of St. John, “I’ve never seen somebody suffer, in person, like that. I twas the hardest thing to watch, the hardest thing to see, because you can’t do anything.”
James was referring to when he last saw St. John alive, during which St. John had “been drinking pretty heavily for days straight and was talking about the possibility of hurting himself.” James and co-star Daniel Goddard spent the day with St. John, but James said St. John was “convinced that he lost his job, just so many things. It was all wrapped up into grief, it was all about Julian at the end of the day.”
If you or someone you know is suffering from suicidal ideation, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8225 or visit the lifeline’s website. Spanish-speakers can call 1-888-628-9454 and those who are deaf or hard of hearing can dial 711 before the main number.