Ricki Lakes Talks Mental Illness After Ex-Husband’s Suicide

Ricki Lake

Actress and former talk show host Ricki Lake has opened up about the tragic suicide death of her ex-husband Christian Evans, who lived with bipolar disorder.

Evans, 45, took his life on Feb. 11 with a self-inflicted gunshot wound inside his car. He and Lake were married in April 2012, but the extreme nature of his condition led to their divorce in 2015. However, they had attempted to resume their relationship as recently as last fall.

“He had a lot of self-esteem issues and a lot of demons,” she told People magazine. “But I understood him, and he was someone that I think a lot of people misunderstood.”

As his manic episodes overwhelmed their relationship, their couples therapist advised Lake to cut off contact until he could stabilize his condition. Evans eventually underwent an involuntary psychiatric hold, known as a 5150, and entered a treatment facility. He moved back in with Lake when his condition stabilized, but moved out last September when his mania returned.

“I didn’t know what the hell hit me, because I didn’t know what it looked like, so I didn’t see it coming,” she said. “At the height of his mania, he thought he could fly. He thought he could cure cancer with his hands. It was horrific. He just wasn’t the person I had been with for four years.”

Lake said she did the best she could in offering support for him, but has still had to work hard to not blame herself for his suicide. She plans to scatter some of his ashes at his favorite beach in Ibiza, Spain. But most importantly, she plans to continue sharing his story in order to raise awareness of mental illness and mental health issues.

“I have to spread the word about recognizing this disorder and getting treatment as soon as possible,” said Lake. “Christian didn’t want to be labeled as bipolar, but he admitted he was in the note he left. That was him finally owning it. That was him giving me permission to tell his story.”