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‘Reacher’ Star Alan Ritchson Opens Up About Suicide Attempt

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Alan Ritchson is opening up about his tumultuous journey to stardom.

In an intimate conversation with The Hollywood ReporterRitchson gets candid about his ongoing struggle with bipolar disorder and ADHD, a suicide attempt that he credits his children for getting him through, and his story of being the victim of sexual assault.

Reflecting on his modeling days before he fully delved into acting, the Reacher star, 41, tells THR that there are “very few redeeming qualities” to being a model. 

“Let’s be honest, it’s like legalized sex trafficking. The industry is not regulated, and it’s a widely known secret that if you’re hired on a job, you’re basically being passed off to a photographer to be trafficked,” he states. “The number of times and situations where I was put in horrific environments where sexual abuse was the goal and the paycheck that you were desperate for in order to survive was the carrot, I can’t count on two hands. It was quite often.”

Ritchson said that low-profile modeling jobs were a godsend, but those gigs only paid the bills for so long. The actor claimed that, after agreeing to a nude shoot tied to an offer for a “lucrative campaign,” he was sexually assaulted by a “very famous photographer.”

“I left and drove straight to the agency that I was at in L.A. I stormed in and said, ‘F**k you for sending me there. You knew what was going to happen, and you did it anyway,'” the Blue Mountain State alum says. “I told them to never call me again. I quit the industry and it was the last photo shoot I’ve ever had. Those pictures were never seen or published. That was it. I swore it off and thank God acting found me at the exact same time so I was able to make a switch to a new career, but it left some scars.”

Alan Ritchson – Mike Coppola/Getty Images

After leaving the modeling world, the actor’s climb to stardom was a long, winding road. He’s become a familiar face for avid TV watchers who have spotted the actor as Aquaman on Smallville in 2005 before Justin Hartley took over the recurring role later in the series. He nabbed a multi-season run on the Spike TV sitcom Blue Mountain State, made brief appearances on several major series, including Black MirrorNew Girl, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and starred as Hank Hall/Hawk on Titans before landing his leading role on Reacher.

But leaving the modeling industry wasn’t the end of Ritchson’s trials and tribulations. The actor described how the demise of a business relationship “sparked an existential crisis” that eventually led to his suicide attempt in 2019. 

“I hung myself. It all happened so fast, and I was dangling there,” he tells THR. Ritchson said that it was a vision of his sons, Calem, 11, Edan, 10, and Amory, 8, in their mid-30s that saved him. “They calmly asked me not to do it, and told me that they wanted me to be here, alive and part of their lives.”

“I was diagnosed as bipolar right after,” he adds of receiving the bipolar diagnosis at age 36. 

Ritchson concludes that the experience ultimately allowed him to come to terms with his choice to be alive. “I came out of that whole thing asking myself, ‘OK, if I am going to choose to be alive here — a decision we all make, some to a greater degree than others — what am I doing? Why am I here?’ What I kept falling back on was the meaning and purpose of life as someone who believes that there is a creator and we are created beings, our purpose in life is, without qualification, to make the world a better place and serve others. That is what life is all about.”

Ritchson has been vocal about his bipolar disorder diagnosis, as well as recently being diagnosed with ADHD. In an interview for Men’s Health‘s March cover story, the actor shared that he sees a psychiatrist who tries to detect any symptoms every week, while his wife of nearly 20 years, Catherine Ritchson, and his assistant, who both have a deep understanding of the disorder, know what to look for and how to help manage any episodes. 

While it may seem like an overwhelming obstacle to his work, Ritchson told the outlet that he’s found a greater purpose in talking about his mental health on his YouTube channel. He said that he hopes sharing his experiences can make others feel less alone in their own tunnels of mental illness, in the way that doing so has pulled him out of periods of suicidal ideation.

It also helps that he has built a loving life outside of acting with his wife and their three sons.

In a post shared on Catherine’s 40th birthday on March 21, the actor gushed about his wife’s influence on his life. 

“I’ve known her since we were teenagers. It’s been anything but easy. But I’ll say this — She has the great gift (and burden) of awakening anyone within reach of her light to their higher self. She’s done it with me in powerful ways and if you’re ever lucky enough to meet her, no doubt she’ll have that effect on you,” Ritchson captioned the carousel of photos. “She embodies goodness and light. The world is objectively better because you’re in it, Cat.”

The Reacher star concluded his message to his wife with a sweet note, writing, “Here’s to hoping for an infinite number of cake days with you.”


If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988. If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

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