“Little House on the Prairie” star Melissa Gilbert said her “heart is aching” for actress Regina King after hearing about her son’s death.
King’s 26-year-old son, Ian Alexander Jr., reportedly took his life on Friday.
Gilbert can relate to King’s pain. At age 11, she thought her father had died from a stroke. However, the tragic reality was that her father committed suicide, and it was over 30 years later that she learned the truth.
In an Instagram post, Gilbert said her “heart” ached for King and all of her loved ones. Gilbert reposted fellow actress Holly Robinson Peete’s Instagram page. She also reposted the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
People magazine reported that King issued a statement over the tragedy.
“Our family is devastated at the deepest level by the loss of Ian,” Regina King wrote in her statement. “He is such a bright light who cared so deeply about the happiness of others. Our family asks for respectful consideration during this private time. Thank you.”
King, Alexander Recently Celebrated Birthdays
On Wednesday, Regina King’s son celebrated his 26th birthday. Days before Alexander Jr.’s birthday, King turned 51.
For King’s 50th birthday, Alexander shared a touching Instagram post about his mom.
He called having her as a mother “the greatest gift I could ask for.”
Alexander Jr. also said watching his mom succeed was something he would be “forever grateful for.”
King raised Alexander Jr. as a single parent when she separated from Ian Alexander Sr. in 2007. Though she had a booming acting career, King talked about struggling at times while nurturing her son’s growth.
But as mother and son grew, they only got closer. Reportedly, the two got matching tattoos with the words “unconditional love” in Aramaic.
Melissa Gilbert Learned Truth Of Father’s Suicide Years Later
Gilbert told CBS interviewer Mo Rocca about her adoptive father, Paul Gilbert.
The “Little House On The Prairie” actress said family members kept the secret of her father’s suicide for years. She learned about it 30 years after the fact.
Melissa Gilbert told Rocca that she wasn’t bitter about the secret, but she would have handled it differently if she was in the same position of telling a child. She told Rocca that the situation was “what I’ve been dealt.”
She added, “you’re only sick as your secrets.”
In October, Gilbert spoke out on World Mental Health Day, posting a photo of her late father on Instagram.
In her caption, she told the story of his death, saying that “he threatened to do it for a year before he finally put a gun to his head.”
She urged others to take threats or pleas for help seriously. Gilbert also related that if others had helped her father, his outcome might have turned out differently.
“Don’t brush things under the rug,” Gilbert concluded. “Be there. Be honest. Love one another. Help. End the stigma.”