Darren Criss Mourns the Death of His Older Brother Charles: 'He Was a Good Man with a Good Heart'

"It breaks my heart beyond measure to say that my beloved brother Charles has left us," Darren Criss shared

Darren Criss and Chuck Criss
Photo: Slaven Vlasic/Getty

Darren Criss' older brother, Charles, has died.

The Emmy-winning actor, 35, announced the news of his brother's death in an emotional statement posted to Instagram on Wednesday, calling the loss a "colossal shock." According to Darren, his brother died by suicide.

"It breaks my heart beyond measure to say that my beloved brother Charles has left us," Darren began.

"Obviously this is a colossal shock. His loss leaves behind a debilitating fracture in the lives of his mother, his brother, his three small children, and their respective mothers," he continued. "I have spent what 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. But in the short time that I've had to process everything, I've managed to put some words together that may help with some of the questions you have. And though it's with the heaviest sadness I've ever felt to have to write this, it does give me peace to know I'm putting it out there."

Referring to his brother as "Chuck" throughout the tribute, Darren fondly recalled some of his brother's best attributes.

"While he may have given off the impression he wasn't particularly outspoken, he would nonetheless, time after time, deliver the most wickedly funny lines that could cut a room in half with his equally impressive timing — which was almost always immediately followed by a bursting, boisterous laugh so infectious, it instantly made whatever was initially funny even funnier," he said. "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. 'Charles & Darren' were an inseparable, dynamic duo. We shared nearly everything and looked out for each other."

The Glee alum said his sibling was his "confidant and companion" as they "discovered the world together." When they grew older, music became one of their "greatest bonds."

"As an artist, he possessed a raw, inimitable talent that never ceased to inspire me. A distinct voice and songwriting style that I greatly admired for its singularity and sincerity," he continued. "His impressive skills as a musician mixed with his poetic observation of the world yielded a prolific amount of music that was endlessly unique, clever, fun, intriguing and beautiful to me ... A fitting metaphor for his very soul."

Darren said that Charles "loved a lot in his life" and "loved fully," emphasizing in particular "how much he really loved his children." (Charles shared his youngest child with his partner and his two eldest children are from a previous marriage.)

Continuing on, Darren said he "had to meditate" over how much he was willing to share regarding the circumstances of Charles' death. Despite the "extraordinarily sensitive and private matter," the actor acknowledged how "vagueness can lead to confusion, and provide ideas far worse than the truth."

"The last several years were increasingly difficult for Chuck as he struggled to find stability during an unfortunate rough patch in his life. 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 a severe depression welling up in him for some time," he wrote. "A depression that was only worsened by a lifelong struggle he had with expressing his feelings — a dangerous combination only 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."

Darren added, "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 also advised those who are struggling with their mental health or depression to seek professional counseling and support. He said such methods are "a wonderful way to help you see just how abundantly love is available to you."

"While it was a lapse in Chuck's mental wellness that took him, it is simply not something that can define who he was. All of the wonderful, inspiring positive things about his life far outshine the circumstance by which it came to an end," he continued. "Chuck Criss was vibrant, special, worldly, hilarious, insightful, gifted, intelligent, celebrated and adored."

"He was a good man with a good heart who contributed enormous amounts of laughter, music, and joy to the world," he added. "And for the ones who were lucky enough to take part in those wonderful moments, it's marvelous to know that those memories are plentiful, everlasting, and can never be taken away."

Charles' death comes nearly two years after their father, Charles William Criss Jr., died in April 2020. The patriarch had been coping with a rare heart condition.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

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