Sarah Hyland opens up about struggle with suicidal thoughts on 'The Ellen DeGeneres Show'

The "Modern Family" star speaks out about her physical and mental health struggles in a new interview.
Sarah Hyland
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/ Source: TODAY
By Ree Hines and Francesca Gariano

This story discusses suicide. If you or someone you know is at risk of suicide please call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or text TALK to 741741 anytime.

Only one month after actress Sarah Hyland opened up to Self magazine about her two kidney transplants, Hyland spoke out further about the emotional effects of her constant sickness and pain to Ellen DeGeneres.

"After 26, 27 years of just always being sick and being in chronic pain every single day, and you don’t know when you’re going to have the next good day," Hyland explained in an interview on Friday. "It’s really, really hard. I would write letters in my head to loved ones of why I did it, my reasoning behind it, how it was nobody’s fault because I didn’t want to write it down on paper because I didn’t want anybody to find it because that’s how serious I was."

Hyland revealed that it took saying it out loud to someone to help her with coming to terms with her thoughts.

At the end of the interview, DeGeneres asked Hyland, "So the thing you would say to anybody feeling like that at all is just say it out loud, talk to somebody?”

"Yeah, I mean every person with their anxiety or depression or if you have suicidal thoughts, every individual is different," Hyland explained. "So I wouldn’t just rely on everything that I say. I’m just sharing my story. But I think talking to someone and saying it out loud really, really makes it sound almost ridiculous and it puts everything into perspective.”

Actress Sarah Hyland first opened about her battle with kidney dysplasia back in 2012, when she revealed that she'd been given a second chance at life when her father donated his kidney to her in April of that year.

The "Modern Family" star then opened up again in 2018, revealing that her first kidney transplant was only half the story.

"What most people don't know is that about two years ago, I went into rejection," she told Self magazine in an emotional and revealing cover story from December. "Saying that out loud is weird. Whoa! I don't cry."

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But a video from that interview shows that speaking about it all hit her hard and brought tears to her eyes.

"We did all of these tests and all of these treatments to try and save the kidney," Hyland explained. "But they basically said the transplanted kidney was like a house that caught on fire. You can't un-burn a house."

The cause of the rejection remains unknown, but it left her with few options. Initially, she required 12 hours of dialysis each week to filter her blood and maintain her health, until eventually, she had to find another match — and she did, thanks to her brother, Ian, 23.

But that life-saving prospect still felt devastating to her.

"I was very depressed," the 28-year-old recalled. "When a family member gives you a second chance at life, and it fails, it almost feels like it's your fault. It's not. But it does. ... For a long time, I was contemplating suicide, because I didn't want to fail my little brother like I failed my dad."

Hyland's medical needs, which began long before her first transplant, had always left her feeling like a "burden," like someone who had "to be looked after." Accepting the gift of life from her brother only intensified those feelings at first.

Ian, however, had a very different perspective on that.

"When Sarah first told me that she would need a second transplant, the initial wave of fear was washed over by a sense of resolution,” he told the magazine. "I only cared about Sarah knowing that I had her back and that she was going to be OK."

And while he admitted that the thought of having one of his kidneys removed was an "intimidating" one, "if it saves the life of someone you care about, anything is worth it."

Hyland's recovery from the second transplant wasn't easy, but she rallied with the help of her brother — and someone else.

Just three days before that surgery, she met her now-partner, Wells Adams.

"He was texting me in the morning before I went into surgery, and we were FaceTiming the entire time I was in the hospital," she recalled. "He's seen me at my worst. He was there through all of that."

And she credits him with helping her to see herself differently.

"I think that's why I feel the most beautiful in his eyes," she said, thinking back to their early days together. "Because he still finds me beautiful after seeing all that."

Months later, in December of 2017, without explaining any details to her fans at the time, Hyland took to Instagram and revealed that it had been "the hardest/worst year" of her life.

But she added that she'd decided to "continue fighting" and that she was finally "the happiest" she'd ever been.

Fans spoke out in support of Hyland after her interview with DeGeneres aired. One viewer wrote, “Thank you for being so open and transparent about such an important issue.”

“Such an inspiration,” another viewer commented.

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