Parents

Viral video Dad gets real about wife's suicidal thoughts in harrowing video

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, text TALK to 741741 or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources.

Most often, La Guardia Cross makes people laugh — posting funny "New Father Chronicles" videos about parenting his daughters, Amalah, 3, and Nayely, 1, on YouTube and on the TODAY Parenting Team.

But in his most recent video, the Florida dad shares the story of his wife Leah's depression and the suicidal thoughts that recently led to her treatment at a mental health facility.

"I've been trying to record this a few times," Cross says in the video. "Basically, I really came close to losing my wife last week."

Related: How to talk to kids about suicide

Cross says on a recent date night, Leah, who has dealt with depression for several years, opened up to him about her mental health struggles.

"We were talking and the truth just started to spill out — how she really was doing. She was losing hope."

They tried to contact her psychiatrist, but couldn't get a call back. The following day, Cross realized this was an emergency.

"All hope was gone — from her face, in her words," said Cross. "She was already starting to plan the end... all I knew was my wife was planning her end and telling me about it, and if I didn't do anything I may not see her tomorrow."

He debated what was the right thing to do, and ultimately Cross helped Leah check into a hospital, where she was treated for several days before being released.

"She's on a new set of medications that seem to be the best fit for her," Cross told TODAY Parents. "She's no longer in a dark and hopeless place, and she's able to think clearer and more rationally...we're taking it one day at a time."

Related: 6 symptoms of depression you should never ignore

Cross says it's hard to see his wife hit by the stigma of depression — both as a woman and an African-American.

"In general, if we don't deal with depression ourselves or have someone extremely close that does, our ignorance will define it for us," said Cross. "When it comes to the African-American community, it's a mix of survival and religion. Survival would say, 'You don't have time to complain. You've got to be strong. We're all struggling.' Religion can be a force of good or a force of 'Where's your faith? If you really believed, you wouldn't be depressed.' There's many that get that this is ridiculous, but some still hold on to depression being the result of a lack of faith."

La Guardia Cross
La Guardia and Leah Cross with their daughters, Amalah, 3, and Nayely, 1.

Cross says it was important for both him and Leah to share their story in hopes of encouraging others to get help.

"I usually keep things (on my YouTube channel) silly and lighthearted, but we've also shared the ups and downs of marriage, our near divorce, Leah's struggle with depression and the lessons we've learned along the way," he said. "The folks I've been chatting with in comment sections for nearly four years have become an extended family... for something of this magnitude to happen in our lives — I couldn't and didn't want to hide it or pretend like everything was OK."

So what advice does Cross have for spouses who are watching their partner struggle with mental illness or suicidal thoughts?

"I debated on taking her to the hospital," he admitted. "It seemed extreme, but she wouldn't be here if I hadn't. You don't have to wait until it gets to that point to act... just do something. If the first thing doesn't work, don't give up — try another thing... help doesn't always come packaged perfectly and at times, it can be really inconvenient, but life doesn't give us do-overs after it's gone."

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