news

Samuel Johnson lost the love of his life to suicide 13 years ago. He hasn't dated since.

For 24-hour mental health support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636.

He’s the affable Dancing with the Stars winner and celebrated Aussie actor on an epic crusade to “kick cancer in the face” once and for all.

But behind the infectious smile, giving spirit and down-to-earth personality for which he is beloved, Samuel Johnson’s life away from the bright lights of fame has been peppered with a unique kind of grief. One that stems from the loss of a loved one by suicide.

A tragedy he’s not only experienced once in his life, but three times.

We sit down for a one-on-one with Sam Johnson. Post continues after video.

Samuel’s mother ended her own life when he was just three years old. And in 2005, he lost his close friend Heather through suicide.

Speaking to Who magazine this week, the 41-year-old actor touched on the third suicide that dots his painful past. That of his former girlfriend, Lainie Woodlands, who ended her life in 2006, two months after Heather.

She was 20 years old at the time.

“I’ve been too scared to be in another relationship since my girlfriend died 13 years ago,” he told the magazine of his love life in response to rumours he’s romantically linked to his late sister Connie’s best friend, Emma Rooke.

ADVERTISEMENT

In 2015, he spoke about Lainie on Meshel Laurie’s Nitty Gritty Committee podcast.

He called her “the most beautiful creature in the world”, “boisterous”, “fun-loving” and “full of smiles”.

“I met and fell in love with a beautiful young lady called Lainie,” he told Meshel.

“She was a bit too amazing though and I couldn’t quite handle it so I kind of bailed on her and then she killed herself…”

“I knew I wasn’t the cause,” he added – a glimpse into the conscious decision he’s made not to blame himself.

“I’m OK with being the straw that broke the camel’s back and that’s how I can choose not to feel guilty about it because ultimately there are a lot of other things that went into that act that she committed to.”

Following her death, alongside his late girlfriend’s mum, Samuel became embroiled in a court battle for Lainie’s body to be buried in Daylesford. Her father wanted her buried in Sydney.

The ordeal left the actor in what he has since called “a very dark place”.

“When someone takes their own life, you know, you live forever without any of those questions getting answered. And you have to come to terms with the fact that there’s no single answer,” he told Australian Story back in 2008.

In an interview with ABC Radio at about the same time, he discussed the effect consistent tragedy has had on him.

“The three key women in my life have left me. It floored me. You know, I mean, it’s still floored me. It’s just ruined me emotionally and I’m very sad now.”

But more recently, in 2017, he told Anh Do the pain of losing the “love of his love” is unrelenting; “With every year it gets more profound. My sadness grows”.

ADVERTISEMENT

While his scars run deep, he knows how to look after himself when it comes to his own mental health.

For starters – he doesn’t like labels, as he told Mamamia last year.

“In my mum’s day, when my mum was sick, they called it manic depression,” he said. “Connie had it, I had it and [his eldest sister] Hilde’s got it – absolutely no questions asked. But we’re in a world now that is open about it, and I treat it now and I’ve treated it for years.”

These days, it’s called bipolar disorder, and he calls his management of it – diet, exercise, sleep, mindfulness – the “boring” part of life.

“The combination of doing the work, getting the therapy, taking the medication and growing older and more weary has kind of led me to a state of relative calm,” he said. “I think mental health is something that’s harsher when you’re younger.”

Samuel Johnson opens up about his personal life on his latest episode of No Filter. Post continues after audio.

When it comes to his love life, while he says the pain from losing Lainie is too great to try again, he adds that currently, life is “perfect” and he doesn’t feel the need to change it.

“I’ve chased the demons away for now,” he said.

For Samuel, a quest for love simply isn’t a priority. There are far greater battles to be won.

In an interview with Yahoo Lifestyle in April, Samuel said he feels he has one sole purpose. His relentless campaign to raise money for cancer research through his foundation Love Your Sister.

“I don’t know, I fell in love with the cancer problem and that’s what I’m married to,” he said.

“It’s become my sole focus and I do it for me as well as others, it’s a two-way street.”

In 2013, he decided to jump on a unicycle and ride around the country for 364 days to raise awareness and funds. In 2017, he organised the record-breaking Big Heart Project, which raised $2.535 million in 5c coins. And his charity, Love Your Sister, has amassed $8.5 million in donations.

He’s the self-appointed ‘Head of Cancer Vanquishment in Australia’, and his passion for the cause is where his heart lies.

If you are concerned about the mental health of yourself or a loved one, seek support and information by calling Lifeline on 13 11 14, Mensline on 1300 789 978, or Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800.

00:00 / ???