Rebecca Gayheart: I was suicidal after fatal car accident

It’s been nearly two decades since Rebecca Gayheart’s tragic car accident, but the actress still thinks about Jorge Cruz Jr., the 9-year-old boy who died after she accidentally hit with him with her car back in 2001.

“I had a very terrible accident happen. A 9-year-old child died. And, you know, everything changed from that and, you know, I still have trouble talking about it, obviously, so if I get emotional, I apologize,” the 47-year-old began on the Tuesday, May 21, episode of “The Only One in the Room” podcast. “And that, you know, changed me. And, luckily, I came out the other side and really positive things have happened in my life since then.”

Cruz Jr. died from injuries a day after the June 2001 accident. While Gayheart paid for the little boy’s funeral and settled a wrongful death suit filed by the his parents in 2002, she admitted on the podcast that she still struggles with the incident.

“I struggle with the ‘Why?’ still,” the Beverly Hills, 90210, actress explained. “I still replay it in my head of, ‘Had I stopped at the gas station, maybe I wouldn’t have been on that street.’ You know, those things never go away — they stay with you forever and I did not cope very well after. … Listen, I just didn’t want to live after that accident.”

RELATED: Rebecca Gayheart and Eric Dane before their split

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Rebecca Gayheart and Eric Dane before their split
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Rebecca Gayheart and Eric Dane before their split
BRENTWOOD, CA - JUNE 03: Rebecca Gayheart, Eric Dane, Georgia Dane and Billie Beatrice Dane arrive at the 16th Annual Chrysalis Butterfly Ball at a private residence on June 3, 2017 in Brentwood, California. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)
BRENTWOOD, CA - JUNE 11: Rebecca Gayheart-Dane, Eric Dane, Georgia Dane and Billie Beatrice arrive at the 15th Annual Chrysalis Butterfly Ball at a private residence on June 11, 2016 in Brentwood, California. (Photo by JB Lacroix/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 21: Actors Rebecca Gayheart (L) and Eric Dane attend the 2nd Annual Hollywood Beauty Awards benefiting Children's Hospital Los Angeles at Avalon Hollywood on February 21, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.(Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 09: Actress Rebecca Gayheart(L) and actor Eric Dane(R) arrive at the 5th Annual Sean Penn & Friends HELP HAITI HOME Gala benefiting J/P Haitian Relief Organization at Montage Hotel on January 9, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)
CULVER CITY, CA - NOVEMBER 14: Actor Eric Dane and B2B Angel Rebecca Gayheart attend the 2015 Baby2Baby Gala presented by MarulaOil & Kayne Capital Advisors Foundation honoring Kerry Washington at 3LABS on November 14, 2015 in Culver City, California. (Photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for Baby2Baby)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 06: (L-R) Actress Rebecca Gayheart-Dane and actor Eric Dane attend the 14th annual Chrysalis Butterfly Ball sponsored by Audi, Kayne Anderson, Lauren B. Beauty and Z Gallerie on June 6, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Barry King/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - JUNE 04: Actress Rebecca Gayheart and actor Eric Dane attend the 43rd AFI Life Achievement Award gala at Dolby Theatre on June 4, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - JUNE 04: Actors Rebecca Gayheart (L) and Eric Dane attend the 43rd AFI Life Achievement Award Gala honoring Steve Martin at Dolby Theatre on June 4, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for AFI)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 01: Actors Rebecca Gayheart, Eric Dane, daughters Billie Beatrice Dane and Georgia Dane arrive at the World Premiere of Disney's 'Cinderella' at the El Capitan Theatre on March 1, 2015 in Hollywood, California.(Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 25: Actress Rebecca Gayheart (L) and actor Eric Dane attend the 21st Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on January 25, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 24: Eric Dane and Rebecca Gayheart attend Entertainment Weekly's celebration honoring the 2015 SAG awards nominees at Chateau Marmont on January 24, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by JB Lacroix/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 10: Rebecca Gayheart and Eric Dane arrive at the 4th Annual Sean Penn & Friends 'Help Haiti Home' Gala Benefit at the Montage Hotel on January 10, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jerod Harris/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 06: (L-R) Actor Eric Dane and actress Rebecca Gayheart arrive for Project Angel Food Celebrates 25 Years With 2014 Angel Awards at Project Angel Food on September 6, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Barry King/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 07: (L-R) Rebecca Gayheart-Dane, Billie Dane and Eric Dane arrive at the 13th Annual Chrysalis Butterfly Ball at a private Mandeville Canyon estate on June 7, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Amanda Edwards/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - APRIL 12: Actor Eric Dane (L) and actress Rebecca Gayheart attends the 25th annual GLAAD Media Awards on April 12, 2014 at The Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Barry King/FilmMagic)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - APRIL 12: Actors Eric Dane and Rebecca Gayheart arriving at the 25th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on April 12, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Paul Redmond/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 11: Rebecca Gayheart and Eric Dane arrive at the 3nd Annual Sean Penn & Friends HELP HAITI HOME Gala Benefiting J/P HRO Presented By Giorgio Armani at Montage Hotel on January 11, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Valerie Macon/Getty Images)
CULVER CITY, CA - NOVEMBER 09: Rebecca Gayheart and Eric Dane arrives at the 2nd Annual Baby2Baby Gala at The Book Bindery on November 9, 2013 in Culver City, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 29: (L-R) Actress Rebecca Gayheart, daughter Billie Beatrice Dane and husband actor Eric Dane attend the Disney Junior Live on Tour! Pirate & Princess Adventure at the Dolby Theatre on September 29, 2013 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
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Gayheart added that she “spent about a year” after the accident trying to kill herself “by doing every self-destructive thing” she could do.

“I just didn’t understand; I didn’t understand any of it, like, I had led, you know, sort of a charmed life up until then, even though I grew up dirt poor,” she said, noting that she had a great career, family and friends. “It just turned my world upside down and I lost faith in everything, like, I questioned God, like, ‘Why me? Why Jorge?’”

While Gayheart still asks herself those questions, she is in a better place now.

“Today, I am able to ponder those questions and still realize that I deserve to be happy,” she concluded. “That I am meant to be on this planet and that I have a purpose and I’m making, living amends for that, even though it was an accident.”

The Once Upon a Time in Hollywood star shares daughters Billie, 9, and Georgia, 7, with her ex Eric Dane. The twosome filed for divorce in 2018 after 14 years of marriage.

If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or considering suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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