Former Real Housewives of New Jersey star Danielle Staub is speaking out on the suicide of Russell Armstrong and says the pressures of being on a reality show also contributed to her contemplating suicide.
"I was very close to taking my own life -- not just on one occasion -- it's been several times," Staub told ET in an exclusive interview. She added: "And what always saved me was the thought of my children living with that for the rest of their lives. I didn't want them to have that memory of me. I wanted them to remember me -- even if I'm going through my struggles -- alive."
Fighting back tears, Staub said she understands the deep dark places that must have led to the suicide of Taylor Armstrong's estranged husband -- both of whom were featured on Bravo's The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. "I don't have words to describe how alone you feel. And everybody's coming at you, and judging you, and they don't even know you."
She said there are countless examples of families that have been torn apart after exposing their lives on reality programs. "It's really hard to talk to people who are not in our genre about what really goes on when the lights go down. And maybe your family starts to break apart, and you get caught up in it. And I'm not blaming anybody for what I've been through, I'm just saying it's hard to explain top people who aren't doing this for a living."
"There's so much hate in this world. And I just hope that his children and Taylor, and his ex-wife as well, all know that my genuine heartfelt sympathy and empathy, especially empathy, is with them at this time and always."
Staub has not given up the reality genre altogether and is currently appearing on VH1's Famous Food -- airing Wednesdays at 8 p.m. -- in which a colorful crew of celebrities roll up their sleeves and work together to launch their own restaurant.