Content Warning: This article mentions addiction, drug use, and mental health struggles.
While Summer House is usually about fun parties and the sometimes-complicated dynamics of sharing a warm weather rental with a big group of friends, the show has tackled several serious topics during its six-season run. During filming for Season 5, Carl Radke's older brother Curtis Radke died after a "life-long battle with mental health and addiction."
"A couple of weeks ago, my brother Curtis passed away after a life-long battle with mental illness and addiction," Carl wrote on Instagram in September of 2020, adding that losing his "big brother is something I never could have imagined, and the sense of loss is even greater."
In the same post, Carol wrote, "As I reflect on Curtis' legacy, I think of his huge heart and passion for life. I know he would want to transform tragedy into something uplifting. I’m making it my mission to bring some light to one of the darkest experiences I've ever faced... and contributing something in my brother's honor."
He ended his post by writing, "Weathering the storm is far easier when you're surrounded by warm energy and good people. So let's act like it, beach. Here's to transforming a year with lots of loss into something meaningful. More Curtis, More Life."
Since Carl experienced the tragic loss, he's opened up about his brother's legacy on the show. While Carl was filming the sixth season, he honored the one-year anniversary of Curtis's death.
Carl Radke's older brother, Curtis Radke, passed away in 2020.
Carl's brother, 40-year-old Curtis Radke, passed away as a result of his struggles with mental health and addiction. While Carl didn't initially open up on social media about what exactly happened, he shared on the show that his brother had fatally overdosed in August of 2020.
In interviews, Carl shared that it was sometimes hard to be close with someone who had personal demons.
"Loving someone with an addiction is extremely tough. For a long time, I felt a lot of fear and shame about my brother because of the stigma that remains around mental health and addiction," Carl told TODAY. He also shared that when they were young adults, Curtis had sadly dropped out of college, and that he addictions grew worse.
It's unclear how it all started (and mental health and addiction is incredibly complex, so it's difficult to boil it down to a "start date") but Carl did share that Curtis had it rough in high school. They both grew up in a competitive environment, and this seemed to take a toll on Curtis.
"Things changed in high school. We have a very competitive community with sports and academics, and I always felt like we were measured by social status. That pressure was a lot for a 14-year-old entering high school. I think when you're young and don't feel like you fit in, it's easier to run with a crowd who may not be the best to surround yourself with. We definitely noticed a big change in his school work and he found himself getting into trouble a lot more," Carl shared.
Carl has paid tribute to his brother on 'Summer House,' and on social media.
In the months since the Summer House star suffered the loss, he's opened up about grief, his brother's legacy, and how his parents are doing on social media and on the show.
Most recently, Carl shared a photo on Instagram in February of 2022, to honor what would have been Curtis's 42nd birthday.
"The feeling of loss will never go away but I commit daily to be grateful for the things I’ve gained. Yeah I'm smiling here but I’m crying while I type this. It's funny how grieving has it waves and it’s 'days.' Our birthdays are so close it's hard not to think about him and the impact he had on my life..." Carl wrote in part of his caption.
In the Season 6 episode, "A Twisted Fairytale," Carl discussed the one-year anniversary of his brother's death, and his sobriety journey.
"This week was definitely an emotional week," he said on the show. "My brother's passing is a year ago. I cried a lot, talked to my mom and dad a lot... They worry about me. A huge gift I've given them is my sobriety. They can sleep better at night knowing that. My brother's in a better place, [and] I'm also in the best place I've ever been."
Summer House airs on Mondays at 9 p.m. on Bravo. You can also stream the show on Peacock.
If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol or drug abuse, call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357.