‘Dance Moms’ Kalani Hilliker shocks cast by revealing mental health struggles

Kendall Vertes, Paige Hyland, Chloé Lukasiak, Kalani Hilliker, JoJo Siwa and Brooke Hyland attend "Dance Moms: The Reunion" Premiere Event & Red Carpet at Moxy Hotel on April 25, 2024 in New York City. (Photo by Bonnie Biess/Getty Images for (Getty Images)

If you or a loved one is feeling distressed, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The crisis center provides free and confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call or text 988 or chat at 988lifeline.org.

NEW YORK – Former "Dance Moms" star Kalani Hilliker had a moment that stunned her fellow cast members during the reunion show, "Dance Moms: The Reunion." 

Through the years, fans watched Hilliker, along with JoJo Siwa, Nia Sioux, Brooke and Paige Hyland, Kendall Vertes, and Chloe Lukasiak grow up on the successful reality show starring Abby Lee Miller at her Pittsburgh dance studio. In addition, the show served as a launching pad for Maddie and McKenzie Ziegler’s careers. 

The Ziegler sisters and Nia Sioux opted not to attend the reunion, which was filmed eight years after the original cast left the program. 

While Hilliker remains grateful for her time on the show, she shared it was also harmful to her mental health.

In a segment of the reunion, the young women discussed their favorite dances. While the other cast members were animated during the walk down memory lane, the camera panned to Hilliker who was visibly upset. It then turned into a conversation about their most impactful dances and with tears streaming down her face, she says, "I don’t know if I can talk about this dance." She then excused herself to use the restroom for privacy. 

Kalani Hilliker attends "Dance Moms: The Reunion" New York Premiere on April 25, 2024 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

Siwa followed her and showed her support by saying, "When you want a friend, I’m out here." Hilliker let her in as audio picked up Hilliker saying, "I just never talked about this before." 

Her mom also followed her and she shared with the other two women that she’s had suicidal thoughts before, shocking her mother and friend. "I’ve called suicide hotlines before and that’s the dance we’re about to talk about. I just like…I can’t even watch the dance." 

The girls performed a dance called "Suicide Hotline" years earlier in which Hilliker was the lead. The dance was posted to YouTube seven years ago and has garnered over 12 million views.

"This was obviously one of our darker dances," Vertes explained. "A few days after the episode aired, [people from the hotline] called and said ‘we’ve never gotten so many calls. So, that’s why this dance has a huge impact on not only Kalani but all of us." 

When Hilliker returned to the set, she shared how she struggled with her mental health while filming the show with other members of the cast. 

"I have personally had suicidal thoughts and so, watching the dance obviously triggers emotions," Hilliker said as her cast members surrounded her for support while the mothers watched in shock. "I do think it’s important to talk about. Like, you can call 988 and they can help you. I’ve called and they helped me."

After moving to Los Angeles, Hilliker then moved back home to Scottsdale, Arizona during the pandemic. Last year, she said on the "Sofia with an F," podcast that she loves living a normal life and that she steps into the spotlight at events in New York and LA when she chooses to. 

Watch the reunion segment below.

This story was reported from Los Angeles.