Strictly Come Dancing head judge Shirley Ballas fought back the tears after reflecting on her brother’s tragic suicide nearly 20 years on.
The ballroom and Latin dancer said she failed to spot any signs that her older brother and ‘protector’ David was suicidal before he took his own life in 2003 at the age of 44, despite speaking every day on the phone.
David’s picture is one of several featured in an interactive exhibition called The Last Photo, by the Campaign Against Living Miserably (Calm) on London’s Southbank, depicting the smiling faces of 50 people who died by suicide shortly after each photograph was taken.
During Wednesday’s This Morning, Shirley emotionally opened up about her ‘powerhouse brother,’ while speaking about the importance of raising awareness.
‘He was really the last person that I would ever think would take his own life. When I look back now, there were warning signs. There was little things that he would say or comments that he would make and I would be like “you’ll be fine, you’ll be fine.”‘
Two decades later, Shirley encouraged people to be more ‘astute’ when a shift in behaviour has become apparent.
‘Our lives are so packed as mine was back then with people saying “you’ll be fine,’ she added.
‘I’ve had people say that to me in some of the darkest times in my life, they don’t know what’s going on inside. And even when my brother past people said “It’ll be fine” and if you haven’t been through this it won’t be fine.
‘You learn to live with it but it never goes away. It’s hard to ever let go.’
Phillip later opened up about his own experiences and stressed how important it is ‘to talk to people.’
The key is to talk to people… I went through some very very dark times and I leaned heavily on my friends – as Holly knows – so you have to talk to somebody, you can’t do it on your own,’ he said.
‘We are in 2022 now,’ Shirley added.
‘There are many organisations where you can reach out to communicate on a small level.. We’re in a moving world with social media, life goes so fast, and if you just take a step back, a breath, a moment, and listen and really try to see your family or friend…’
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This Morning airs weekdays at 10am on ITV.