Professor Green shares pain of his father’s suicide for CALM BBC appeal
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Rapper Professor Green has said discovering his dad had taken his own life is “still as clear today as the moment it happened”.
The 31-year-old former drug dealer, who was brought up by his grandmother on Upper Clapton’s Northwold Estate, spoke out about the family tragedy to raise awareness of male suicide on the BBC Lifeline Appeal on behalf of Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM).
Green, whose real name is Stephen Manderson, said he joined the campaign because he still wished his father knew there was someone he could have confided in or reached out to.
In 2013 there were 6,233 suicides in the UK, of which 78 per cent were men, and it is the single biggest killer of men aged between 20-45 in the UK.
On the appeal, which aired last weekend, Green describes how his father was “always the parent I favoured, but even as a child things were complicated”.
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He continues: “At 18 we stopped talking and after five years I decided to reach out and try and arrange a meeting.
“Unfortunately we ended up arguing and the last words I said to him were, ‘I hate you’.
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“The terrible thing is I never got to see him because a few months later he killed himself.”
Green, who is happily married to former Made in Chelsea star Millie Mackintosh, said he still wondered why no one had seen it coming.
“I still find it quite hard to articulate the way I felt,” he said.
“It’s six years since it happened and the weird thing about grieving is it never stops.
“One of the most shocking things about male suicide is that so often it seems to come out of the blue – a regular bloke who has no diagnosis of mental illness decides to end his life.
“The pain of a suicide ripples out to consume everyone around that person.”
Green’s track Read All About It – which spent three weeks at number one in the UK after it was released in 2011 – addresses comments made by his father’s widow to the press, accusing Green of trying to cash in on his 2008 suicide.
The heartbreaking track includes lines like: “To think, I used to blame me, I wonder what I did to you to make you hate me, I wasn’t even bad, life’s a journey and mine wasn’t an easy ride.
“Wherever you are I really hope you find peace. But know that if I ever have kids, unlike you I’ll never let them be without me.”
The short appeal film for CALM also hears from the Stringer family who tragically lost their son, Hector, aged just 18, and comedian Jake Mills who attempted to take his own life but, through CALM’s support sought help and now campaigns to raise awareness of male suicide.
CALM pushes for cultural change so that men of any age feel able to talk about issues and get help when things start to go wrong.
Green said: “Communication can be a big problem between men, we don’t like to look weak and we think we can sort it out ourselves. Society likes to tell you that you should be happy all the time which makes it easy to think that if you’re not there’s something wrong with you.
“But happiness isn’t something you can feel all the time, and here’s the key – nor is sadness. I just wish my dad had known about that.”
The free, confidential helpline takes more than 40,000 calls a year on 0800 585858 (national) and 0808 802 5858 (London) every day from 5pm to midnight.
For more information see www.thecalmzone.net.
The programme is available to watch on the BBC website at www.bbc.co.uk/lifeline.