Belfast Telegraph

Zoe Ball wants to help people battling mental illness after boyfriend’s death

The broadcaster’s boyfriend, Billy Yates, died last year after battling depression.

Zoe Ball has said she felt compelled to celebrate her boyfriend’s memory following his suicide last year.

The broadcaster, 47, recently completed a 350-mile bike ride, raising more than £500,000 for Sport Relief in a fundraiser inspired by Billy Yates who died in May.

Ahead of the trip, Ball visited some mental health organisations as she tried to understand what was being done for patients and why suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK.

Writing in the Daily Mirror, Ball said after losing Yates she hoped to “give people living with mental illness a way to find some hope – and begin those vital conversations that can ultimately be life-saving”.

Sport Relief 2018

She said: “So many people as the week went on, either in person or on social media, spoke to me about their own ­experiences. There was even a note left on the windscreen of the support vehicle overnight from a woman who’d also lost someone close to her.

“I had taken on the challenge because I felt compelled to do something positive in my boyfriend’s memory after he died last year following a long struggle with depression.”

She said meeting various people struggling with mental health as well as support workers left her feeling “personally stronger and with a clearer sense of practical help that really can make a difference to people struggling with depression, anxiety, bereavement or even considering the most final action of ending their life”.

She called for more organisations such as Harmless, who support people at risk of self-harm or suicide.

She said: “It is quite frightening and heartbreaking that there are simply not enough projects like this. The truth is that we need more.”

Statistics from charity Samaritans show more than 6,600 people took their own lives in 2015.

Press Association


From Belfast Telegraph