Family's tribute to Lil' Chris
The family of reality TV star and singer Lil' Chris have spoken of his struggle with depression and determination to help others following his sudden death.
The pop star, real name Chris Hardman, shot to fame in Channel 4's Rock School after Kiss frontman Gene Simmons made him the lead singer of a student band.
He was later offered a solo deal and went on to have a top five hit with Checkin' It Out in 2006.
Mr Hardman was found dead aged 24 in his home town of Lowestoft, Suffolk, on March 23 after police and paramedics were alerted.
In a statement issued today, his family said he was "a huge personality who will be missed by everyone who knew him".
They added: "Chris had struggled with mental health issues and depression in recent years.
"He was committed to helping others find better ways of overcoming this illness and publicly said he wished to find a cure.
"Despite this, his concern was always his family and his friends, whose happiness was his priority."
The statement continued, describing him as a "hugely creative" person who would use his talents to make others smile.
"If he wasn't bringing joy through music he was telling jokes or pulling pranks," the family said.
"He was the sunshine on a rainy day, and could make friends the minute he walked into a room, making everyone smile with his gorgeous, cheeky face.
"A real people person, he would always take the time to stop and talk, no matter who or when, and we are proud that he was so well thought of by all who knew him.
"So many commented on what a lovely, well brought up person he was, so polite and kind and a pleasure to know."
His funeral will be a private event for family and friends only. Those attending will be asked to wear green, which was his favourite colour and others are invited to wear green to remember him.
In an earlier statement, Suffolk Police said they were not treating the death as suspicious.
"A post mortem examination is due to take place to establish the cause of death and a file will be passed to the coroner in due course and an inquest opened," the force added.
Samaritans deputy chief executive Fiona Malcolm said: "We are saddened to hear of the death of Chris Hardman (aka Lil' Chris) and our thoughts go out to his loved ones.
"If anyone has been affected by this news, or is struggling to cope, we would like to let people know that Samaritans is here for them if they need to talk.
"Samaritans is here round the clock, every single day of the year, to listen and offer confidential support when things are getting to you, by phone on 08457 909090, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can find the details of your local branch at www.samaritans.org."