The brother of BBC Radio Ulster presenter Stephen Clements has spoken of how "the Earth shook" when told he had died.
Speaking to the Mental Wealth Podcast, Gavin Clements opened up on the loss his “superhero” brother caused and how counselling has helped.
“The Earth shook the day that we found out that Stephen had committed suicide and I don’t think we’ll ever get over it again, to be honest,” he said.
He explained his late brother’s talent on the airwaves had come from being himself.
“As everyone that ever had the privilege of meeting him will know, he was an absolute legend and a gentleman, be it on the radio, off the radio,” he said.
Yesterday a billboard dedicated to the broadcaster’s memory was visible in Whiteabbey on the main road towards his home in Carrickfergus.
Gavin said they had an “absolutely normal” childhood and did not think Stephen struggled with mental health in his early years.
“There was no suffering with depression, we didn’t even know what the word was,” he said.
He revealed his brother had nearly died once before around 2003 when he was attacked while living in South Korea.
“It was, we think, a racist attack but we never found out,” he said. “Although (in January 2020) we got the call to say that Stephen was dead, we’ve actually had that call once before from Korea, to say come and get his body, that he was dead.”
Having suffered bad head injuries, he made a full recovery.
Gavin said: “I know what it’s like to win the lottery, because you’re told your brother dies and then you find out an hour later he was alive. It was amazing. How much I would give for that now.”
Gavin shared that he had also struggled with suicidal thoughts in the past, but had never acted on them.
“As far as Stephen, I’d say there’s definitely a source, there was something that definitely was there throughout the later years but we just don’t know exactly what it is,” he said.
Having looked back through all his final conversations with his brother, Gavin said it was natural for loved ones to wonder if they could have changed the outcome.
“I don’t think anyone can do anything when someone turns round and makes that decision,” he said.
He later learned Stephen had reached out to a family member in a letter to say he had suicidal thoughts. “Obviously we never knew about that, but absolutely no blame there whatsoever... clearly he was in a very hard place,” he said.
He said counselling had been a major help to his family in processing their grief, and urged others to do the same.
“It’s all about talking. The more talking the better,” he said.
Looking to the future, Gavin said he wants to keep his brother’s legacy alive with a charitable foundation in his name.
If you have been affected by any of the issues in this story, contact the Samaritans on 116123 or Lifeline on 0808 808 8000