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Roman Kemp ‘overwhelmed’ by response to suicide documentary

His friend Joe Lyons took his own life last year.


Roman Kemp (Ian West/PA)

Roman Kemp (Ian West/PA)

Roman Kemp (Ian West/PA)

Roman Kemp has said the reaction to his documentary about mental health and suicide in young men, which he made following the death of his best friend Joe Lyons, has been “completely overwhelming”.

The Capital Breakfast DJ, 28, was devastated by the death of the radio producer in August last year, who he described as his “absolute brother”.

The BBC Three documentary Roman Kemp: Our Silent Emergency examined the issue of young men’s mental health and explored why increasing numbers are taking their own lives and the reasons why so many of them never ask for help.

Kemp discussed his own mental health issues and investigated what can be done to encourage people to seek help, what preventative action needs to be taken and the lasting impact mental health and suicide can have on friends and families.

He told BBC Breakfast: “This was something that I approached the team about at BBC Three about making and everyone said to me at the time, is this too soon to make for you?

“I used this as my own therapy because Joe and I, what we did for a living, was make content that makes people laugh and I knew I wanted to do this almost as one last project together to try and make some form of difference.

“Seeing the response, seeing the fallout from it and seeing how much people are now starting a conversation and taking things from the documentary into their own lives, is completely overwhelming.”

He added: “One of the horrible things with suicide is you are left with so many questions, you are left with so many emotions that come from it, and as Joe’s mum Celia beautifully put it, when someone takes their own life, the pain that they feel in that moment doesn’t end, it gets past on to the people that are left behind.

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“I was so angry at why was I constantly hearing ‘it’s the last person that you expect that is suffering,’ and when does the last person that you expect become the person that you most expect?

“I think there is still a massive stigma around what people perceive as a depressed person, and that is why I felt it was important to open up about my own things.

“Like I couldn’t see it in Joe but all of the nation, if we wake them up in the morning on the radio, they think I’m this super-upbeat person, but it’s like I go through those moments too and depression doesn’t wear a uniform anymore.

“That is why it’s OK to go and get help if you have those down moments, it’s OK if a doctor recommends you take an anti-depressant or if a doctor recommends therapy, those are things that are completely natural and completely normal.”

Discussing why this is an issue that particularly affects young men, he said: “I think the main thing that I was so fixated on showing was this is about young men but I wouldn’t even call them men, I would say it’s children.

“We are talking about kids from the age of 14 taking their own lives and that to me is so shocking and something that parents should be aware of.

“I do believe that, in some shape or form, from the age of 16 I think a guy will have made a conscious decision whether or not they are going to open up and how much they open up to their friends.

“That is why it’s so important and why I wanted to go and do the research with the professors to work out if you get in early, if schools get in early from the age of five, to teach boys how to open up, what things like depression are, what tools they can use, if you teach them from the age of five, then by the age of 16 they are open to everything and that is what is important.”

Roman Kemp: Our Silent Emergency is available on BBC iPlayer now.

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