Sunday 18 March 2018

'His death left a trail of complete destruction' - rugby star who tragically lost brother-in-law to suicide starts viral campaign

Luke Ambler
Luke Ambler

Tomás Heneghan

An Irish International rugby league player has sparked an online viral trend of sports stars and other celebrities posting selfies of themselves making an ‘OK’ sign.

The Halifax RLFC player, Luke Ambler began the social media movement on early this week when he posted an image of himself online doing the sign on Sunday night.

Ambler began the campaign off the back of a mental health support group he established in his area called Andy’s Man Club.

Ambler was speaking to RTÉ Radio One’s Ray D’Arcy Show on Wednesday afternoon, and spoke of the inspiration for the campaign, which came from his group’s tagline ‘it’s OK to talk’.

He created the group following the death by suicide of his brother-in-law Andy Roberts last year.

He explained: “My partner Lisa Roberts’ brother, Andy Roberts died by suicide and he just left complete destruction and devastation really with the family – a really, really tough time for our family.

“Andy was 23 at the time and just a top, bubbly guy, normal 23-year-old, played football, was an absolute doting dad and like I said it was completely out of the blue for us.”

Describing the experience of losing Andy, Ambler said: “On the Saturday we were at our house and we were having a bit of a laughing joke about some bets that his mum had put on, we were having a bit of banter and he was applying to go to Thailand with some friends the year after. He’d planned to meet my missus, his sister and his cousin the day after.

“Sunday night he went and had Sunday dinner with all the family and then Monday night, that’s when it happened.”

He explained one of the most difficult aspects of losing Andy was the lack of a note or a reason for the suicide.

“This is what is probably really hard to deal with, the fact that it was so impulsive. There was no note that we’ve ever found, so that leaves a lot of questions and a lot of answers left untold, so it’s been really difficult.”

“Mental health is not just some problem for people with a condition; everybody should be looking to improve their mental health. We’ve got people who come [to the group] who’ve got no mental health condition at all, but they’ve found now that they’re better at public speaking and they have better general wellness,” Ambler added.


Speaking about the campaign itself, he said: “Last Sunday I’m sat watching the press-up challenge and I’m thinking ‘this is going on 22 days, it’s a great cause what they’re doing it for’. Only thing I thought is that not everyone can do 22 press-ups, you’re excluding a few people there. And I thought it would be nice to think of an idea we could do.


“So me and Lisa, my partner, we thought up an idea to do like a thumbs up and then we thought, actually she’d said the ‘OK’ sign because obviously our tagline has always been ‘Andy’s Man Club – it’s OK to talk’.”


“So we did the ‘OK’ sign and I took the selfie and as I took the selfie I tagged a few friends, a few more than five – I cheated, I tagged a few more than five to get it going, then went and got in a bath and as I got in the bath I noticed no one was posting and I’m panicking and shouting down to Lisa ‘get one on’.


“I’m panicking and panicking and then woke up Monday morning and this snowball effect.”

Other well-known names to who have taken part in the viral trend since Sunday night include Rita Ora, Alastair Campbell, Rob Delaney and James Arthur.


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