Irish rugby international Luke Ambler opens up about losing his brother-in-law by suicide at 23: ‘It left behind complete destruction and devastation of the family’
Irish Rugby international Luke Ambler has opened up about the devastating loss of his brother-in-law Andy, which inspired a mental campaign backed by stars including Ricky Gervais.
The star, who plays for Halifax RLFC, spoke about losing his partner Lisa’s brother Andy (23) to suicide in April and the impact it had on their family.
“My partner Lisa’s brother Andy Roberts died by suicide and it left behind complete destruction and devastation of the family,” said Andy speaking to The Ray Darcy Show on RTE Radio One.
“It was a really, really tough time for our family. Andy was 23 at the time, a lovely normal guy. He played football and was an absolutely doting dad and it was completely out of the blue. His daughter was just going 2 at the time.”
Luke admitted that Andy’s death came completely unexplained, making it even more difficult to cope with.
“[The last time I saw him was] the Sunday morning before the Monday night that he did it. On the Saturday we were at our house and we were having a laugh and joke. He was planning to go to Thailand with a few friend. He planned to meet my missus, his sister, and his cousin the day after. He was in really good spirits, he went up to play a bit of football with his mates and had a good time with them. On Sunday night he went and had dinner with all the family. On Monday night, that’s when it happened.
“It was really hard to deal with. It was so impulsive. Because there wasn’t a note, it’s left so many questions unanswered. It’s been really difficult,” he said.
Since Andy’s death Luke has established Andy’s Man Club, a support club for men coping with mental health difficulties. The rugby star’s campaign It’s Okay to Talk has been backed by celebrities, including Ricky Gervais and Danny Cipriani.
"Andy's Man Club's tagline has always been, 'It's Okay To Talk.' So we did the OK sign and I took a selfie and I tagged a few friends to get it going."
"It was a snowball effect...by Friday, you were talking rugby league teams, cricket teams, athletes, right up to Danny Cipriani, Ricky Gervais, it's gone viral."
"At our group sessions, it's not like one person stands up and tells everyone they should do this and that, everyone tells each other stuff and helps them deal with things."
"Everyone's got mental health," Luke explains. "Like with physical health, there's some people who's fit and there's some who's not fit and everyone's striving to get fit."
“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, 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.”
In 2015, 451 men took their own lives in Ireland and 256 of them were under the age of 45.
If you have been affected by this article, the Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 or visit www.samaritans.org