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Zoë Ball encourages people to speak up on depression in wake of partner's suicide

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Zoë Ball has taken to Twitter the first time since her boyfriend Billy Yates committed suicide last week.

The radio presenter had been in a relationship with Yates, who was 40, for several months. His body was found at his home in Putney, west London, on Thursday 4 May, and police have since confirmed that they are not treating his death as suspicious.

Ball, 46, retweeted a series of messages urging her followers to seek help if they are experiencing depression or any other mental health issues.

One of the posts, which had initially been shared by her management company, read: “On behalf of Zoë Ball, we would like to thank everyone for the kind messages and support during a very difficult time.”

Ball also retweeted a message from food blogger Jack Monroe about mental health and suicide prevention.

It read: “You don’t have to ‘man up’ – the biggest killer of men under 45 is suicide. The strongest thing to do is talk.”

Yates was a cameraman on the BBC programme Antiques Roadshow and had also worked on ITV’s The Xtra Factor.

Shortly after the tragic news of her partner’s death was announced, Ball shared a poignant message on Instagram.

It read simply: “My sweet love.”

My sweet love X

A post shared by Zoe Ball (@zeebeezoobee) on

Ball has since cancelled a number of her upcoming shows on Radio 2.

“Zoë is devastated and requests that during this difficult time the media respect her privacy as well as the privacy of her friends and family,” her spokesman told the Press Association.


Read more: Illustrator depicts how depression really feels in beautiful new book


Ball’s fans have since taken to Twitter to comfort the Radio 2 DJ, offering their love and support, as well as thanking her for using her social media platform to share informative posts from mental health charities such as Samaritans and Heads Together.

“If it really doesn't feel like the force is with you today, we're here and ready to listen,” read one, before urging anyone who is struggling to cope to “talk” to someone.

While you can never really generalise how struggling to cope can make you feel or act, the Samaritans have compiled a list of symptoms.
These include:

  • Lacking energy or feeling tired
  • Feeling restless and agitated
  • Feeling tearful
  • Not wanting to talk to or be with people
  • Not wanting to do things you usually enjoy
  • Using alcohol or drugs to cope with feelings
  • Finding it hard to cope with everyday things

If you think that these sound like you or someone you know, the charity has urged that you get in touch with them now.  

Samaritans adds: “You don’t have to feel suicidal to get in touch. Only 1 person in 5 who calls Samaritans actually says that they feel suicidal.”

Samaritans (116 123) operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year. If you prefer to write down how you're feeling, or if you're worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at jo@samaritans.org.

Images: Rex Features

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