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How Zoë Ball plans to find answers about her partner's suicide

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Kayleigh Dray
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In an emotionally-charged appearance on The One Show, Zoë Ball has spoken publicly about the suicide of her boyfriend, Billy Yates, for the first time – and the incredible tribute she has planned for him.

Zoë Ball had been in a relationship with Billy Yates for several months before his body was found at his home in Putney, west London, on 4 May 2017.

Now, in an interview with The One Show’s Matt Baker and Angela Scanlon, Ball has explained how she hopes to honour her late partner – and raise awareness about mental health.

“My boyfriend struggled with depression and he died last year,” she said.

“After he died I was left with lots of questions. I think it is one in four of us in the UK that are living with mental illness.

“Those figures are huge, so most people you meet are going to have been touched by this subject.”

A post shared by Zoe Ball (@zoetheball) on

Ball added: “Mental health resources are under huge pressure and I think a lot of people aren’t necessarily getting the right help as quickly as they could.”

The Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two presenter went on to explain that she plans to raise awareness about mental health by making a documentary, as well as taking part in a multi-day cycling challenge for the BBC’s Sport Relief.

She said: “I am going to visit some projects that funded by Comic Relief that are helping people find a way to move forward, and hopefully meet some families who have gone through what myself and Billy’s family have gone through.”

“And ask the questions about what are we doing, how are are we helping, and where can we turn for help? What should loved ones be doing?

“There’s a lot of subjects here so I’m going to go out and visit these projects, see the work that’s being done, and encourage people to get involved.

“That’s why I’m doing it.”

A post shared by Zoe Ball (@zoetheball) on

Since Yates’ death, Ball has been 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,” reads 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.  

A post shared by Zoe Ball (@zoetheball) on

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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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is editor of Stylist.co.uk, where she chases after rogue apostrophes and specialises in films, comic books, feminism and television. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends. 

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