CALM supporters Giancarlo and Carlo Gaglione found themselves sharing stories over a cuppa with UK rap star, CALM Patron Professor Green. Here, Giancarlo blogs about what happened and why…
It’s not every day you get to welcome a rap superstar into your mum’s living room, but on Wednesday 13 May we hosted Professor Green. He wasn’t there for my mum’s famous spring rolls (although, naturally, he’d heard of them), he was there to film a documentary on suicide for the BBC.
Knowing that the BBC were coming to film in our dining room, my mum had polished the silver, got out her best china and put some fresh pot pourri in the dish. Meanwhile, I had visions of the massive entourage that Professor Green would be bringing with him, but how refreshing it was when he turned up pretty much just with his beloved dog Arthur. What surprised me the most was how warm, genuine and nice he was.
Professor Green has recently signed up to be Patron of CALM, and I had the upmost respect for him in doing so, as it takes something special for a celebrity to back a campaign around the social taboo of suicide. He does have a personal link to it, of course; his dad was cruelly taken away from him by suicide, and this BBC documentary was a chance for him to find out some reasons why.
For the next two hours, my dad and I had a very deep conversation with him, and went to some places that were tough for us all to go to, but we felt it was important. This was our chance to share my brother Lan’s story, who died in 2012, and to help raise the awareness we had been campaigning for all these years.
When Lan took his own life, my family and I became very focussed on a mission to raise awareness around suicide, and to get men talking. That year, we desperately tried to push the issue into the public eye. I wrote articles that I wanted to be published, I spoke to all the Premier League clubs about an initiative to publicise it, my dad even wrote to the Prime Minister, but to no avail. Finally, now, it’s encouraging to see that the BBC are funding programmes around suicide. In the months preceding Professor Green showing up on our doorstep, I’d actually seen two other programmes about the subject.
This silent killer is finally getting the attention it deserves.
In the year Lan passed, 2012, 4,590 men took their own lives. The latest figures from ONS, NISRA and GRO show that suicide is the single biggest killer of men under the age of 45, but what is the government doing about it? Before my brother took his own life, he mentioned to three separate people that he was suffering with depression and contemplating taking his own life. What did they all recommend? Go see your doctor. And what happened when he plucked up the courage to see the doctor? He was given sleeping pills. My brother didn’t even open the box and was dead 48 hours later.
When a man plucks up the courage to tell a GP he’s suffering from depression and thinking of suicide, he might aswell be turning up with a gun against his head threatening to pull the trigger. It’s stories like my brother’s that motivate my father and me to keep spreading the word, to reach out to society and to communicate the urgency of this epidemic.
From my mum’s terraced 1930’s home in Tottenham to the bright lights of Professor Green’s world, suicide leaves the same devastating effect to those left behind – the questions that will never get answered, the hole that will never be filled, the signs you never saw – that’s why we try to break the silence and get men talking about the biggest taboo of our generation.
Professor Green ‘Suicide and Me’, featuring Giancarlo and his father, aired on BBC3 on 27th October 2015 and can be viewed on iPlayer here. #SuicideAndMe trended on Twitter that night and into the following morning, it was such a powerful film.
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