Professor Green 'can't watch' suicide documentary

By Mark Savage
Music reporter

image copyrightBBC / Antidote
image captionProfessor Green: "If we don't talk about our feelings, we lose control of them"

Rap star Professor Green says he cannot bear to watch a documentary he has made for the BBC about his father's suicide.

Suicide and Me, which airs on Tuesday, sees the musician explore the circumstances of his father's death seven years ago, at the age of 43.

He makes several surprising discoveries about his family, and confronts the fear that he may have been left with suicidal tendencies of his own.

But "I've never seen the documentary to the end," he told BBC News.

"I find it really difficult," he added. "The pain is indescribable."

The 60-minute documentary is as thought-provoking as it is emotional, as the star, whose real name is Stephen Manderson, investigates why suicide has become the biggest cause of death for men under 45.

Almost 5,000 men killed themselves in the UK last year, and rate of suicide amongst men is more than three times higher than women.

media captionProfessor Green: 'I'm entitled to cry'

In the BBC Three film, Manderson asks why men are so adversely affected - and looks at some of the services in place to help suicidal people.

"I went into the film quite naively," he said. "I thought it was about helping others and, for that reason, I was fine with it. But as we got into it, I encountered things I didn't expect to, or hadn't given enough thought to.

"I didn't think I was going to be finding out things about my father's passing for the first time - which was obviously quite hard to deal with, as is evident from the programme."

In some of the documentary's most moving scenes, the 31-year-old talks to his aunt and his maternal grandmother (who raised him) about being abandoned by his father, Peter, as a child, and the months leading up to his suicide.

"It was the first time my grandmother and me even talked about it," he said.

"I think that's how most people get on with things. Life's busy. There's so much happening in front of you, you tend not to deal with what's behind you, without realising the burden that puts on you."

The rapper is frequently in tears during the documentary, and says that putting those moments on screen frightened him.

"People are going to see me at my most vulnerable, and my lowest, and that's what I was scared about," he explained. "But that is the problem in itself. That problem wouldn't be there if I felt it was okay to show how I feel."

image copyrightBBC / Antidote
image captionManderson was raised by his grandmother, and did not see his father for years at a time as a child

After speaking to several of his father's acquaintances, all of whom expressed bewilderment at Peter's suicide, Manderson says he learned that people should never feel intimidated about confronting their friends.

"A big part of depression is feeling alone," he said. "As friends, the onus is on you to bring things up.

"You should ask the questions. Maybe not 'do you feel suicidal?' It doesn't have to be that extreme. But sometimes when we say, 'how are you?' people just say, 'yeah, I'm alright'.

"It's the most common lie we tell, every day. But sometimes you actually need to pull someone up and go, 'no, really, are you alright?'"

"And just probing people - not to the point where it's invasive - but giving people the option to talk if they want to. It's the questions you're most scared to ask that you probably should.

"Sometimes you do that and you almost hear a sigh of relief. A lot of their issues come out because they all of a sudden feel okay to talk about things."

The star has previously called for mental health awareness to be taught in schools in an effort to tackle taboos around the subject.

image captionThe star said music had been an "outlet" as he dealt with depression

Manderson, whose hit song Read All About It dealt with his father's death, said he had been "fortunate" to have music in his life.

"Before it became an outlet, music was something that gave me comfort," he said, adding that, after completing both the documentary and his autobiography this year, he was planning to head back into the studio.

"I think there's been a huge breath out this year," he said. "I've given an awful, awful lot of myself. It's time to take a step back now and take a breath in and focus on what I enjoy and what makes me happy - which is being in the studio and getting some new music out."

He added: "The last couple of hits I've had have been quite serious. I want to get back into the fun side of things."

He said his new material would revive the cartoonish persona of his earlier hits - Need You Tonight and Just Be Good To Green, which sampled INXS's Need You Tonight and the SOS Band's Just Be Good To Me respectively.

"I've got something in the pipeline that doesn't feature a sample, but is in that vein. And that'll be out early next year," he said.

Suicide and Me will be on BBC Three at 21:00 GMT on Tuesday, 27 October.

If you have been affected by the issues in this story, you can call the Samaritans on 116 123; phone Calm on 0800 58 58 58; or find support online.

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