Shirley Ballas says moment she found out brother had died is forever etched

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Strictly Come Dancing head judge Shirley Ballas tragically lost her brother David Rich to suicide 20 years ago.

Speaking to, Shirley, 62, explained that David had struggled with depression and took his own life aged just 44.

Recalling the events prior to his death, Shirley said: “He was in a terrible place. One incident in particular which stands out was when my mum took him to the hospital.

“They pulled up, and he knew somebody who was standing on the step. He made us turn the car around and he wouldn’t go back.

“Then they gave him these tablets to take and after he died, I read the small print and it said they may escalate feelings of suicide, which it did.”

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One day, Shirley’s mother left David in Merseyside to watch her grandson Mark, now 37, perform in London.

Sadly, that was the day that David took his own life.

Detailing the moment she found out the earth-shattering news, Shirley said: “When David died, I still remember I’d let my son stay out for the first time ever and the door went at 6am.

“Me and Mum came down the stairs, the police came in and they said, ‘Mrs Rich’. I stepped aside and Mum moved forward, it was her son.

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“That will forever be etched in my mind.”

The dancer shared that the horrendous moment made her realise: “Material things mean nothing…nothing is more important than your loved ones, I’d rather live in a box and have my brother with me.”

Devastatingly, Shirley’s heartbreak has not ended there and she has lost more loved ones to suicide.

Most recently, a student of hers, who was just 38, took her own life. Shirley was also friendly with The Ellen Show’s Stephen ‘tWitch’ Boss, who died last year.

Shirley, who is a proud CALM ambassador, is now taking on a trio of huge challenges to raise funds for the suicide prevention charity.

Despite her fear of heights, she will be taking on the world’s fastest zipline, a wing walk and a skydive all in one week.

She is also inviting two people to join her on her skydive across Peterborough. To join her, simply text the word SKYDIVE to 70215 to donate a suggested £5 and be entered into a prize draw. Check out the full prize details here.

You can also donate to the cause here.

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