Strictly’s Shirley Ballas’ heartbreaking plea after brother’s tragic death

Strictly Come Dancing head judge Shirley Ballas knows what it’s like to lose a loved one to suicide and wants to help anyone suffering with dark thoughts.

The dance expert’s brother David took his own life in 2003 and in his honour, Shirley focuses her charity work on mental health.

This year Shirley did a Skyathlon – zip line, wing walk and skydive – for CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably), which was no small feat as she’s scared of heights. She is hoping to top that effort in 2024. “My New Year’s resolution is always to keep forging forward with all my charity work, it’s actually one of my top priorities,” she says.

“My brother died by suicide in 2003, so CALM is a huge charity for me. It’s important running up to Christmas for anyone who’s lonely to reach out. CALM can intervene if you want or they can just listen if you want. They’re there for you and I’ve met all the people in charge and it really is truly fantastic.

“I’m also starting to work with the Suicide&Co charity, who provide counselling sessions for families and friends who have lost loved ones to suicide. Amelia and Emma, its CEOs, are truly inspirational young ladies.”

Shirley wants anyone struggling to reach out and has a message for those in need.

“The message from me to anybody who’s struggling, is that, ‘It would be lovely to see tomorrow, because tomorrow can be a bright day if you have somebody really listening to you,’” says Shirley.

Shirley also plans to prioritise looking after her own happiness and mental health next year, which will require a change of habit. “I want to try to spend a little bit more time for me,” she reveals. “The majority of the time I’m everywhere else for everybody else, so I’d like a little bit more me time. I want to be happy within myself, which is a little struggle for me.

“At the same time, I have my mum living with me at 86 so I want to make sure that she’s happy and that we’re both having a ball together – and then I want to spend time with my grandbaby!”

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