Actor flies into Twitter storm over ex-Leeds United footballer’s suicide bid

Clarke Carlisle. PIC: Ross Parry
Clarke Carlisle. PIC: Ross Parry
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A man whose brother killed himself has accused Royle Family star Ralf Little of “stigmatising” depression for comments he made about footballer Clarke Carlisle.

The actor sparked a Twitter storm after he said Carlisle was going to “get away with it again” after the footballer revealed his battle with depression and suicide bid.

In an interview with The Sun, Carlisle told how he felt he “had to die” after being charged with drink driving on December 20. He walked in front of a lorry days before Christmas.

But Little, 34, tweeted a long piece criticising his former friend for allegedly drink driving and “repeatedly” ruining other peoples’ lives.

His comments were branded insensitive on Twitter.

Among the critics was Jonny Gabriel, who told how his brother killed himself the day before Carlisle tried to take his life.

In an open letter to the actor, he wrote: “Mental health, depression and suicide still have a strong stigma surrounding them; your post and tweets only seek to reinforce that on the impressionable.

“Please educate yourself, please know that others shouldn’t feel too ashamed or proud to seek help.”

Mr Gabriel said Carlisle should be understood as a man who had fallen “into a deep hole” of depression.

Drawing from his personal experience, he added: “I am not an expert on mental health, depression or suicide either.

“However, the day before Clarke Carlisle’s attempt on his own life my older brother took his own life. I do not know the reasons, he didn’t leave a note, and I do not know the method, I haven’t been brave enough to ask.

“What I do think I know, though, is that for a split second my brother and Clarke Carlisle were both in a difficult place - a place they saw no escape from other than through taking their own lives.

“Thankfully for Clarke Carlisle’s family, his friends and his loved ones, he is still here today. Sadly I cannot say the same of my brother.”

The message was retweeted by Little.

Carlisle, 35, told The Sun how he spiralled into a deep depression last December after finding out he was losing his ITV pundit job.

The same day he went on a gambling spree and hours later was charged with a drink-driving offence of failing to provide a sample.

He threw himself in front of a lorry days later. He escaped with cuts, cruises and a broken rib and was admitted as an in-patient at a psychiatric unit on Christmas Day.

He told The Sun: “I ventured out of my room not as Clarke the ex-footballer, but as Clarke, a mental health patient. That was the first step in my road to recovery.”

Mental health charities praised the footballer’s “brave” decision to speak out and said they hoped he would inspire others to seek help.

Paul Farmer, chief executive of the charity Mind, which Carlisle is an ambassador for, said: “We all wish Clarke the very best with his recovery and hope he and his family get all the support they need.

“We would urge anyone who is experiencing the pain and distress of suicidal feelings to try and speak to somebody, be that a friend or family member, their GP or a charity like Mind or Samaritans.”

He added: “By speaking so openly about his depression and battle with suicidal thoughts we hope Clarke encourages others who may be struggling to seek help.”

The Samaritans said: “It takes a lot of strength to raise these issues. We commend him for being so brave and speaking so openly about the feelings which led him to try to take his own life.

“Because he has spoken out, we hope others will feel able to share their own feelings if they are struggling to cope and crucially, ask for help.”

The Samaritans can be contacted by phone on 08457 90 90 90.