Singer Will Young has spoken candidly about the pain of losing twin brother Rupert to suicide in 2020, after two decades of his sibling’s alcoholism.
Speaking to BBC One’s Breakfast on Friday, he said: “I miss my brother, he was my twin and my best friend, but I don’t miss the alcoholic.”
He also described caring for Rupert alongside a “woefully underfunded” NHS.
Young explores the “complex” realities of his family’s experience in a Channel 4 documentary to be screened next week.
In the Breakfast interview, he told the BBC’s Colin Paterson: “I don’t think alcoholism is spoken about enough and it is important to speak out about what it is like to live with someone who has alcoholism in the family, and what that can do to a family.
“We are a very private family but we were all on the same page about wanting to tell our story in a non-sensationalised way to show people that they are not alone.”
Young’s brother’s alcoholism was an issue the family dealt with throughout the two decades that he himself found fame, following his victory on Pop Idol in February 2002.
Rupert lived with his famous brother for four years from 2016 up until he took his own life aged 41.
Discussing in graphic detail the difficulties of caring for his brother towards the end of his life, Young said he would often have to clear up “sick, urine and faeces” in the mornings.
“It was difficult, but it is amazing what we do out of love for people. I just didn’t want my brother to die. In the end I didn’t manage to keep him alive, and that is part of my grief process.”
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The singer said one of the biggest care struggles had been navigating and accessing NHS support for his brother, which he described as “woefully underfunded”.
He said that his brother was brought into hospital three days before he died after threatening a suicide attempt in public.
Young said: “He wasn’t even seen by an assistant psychiatrist, and he left, and he killed himself. And I have heard this [type of] story so many times.”
“Feeling suicidal is not deemed strong enough to be sectioned. That seems extraordinary to me”, added the star, echoing previous remarks he made at the inquest into his brother’s suicide.
In response, a statement from the Department of Health and Social Care told the BBC that “improving access to mental health care is a top priority” and said the government will be investing an additional £2.3bn a year into services by next year.
Asked what advice he would give families in the same situation, Young said it was important to remember grief will “find its way through the rocks”, adding “there is no set way to grieve”.
Young also admitted he had struggled with the fact the last time he saw his brother had ended in an altercation, but that therapy had helped him work through the emotions.
“But it’s a thing that one has to sit with – and trust that it will find its way out.”
He said he hoped the forthcoming documentary – which he said had made him remember what an “amazing” person his brother was – would help “get rid of the shame around grief”.
“It occurred to me when Rupert passed that there could be five people on my street who are either alcoholics or dealing with alcoholics that I don’t even know, so I think it’s important for me to share that story [for them]”.
Young added that he hoped the documentary will act as a “legacy” for Rupert and the work he did to raise mental health awareness when he was alive.
“I know it is something he would truly sanction,” he said of his brother.
Will Young: Losing my Twin Rupert is on Channel 4 at 10pm on Tuesday 10 May
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