A Coronation Street actor has urged people having suicidal thoughts to “talk about it and share it” after his “free spirit” older sister took her own life on New Year’s Eve 12 years ago.
Oliver Devoti, 36, was compelled to speak out about mental health issues after coming to terms with his own suicidal feelings, and recalled the moment he discovered his sister, Amelia, dead at her home less than an hour after he had last seen her alive.
Mr Devoti said 26-year-old Amelia was a “social butterfly” who would “take in waifs and strays”.
But he said she also suffered tragedy throughout her life – her father died on her 18th birthday, while the death of her beloved dog, Sam, may have been a “final tipping point”, her brother said.
Mr Devoti told the PA news agency: “We knew that she was fragile but just felt helpless to do anything about it.
“You always think ‘What if, what if, what if?’
“But it negatively impacts your mental health, you’re not going to be able to live your life. You can’t change the past.
“I’ve been through that cycle and it’s not helped me in any shape or form.”
Describing the tragedy, Mr Devoti said he, his partner and his baby son were having “a quiet evening in” with Amelia on December 31 2008, but that after an intense 20-minute playtime with her baby nephew, she asked to be left alone to listen to music in her living room.
He said: “My son was down to sleep in the spare room and we said to Amelia we are going to go out for a 15-minute walk.
“We walked around the block, we didn’t even go into the living room because she wanted to be left alone.
“We checked on my son, everything was fine, so we just sat back down in the hallway.
“Then the music went off – and it was not like her to let the music go off.
“Five or six minutes later the music was still off, we thought this was strange because she would not sit there in silence.”
Mr Devoti said he opened the door and found his sister hanging.
Former soldier Mr Devoti got his sister down and started resuscitation while his partner called for an ambulance, but Amelia was pronounced dead later.
He said he wants those suffering to reach out to family members and loved ones.
“Talk about it and share it,” the actor, from Newcastle, said.
“Ask for help and don’t be too scared to.
“You can’t deal with everything yourself and Amelia’s life is evidence of that.
“She didn’t want to burden other people, she didn’t want us to carry the weight of her neuroses, and she ultimately couldn’t deal with her own.”
He added: “You need to communicate it – if no-one knows what you’re going through, no-one can help.”
The Birmingham-born actor celebrated one of his biggest roles to date in December after arriving on Coronation Street as Lee, the boyfriend of new Weatherfield regular Daisy Midgeley, and has also had roles in the likes of Game Of Thrones and BBC drama Bodyguard.
But he said he “often” has suicidal thoughts, which he has previously kept to himself.
“I get self-worth problems all the time,” he said, “imposter syndrome and doubt, but telling people about that makes people go: ‘Are you serious?’
“We all have those feelings, but it’s talking about it on a day-to-day basis (that makes a difference).”
Mr Devoti recently lent his support to suicide-prevention charity Papyrus, which produced a short film entitled Unfinished Plans to highlight awareness of young suicide.
Papyrus chief executive Ged Flynn said: “Tragically, Ollie’s own family has been bereaved by suicide and the death of his sister is a deeply personal and powerful story of loss and grief.
“By sharing his story we hope it will encourage others to talk openly and help to break down the stigma around suicide.
“At Papyrus, we believe many suicides can be prevented. If you are struggling with life, or you are worried about someone who may be having thoughts of suicide, help is available.”
For confidential suicide prevention help and advice, contact the Papyrus HopelineUK on 0800 068 4141, text 07860 039967 or email email@example.com.