Zoë Ball tried to save Billy Yates as two previous suicide attempts are revealed

Zoe Ball

by Emma Dodds |
Published on

WARNING: This article contains information about suicide that some readers may wish to avoid

An inquest into the death of Billy Yates, Zoë Ball's former boyfriend, has discovered that the cameraman had attempted to take his life twice before.

Billy, who was 40 at the time of his death, was found dead in his flat in South London last May by a friend who went to check on him.

It was known to his friends and family that he was suffering from depression, and that he was going through financial struggles, but the previous two suicide attempts have not been public knowledge until now.

The inquest, held at Westminster Coroner's Court, heard that Mr Yates was happy in his "beautiful relationship" with Zoë, and that they were "the love of each others' life."

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However, the former Royal Marine was reported to have had concerns over a large tax bill, and first attempted to take his life in November 2016.

It was also revealed at the inquest that desperate Zoë had paid for a two-week stay at The Priory Hospital where his mental health began to improve, and also paid for private therapists to help him.

They also took a holiday to Goa in India together just after Christmas, something Billy told doctors he was excited about.

However, a few months after his stay in The Priory, Billy attempted to take his life again, calling the NHS crisis number the next day - but did not follow their guidelines to take himself to A&E.

Billy, who had been sober since August 2016, had attended an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting two days before his death, and he apparently seemed friendly and happy.

But on 4 May he began to drink heavily, and took his own life.

The coroner said that she could not be certain that his death was not a drunken, impulsive act and so returned an open verdict.

Coroner Shirley Radcliffe said: "He was admitted to The Priory and he was still having suicidal thoughts and he was started on different anti-depressants and mood stabilisers and made good progress.

"His private therapist said he was seen to be in a good place and his relationship was going well but financial difficulties were still hanging over his head.

"Alcohol can exacerbate depression and he has previously described himself as impulsive.

"Taking into account the level of alcohol and the fact that he had not used it for some time make it difficult for me to be sure it was intended. Therefore I will record an open conclusion."

Priory consultant psychiatrist Dr Barbara Rooney said: "He was feeling low, but looking forward to Christmas and had planned to go to Goa with his girlfriend at the beginning of January.

"He had been seen by his GP and wished to be referred back to NHS psychologists as he did not want his treatment to be paid for by his girlfriend."

Dr Rooney spoke about when she bumped into him as he attended his regular AA meeting at The Priory: "He seemed good actually, he was cycling on his bike and he waved at me.

"The most important thing to him was the relationship that was going well."

Billy was found in his flat by his friend of 15 years, Brad Abbotts, who said: "We kept in regular contact and I am aware that in the last five years Billy suffered depression and it got so bad that he tried to crash his car.

"It was a cry that he needed help. He received treatment for his injuries and he was admitted to The Priory where he was for two weeks on a voluntary basis.

"I received a text from a friend asking if I had heard from Billy. I left Cobham just before 6pm to check on his welfare and got there at about 6.30pm.

"I went up the stairs and I knocked on the door and there was no answer, I pushed against the door and it opened.

"Straight away I saw Billy."

Billy's family also wrote a statement, which was read out: "William was known and loved by a great number of people and was a sweetheart to many.

"Working in TV, cast and crew knew that if Billy was on the job they would be having a good time.

"That was where Billy met Zoë. They had a friendship and beautiful relationship, they were the love of each others' life.

"William lived his life in something of a whirlwind. William's life, although too short, was filled with absolute individualism.

"He suffered greatly from depression which plagued him on and off for years, but life became too much for him."

If you have been affected by this article, please contact the Samaritans.****


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