Prince of Wales: Don’t be afraid to say ‘suicide’ out loud to beat mental health stigma
The Prince of Wales has urged people not to be afraid of saying the word “suicide” out loud in the conversation about mental health.
Roman Kemp, the Capital FM presenter and champion of the Princess of Wales’s Shaping Us early years campaign, said he discussed the issue with William last week.
He told The Telegraph: “I saw the Prince of Wales at the launch [of Shaping Us] the other day, and he said to me: ‘It’s just so great and so important that you say the word ‘suicide’ out loud’.
“I was shocked that he said that. But he’s so right, and that’s what I’ve been trying to push. So to hear that from him was really great.”
The Prince has been a long-time campaigner for men’s mental health and suicide prevention, and has spoken about how his time as an air ambulance pilot made him grasp the scale of the issue.
Mental health has been at the forefront of the Prince and Princess of Wales’s working lives for several years. In 2016, they launched the Heads Together campaign with the Duke of Sussex to tackle the stigma surrounding the conversation.
Speaking to The Telegraph, Kemp said that it makes him “very proud of the Royal family” to be able to have those discussions about the importance of mental health with them.
Earlier this week, he was announced as one of the celebrity “champions” of the Princess’s new campaign to raise awareness about the critical importance of the first five years of a child’s life.
Kemp has been a vocal mental health advocate since the suicide of Joe Lyons, his best friend, in 2020 and has released a BBC documentary about the suicide crisis affecting young men.
The 30-year-old radio host said: “I want to champion this cause to my audience of people that have been following the work that I’ve been doing.
“It almost feels like more of an Avengers-type style thing, teaming up with different people… it’s pretty special.”
He added that the cause was very much a “part of his life”, saying that the suicide prevention campaigning “isn’t a job” for him.
“I’m attached to the word suicide for the rest of my life. I’m attached to the phrase of mental health for the rest of my life,” he said.
“So while there’s a cause, I’m going to be a part of it for sure.”
Kemp described the role of championing the campaign as “being able to back that corner” and engage with their own respective audiences about it.
He added that owing to his platform and previous campaigning, “there’s a lot of younger lads that I’m able to reach that maybe the Princess wasn’t, so hopefully it’s a cross-collaboration”.
The other champions include Leah Williamson, the captain of the England women’s football team; Professor Green and Jax Jones, the singers; Fearne Cotton and Zara McDermott, the television personalities; Ugo Monye, the former England rugby star; and Giovanna Fletcher, the podcaster and author.
Their role is to help spread the message to their audiences and generate awareness, particularly among the younger generation.
Kemp said they were approached because of their interest in the issues of mental health and early years and their previous campaigning.
“It’s not a bunch of influencers. It’s people that have been there and have been through it,” he said.
“For example, people are well aware of the things that Professor Green has been through over the years, his own dealing with mental health and suicide, and [the] same with Zara McDermott.
“And Giovanna Fletcher being a mother and, you know, the same with Fearne being in mental health… it’s all people that have built that kind of trust with their audience.”
A video of him discussing parenthood, mental health and the importance of early years with the Princess was released on Friday morning.
It forms part of her lifelong public awareness campaign to elevate the status of early years and Shaping Us marks the first major project from The Royal Foundation’s Centre for Early Childhood, which the Princess launched in 2021.
Kemp said: “When you speak about this to either the Princess or the Prince, this isn’t something that has been put in front of them and told ‘Oh, you should do this to reach a younger audience’.
“They’re really passionate about it. They really are. And they can hold up a big conversation about this.”