Shirley Ballas has shared a heartfelt tribute to her late brother on the 16th anniversary of his death. The Strictly Come Dancing judge's older brother David took his own life on 5 December 2003, and Shirley used the sad anniversary as an opportunity to talk about mental health awareness with her 156,000 Instagram followers.
WATCH: See our tour of Shirley Ballas' London home
The 59-year-old said David is in her thoughts "on a daily basis" and she can be reminded of him by anything from a piece of music to spending time with his daughter. "December 5th 2003 will be etched in my memory forever until it's my turn to depart this life. It was that tragic Friday when my brother decided to take his own life. My brother was everything to my mum and I. @rich.audrey… He was a strong character a protector, and we as a family came first. It’s unimaginable to have lost him and he is in our thoughts on a daily basis," Shirley wrote.
Shirley Ballas paid tribute to her brother on the anniversary of his death
The dancer said she has spent years educating herself on the subject of men's mental health since her brother's death, adding: "To all who have lost a loved one my heart is broken for you. To those suffering in silence please seek help. You are not alone. To you my dear brother David you will always be in my heart, I miss you sooo much. RIP precious one." Shirley received messages from her friends and fans following the emotional post, including from her fellow Strictly judge Motsi Mabuse, who posted a heart and folded hands emojis in support of her colleague.
It is not the first time Shirley has opened up about the loss of her brother; in February she climbed Mount Kilimanjaro for Comic Relief in memory of David, and became emotional in a documentary charting the climb as she admitted she often blamed herself for his death.
Shirley climbed Kilimanjaro in memory of her brother
In the film, she said: "My brother took his own life. He was a young man, 44. He was like my brother, my father and my best friend. He was lonely, he felt low, he said he'd got into a dark hole he couldn't get out of. I'd call him on the phone, 'Come on David, you're going to be fine', because I was uneducated, so that's why in some ways I blame myself."
Shirley added: "No note. No goodbye. I can only imagine 16 years ago if my brother would have had somewhere to go and somebody to talk to. I truly believe in my heart today he would still be here. And that's why I'm climbing Kilimanjaro to raise awareness and help put a stop to suicide."
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