Big Brother winner Anthony Hutton opens up about fall from fame and fortune to contemplating suicide

Katie Cole joins 2005 Big Brother winner Anthony Hutton as he hosts a men's health retreat as part of a project to reduce the North East's high suicide rate

No one knows better the fall from fame and fortune than Anthony Hutton.

The former reality TV star won Channel 4's Big Brother in 2005 at the age of 23.

With the winnings and a magazine deal, he made £250,000 overnight.

However, life in the spotlight faded and the money fizzled, no thanks to the help of drink and drugs.

Speaking to ITV Tyne Tees, Anthony, from County Durham, said things became so dark he even contemplated taking his own life.

Anthony Hutton rose to fame in the Big Brother series of 2005 which he went on to win. Credit: PA

"When I was in a dark place and I basically started having passive suicidal thoughts on a daily basis where I was basically, like, thinking about ending things," he said.

"I turned to drugs and to alcohol for escapism. There's a saying suicide is a permanent solution for a temporary feeling.

"And I'm proof that you can get through it if you implement the right things."

The 41 year-old is now a barber and it was the difference he saw from chatting to his customers that led to him setting up a project aimed at trying to reduce male suicides.

The North East has the UK's highest male suicide rate in the UK, but Anthony hopes Never Throw In The Towel will have some impact on bringing it down.

Men take part in an early morning workout as part of the Never Throw In The Towel project. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

As part of the project, he shares his story where he can and even holds free men's mental health retreats.

Speaking at Kip and Nook in Darlington during an early morning workout, Anthony said: "It made me realise and see how a lot of men struggle. The aim of the project is to build a culture, build a community, to help men talk more.

"One of the best medicines is nature, exercise, talking. All of these things are a good way to fight back at this problem."

Another source of inspiration for Anthony is his little boy Cruz. He wants him to  grow up in a world where being open about your mental health is seen as a strength and not a weakness.

Anthony Hutton's little boy Cruz is another source of inspiration for his project. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Aimed at all ages, the project is something he is spreading the word about across the country at events and talks, including recently at a wellbeing day at Newcastle College.

Some of these events have been organised by former Byker Grove actress Holly Matthews.

She said: "He is so  endearing when he speaks and, you know, no airs and graces. It just is what it is. And I think that's what makes Anthony really relatable.

"Every man in the room after walked up to him, hugged him, said thank you for telling my story and from that, I think for Anthony, it was the, to recognise the power of that, the power of telling your story."

Anthonys project is in its early days but, with the support of friends, they have big plans.

Are you or someone you know struggling with your mental health?

Find advice and support for children and young people here:

Where children can find mental health help in the North East and North Yorkshire

Find general advice and support for anyone struggling with their mental health here:

Mental health: Where to find help in the North East if you are struggling

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