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Frightened Rabbit drummer opens up about brother's death

Grant Hutchison, whose frontman brother Scott died in May, spoke to STV News.

The brother of Frightened Rabbit frontman Scott Hutchison has spoken out about the singer's death, calling for greater mental health support to prevent more people from becoming suicide victims.

Grant Hutchison, who was the band's drummer before his brother took his own life in May, also welcomed the Scottish Government's "achievable" new suicide prevention strategy.

However, he added ministers did not "deserve a round of applause" for the plans but instead needed to be held to their "promises".

The government has set the target of reducing suicide rates by 20% by the year 2022, with measures to achieve this including compulsory training on suicide prevention for all NHS staff, reviewing all suicide deaths and launching new awareness campaigns.

Mr Hutchison opened up to STV News about his struggle to understand his brother's death and also the outpouring of grief from around the world in its wake.

The 36-year-old singer's body was found near Port Edgar in South Queensferry on May 10 after being reported missing by his family.

Before that grim discovery, Grant says he was "as positive as I could possibly be".

"But in the back of my mind, I think I knew what had happened," he adds.

Scott's death was followed by a wave of tributes from fans, the music community and public figures.

https://stv.tv/news/east-central/1414757-frightened-rabbit-success-of-scott-hutchison-s-indie-band/ | default

"The support and love came from all over the world and en masse, and on a level that I even was surprised by, having been part of the whole thing, of the band," says drummer Grant.

"That helped me, definitely, to see just how many people Scott had touched and helped.

"But again, on top of that, it frustrated me because in the end, he couldn't help himself."

Grant says he still found it difficult to make sense of Scott's death, despite the fact his brother spoke publicly and wrote songs about his difficulties with mental health.

"I'd never really had anyone close to me pass away... so that for me was a struggle to understand those feelings around that," he says.

"But on top of that, the way it happened, the fact it was suicide, just adds another whole other element to it and yeah, lots of questions - the main one being 'why?'

"It just doesn't and didn't make sense to me that someone would do that, and that's me knowing and having seen how much Scott suffered.

"It wasn't necessarily a shocker, a surprise, that this is how it ended, but it certainly still made very little sense to me."

Grant added: "One thing, when I read articles about Scott, people mention the young age of 36.

"And yes, that's terribly young for that to happen, but at the same time, Scott wrote a song about suicide 12 years before that, so it must have been a long 12 years of suffering and pain that I don't think he should have had to have gone through."

'Even the fact this strategy took two years to come about - that's a joke. In that time, over 1000 people in Scotland took their own lives.'
Grant Hutchison

He feels that mental health support at all levels - for both people at risk of suicide and people bereaved by suicide - remains inadequate.

"After Scott died, there was no obvious way or route to go, or person to speak to, or number to call," he recalls.

"We've used Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide (SOBS), which is a charity; Cruse, which again is a bereavement charity.

"But there was no official route to go down apart from going to my GP, who essentially just asked if I had the support from friends and family around me, which I do, but the problem with that is that they're all going through the same thing."

Grant continues: "I certainly don't want to talk ill of GPs - I'm not saying they're not doing their job.

"But that's another thing that was a good point in the strategy: more mental health training and making it mandatory for NHS staff.

"I actually couldn't believe that that wasn't a thing already, if I'm honest."

While Scott's status as a high-profile and beloved musician led to high levels of support for his family from the public after his death, Grant says many other bereaved families are being left forgotten.

"In the time that it took between Scott going missing and us finding him, going by the statistics of suicide rates in Scotland, five, six other people had done it," he says.

"They didn't get that support. They didn't have thousands of people tweeting them. They didn't have offers of people setting up Just Giving pages for their family.

"It's those people that really need help... and also, those five or six people who took their own lives, again, who was there for them in the lead-up to it?"

The Scottish Government's new suicide prevention strategy could go some way towards fixing these issues, he believes - but only if the public applies pressure to politicians on the issue.

https://stv.tv/news/politics/1426524-suicide-prevention-plan-aims-to-reduce-death-rate-by-20/ | default

"It would be a struggle to find someone who thinks (the strategy is) a bad thing," says Grant.

"I think rather than calling it ambitious, I would describe it more as achievable... everything that's in there can and should be done."

He continues: "These aren't announcements, they're promises. So let's come back in four years and ten years and see if it's been done.

"I don't think the government deserve a round of applause or a pat on the back for saying 'we're going to do this'.

"Now is the point for us - everyone, I mean - to put the pressure on for them to do it. Don't just read this strategy and go: 'Oh, cool, they're doing this.'

"That's not what that is - that's a promise to do it and we need to make sure that they do and that the targets that they've set, which I don't think are particularly ambitious but are achievable, are met.

"And if they're not, then we need to make some noise about that."

'Something - a dream, or I see a photo, or I hear a song - can just turn the day.'
Grant Hutchison

Grant also questions the length of time it took to produce the new plans.

"Even the fact this strategy took two years to come about - that's a joke," he says.

"In that time, over 1000 people in Scotland took their own lives.

"What are you sitting on for two years that you can't get some kind of plan of action together for something that's taking that many people's lives every year?"

With Scott's death still so fresh for Grant and the rest of his family, he admits not knowing day-to-day how he is going to feel.

"Something - a dream, or I see a photo, or I hear a song - can just turn the day," he describes.

"But the main thing is the great, great set of friends I've got that have really just been there, no questions."

To some extent, he remembers Scott as the rest of the world does - as a frontman and as one of Scotland's foremost songwriters.

But "as a brother is how I really want to remember him", he says, and as an uncle to their brother Neil's children.

"That's when it gets really hard, to think about that," he adds.

"Because if the band had just ended, fine, that wouldn't be the same huge loss."

He describes a tribute event in Scott's honour at Belladrum music festival earlier this summer where he heard his brother's voice speaking in a video.

https://stv.tv/news/entertainment/1421828-tribute-to-frightened-rabbit-s-scott-hutchison-planned/ | default

"That really got me, because it wasn't the singer," he says.

"Also, me seeing him on tour, going on stage, that was almost a different person on that stage. For an hour and a half, he could switch that on.

"Not in a way that he was disconnected from it but it's certainly not the same person as in the dressing room or on the bus, who I would call my brother.

"So I try and remember as many memories of him as a brother, us being at home or us going to shows together - not as the band."

And any revival of the beloved band, Grant says, is very far away on the horizon indeed.

"In terms of going back to Frightened Rabbit, that terrifies me at the moment," he says.

"We do have some songs and some demos that were being worked on, but that's not for just now. It's too soon to be doing that.

"But I'm a drummer," Grant adds.

"That's what I do. I don't know how to do anything else."

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