Rio Ferdinand 'understands' how people are driven to suicide following wife's death

Jack Austin
Rio Ferdinand with his late wife Rebecca at Manchester United's annual club awards event in 2013: PA

Rio Ferdinand has admitted he can understand why people are driven towards suicide following the death of his wife in 2015.

The former Manchester United and England defender lost his wife Rebecca, whom he married in 2009, to breast cancer two years ago.

He admitted he would previously find suicide “selfish” and would judge people for it but revealed he now sees how people can get that low, despite never considering it himself.

“When you come into this situation you understand suicide, you understand people who do that and have those thoughts,” he told BBC 5Live.

“I didn't think about it myself but I understand now how people get to that situation.

“I can't judge people like that now, whereas before I'd be sitting there, probably with Rebecca, saying that guy is so ignorant and selfish how has he just done that - left three beautiful kids.

“Now I could say I understand how he got to that point. I wouldn't do it, but I understand how he's there. You do get to those levels - and so it's a work-in-progress.”

Ferdinand also revealed his children would refuse to talk about the death of their mother and said they would “shut me down” when he tried to see how they were feeling.

He said he did not know the best way to talk to his three children, now aged 10, eight and five.

“At the beginning I'd sit and think how am I ever going to be happy?” he said.

“I can't see a point where I'm ever going to be able to smile, because I can get happy over here, but then I look at my children - and that brings you right back into sadness again because they haven't got a mum.

“I didn't know any techniques to speak to the children. I didn't know what buttons to push.

“I'd been starting conversations with them to try and get how they were feeling out, and they would just shut me down, walk away, close the conversation down completely.”

The defender with his three children at his testimonial match (Getty)

In the BBC One programme set to be aired on Tuesday evening, the 38-year-old started a memory jar for the family, which allowed the children to talk about their happiest memories from when their mother was alive.

He said: “It kind of opened everything up and it was a beautiful moment just seeing them talk happily and being joyful about their mum rather than it being sad and negative moments.

“It switched it from dark to bright.”

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