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‘I was living in hell’: The harrowing torment of Will Young’s twin Rupert and the demons he battled

Born just ten minutes apart, singer Will Young and his twin Rupert were brothers who looked and sounded almost exactly the same.

But while Will was adored by millions two years after his Pop Idol success, Rupert was battling his own demons plunged so deep in depression he was homeless on the streets drinking with tramps.

His self-harming and alcoholism had become so serious he could not wear short sleeved tops without revealing his self-inflicted cuts and burns.

And in a serious of brave interviews he carried out about his mental health he admitted attempting to take his own life, laying bare his torment from mental health challenges.

His family believed he had turned the corner and had lived with them during lockdown in their Berkshire home, even offering elderly neighbours help to get groceries. 

It made his death this week – the cause of which has not been disclosed – all the more devastating. 

Rupert had said problems had started when he started drinking when he was just 14 after he and Will were sent to boarding school.

He was thought of as the ‘the bad one’ and struggled at £13,260-a-term Wellington College in Berkshire.

He and Will’s father is engineering company director Robin and they grew up in a wealthy area of Wokingham, Berkshire with mother Annabel and sister Emma.

Rupert’s self-harming had started when he was just 13 and carried on for a further ten years.

He said in 2008: ‘When Will and I were at boarding school my identity was ‘the bad one’. And that continued until I was 25.

‘I would wind up the teachers and I was told in return that I was not a good person. ‘As a child I believed that and I internalised it,’ he added to The Times.

As Will beat Gareth Gates on the first run of Pop Idol, Rupert was rushed to hospital after being found bleeding at the bottom of a flats stairwell.

He kept it secret from his family but it would be start of a descent into the most troubled spell of his all-too-short life.

Rupert said: ‘Pop Idol was a great diversion. I could watch William get through each round of the show on Saturday nights and have a party.

‘I was so proud, and I was constantly in a party mood. But while everyone else sobered up and went back to work, I carried on all week. And I’d turn up at his gigs drunk and behave like a child, which was really hard for him.’

Rupert had found the comparison with his brother difficult, admitting at school teachers had used him as measuring stick against his own behaviour.

He said: ‘At boarding school I was always being compared to my brother. Looking back, my teachers could have been a bit more positive. I got into a situation where an older teacher used to regularly beat me up.

‘I was living on the streets two years after Will had won Pop Idol, drinking with tramps.

‘I was living in hell. My life, in my mind, was not worth living,’ he told BBC Berkshire.

His twin brother, their parents Robin and Annabel had attempted to practice tough love with him to try and help him help himself out of his despair.

And the difference between the two brothers was laid bare as they glimpsed one another as Will chanced upon him driving on his way to an awards ceremony.

As he passed the train station he saw Rupert there, clear that he had been drinking all day.

Will said: ‘I knew I had to leave him alone. That was tough, of course it was, but you have to get on. And in that respect being so involved in work was a great thing.’

‘It’s very tough having a family member who is an addict. But when you’re dealing with that you eventually have to just stop and look after yourself. Me, my parents, my older sister, everyone. We all just had to walk away. We had to leave him.’

In 2004 Rupert found himself before a judge at Middlesex Guildhall Crown Court, accused of assaulting a chef in London’s West End.

He revealed his well-known brother had led to him being attacked over his fame.

Rupert told the jury: ‘At times I have been called gay and shouted at by builders.

‘In fact, myself and Will were attacked in a club once.

‘We as a family all try and stay positive.

‘But there are times when members of the general public seem to act in a strange way around him or myself.’

At times I have been called gay and shouted at by builders,’ he told Middlesex Guildhall Crown Court.

‘In fact, myself and Will were attacked in a club once.’

He was cleared off any wrongdoing but it appeared to be the catalyst for a change in his outlook on life.

He estimated his parents had spent some £120,000 on trying to help him get better and he even had been sectioned at one point.

In summer of 2005 he went to the Sierra Tucson treatment centre in the Arizona desert where it was discovered his experience at school had caused his depression.

He was diagnosed with dysthymia, the name if a type of depression that is caused by a trauma.

Finding out what had made him feel so desperate spurred him on to help others.

He set up the Mood Foundation charity to help people over 18 find help if they needed it, without the costs of treatment.

Rupert also conducted a series of interviews about his mental health battles in an attempt to help others.

It had seemed he had finally managed to keep his demons at bay after a troubled start to his life.

Last year a snap posted his social media page showed him with all of his family smiling happily.

And in the weeks leading up to his death he had offered to help neighbours at his parents’ home during lockdown. 

Local Peter Cox, 78, told MailOnline: ‘He with his family for a long time, I’ve only been here three years and they had been here a lot longer than that.

‘We say hello if we meet each other in the street, Rupert was a nice friendly chap. When Covid started he said he would help out if I needed it with my shopping and everything but fortunately I could do it myself.’ 

A family friend told The Sun yesterday: ‘Will’s relationship with Rupert had been tough over the years at times, and they had both spoken about the mental health problems which had made it challenging.

‘But there were hopes he had turned a corner and they are a very loving family – and utterly devastated by his passing.’

And the final public picture of the two brothers was posted by Will himself on his Instagram page, showing them fooling around listening to music.

One associate who had met both twins said he would be in agony after his death.

They said: ‘Rupert fought his demons, Will must be in hell right now.’

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