Rick Stein says he has finally come to terms with his father’s abrupt suicide at the age of 58.
The celebrity chef was 17-years old when dad Eric, who struggled with bi-polar disorder, leaped to his death from a clifftop close to the family’s holiday home on the Cornish coast.
Now 73, Stein insists he has finally forgiven him for instigating his own violent death an the subsequent anguish it caused.
Opening up: Rick Stein says he has finally come to terms with his father’s abrupt suicide at the age of 58
He told Radio Times: ‘My father died towards the end of November, but I didn’t associate Cornwall with gloom and death – it was a place for holidays.
‘The suicide of a parent is a kick in the teeth. But I have to say that latterly – and I never would have believed this – I’m much more aware of my father’s positive side.
‘The older I get, the more I want to be like him. My dad was called Eric and sometimes Sas (Stein’s wife Sarah) will say to me, “Oh, we’re Eric this morning, are we?”‘
Tragic past: The celebrity chef was 17-years old when dad Eric, who struggled with bi-polar disorder, leaped to his death from a clifftop close to the family’s holiday home on the Cornish coast (pictured: Eric with wife Dorothy, Stein’s mother)
He added: ‘Oh my gosh, I’m so much older than he was when he died. But there you go. You know, I think I have probably forgiven him.’
Eric committed suicide in 1965, shortly after taking early retirement from his role as Managing Director at Distillers Company — then involved in the marketing of controversial drug Thalidomide.
In an extract from his memoir Under A Mackerel Sky, Stein revealed his father – who had struggled to cope with retirement while also battling the manic episodes brought on by bi-polar disorder – suddenly jumped to his death while taking a walk with his sister Zoe.
Old times: Rick Stein in his youth. The celebrity chef previously admitted he felt numb after learning of his father’s death
He recalled: ‘They left Redland, our holiday home on the Cornish coast, and walked up the small road towards the lighthouse on Trevose Head.
‘Three-quarters of the way up, they turned right to cut across to the cliff path. Just beyond a herring-bone slate wall with a tamarisk growing out of it, where the track runs very close to the cliff edge, my father turned to Zoe.
‘”I told you I’d do it,” he said. Then he dived on to the rocks beneath.’
Looking back: ‘My father died towards the end of November, but I didn’t associate Cornwall with gloom and death – it was a place for holidays,’ he said
Close: Stein with mother Dorothy and sister Henrietta on holiday in Ireland the fifties
Stein, himself a father of three, later discovered his father had unsuccessfully attempted suicide on at least two separate occasions before throwing himself from Trevose Head.
He added: ‘I don’t remember much about the funeral; I don’t even remember if there was a wake. My mother was just broken -— but she also felt furious and let down.
‘I thought it was a little hard of her to be angry with someone who’d just killed himself. With hindsight, however, I realise how difficult it had been to live with my father.
‘Having mental illness in a family puts enormous strain on everyone.’
If you are affected by anything in this story please contact the Samaritans helpline on: 116-123.