This past weekend, twin brothers Billy and Joe Smith – who starred in the UK show My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding – were both found hanging from a tree after an apparent joint suicide. Now, the family is speaking out about the brothers, saying they had a “suicide pact” after Joe was diagnosed with cancer, and both men also struggled with depression.
According to The Daily Mail, police in Kent closed a lane in the Sevenoaks area after the bodies of two 32-year-old men were found hanging in a tree on Saturday morning. While the police didn’t release the names of the victims, family and friends say that the bodies were Billy and Joe Smith.
My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding brothers Billy and Joe Smith tributes paid: Billy and Joe Smith, who were found dead in a country lane, were said to be "such big characters". https://t.co/2NWqGOp9bJ pic.twitter.com/cBGTP1JQUk
— RushReads (@RushReads) December 30, 2019
Their cousin, Phoebe Charleen Smith, says that Joe was diagnosed with cancer, and this was something that Billy had a hard time dealing with. Another source claimed that the family was concerned about the brothers because they had been battling depression.
“Joey had cancer, and Billy told him ‘I’d never be able to live without you,’” revealed the cousin. “Joey told the family he got the all-clear after chemo two months ago, but we don’t know if that’s true now. They went missing, and Joey’s phone was turned off, so we knew something went wrong.”
Phoebe said that the family found a note saying they wanted this to happen, and then her uncle ran up and found them in the woods where they played together as children.
Billy and Joe just celebrated their birthday on December 16th, and a few days ago they were caught on camera dancing and singing together. Paddy Doherty, who co-starred with the twins on My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, posted a video on social media and called this a “terrible tragedy.” Doherty also asked for prayers for the family.
Within so many closed communities, depression and anxiety is rife. People encouraged not to go outside the community for help, yet the community treats them like pariahs. Disempowerment of women, machismo, shaming of mental health all contribute.https://t.co/ewZ1Mm2Blv
— 🎄Cerulean Man🎄🇪🇺🏳️🌈 (@Cerulean_Man) December 30, 2019
Billy Welch, a spokesman for the Romani community in Britain, said that his community often “suffers in silence,” and this tragedy should be a wake-up call about the high suicide rates in the traveling community.
One of the twins’ neighbors said that there were no signs that anything like this would happen. They added that Billy and Joe were “ever so close, “ and they “lived for each other.”
Billy and Joe Smith appeared on Season 3 of My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding when they were 24-years-old. During one episode, they talked about their lives as travelers and shared their dreams of getting married and starting families of their own.