Grieving family: 'DJs death must not be in vain'

Published date: 14 September 2012 |
Published by: Jim Green
Read more articles by Jim Green

Billy Picken 

Billy's sister Amy Picken 

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FAMILY and friends of a talented DJ who took his own life hope to prevent others experiencing the same pain they have felt.

Music-loving Billy Picken started the Freak! club nights in Chester in 2003 with some friends and helped the club grow into one of the most popular in the region.

His popularity led to a warm-up slot for dance music star Mr C but those closest to Billy were left heartbroken when the 28-year-old from Handbridge, formerly of Blacon and Upton, took his own life earlier this year.

His family and friends are now coming together to celebrate his life and to raise money for young suicide prevention charity PAPYRUS.

Freak! One More Time for Billy takes place at Club Phoenix on Watergate Row South on Saturday, October 6.

Billy’s younger sister Amy, 27, who works in Mold, said on behalf of the family: “We were so saddened to lose such a sensitive and talented young man in such a tragic way.

“We all fully support this event and hope it can prevent even just one family from suffering a similar tragedy.”

Close friend and fellow Freak! DJ Peter Barnes said: “Billy’s death hit us all hard, especially as he took his own life and we all felt so helpless.

“You look back at certain times and wonder whether you could have said or done anything that could have prevented him from doing it.

“But then you realise you have all these memories and good times to hold on to and cherish. You want to share them and keep Billy alive through all these experiences and stories and photos.

“We started Freak! in 2003 at City Bar and Billy loved being part of it. We met and made a lot of friends through the nights.

“A couple of us talked about putting on one last event in memory of Billy so all his friends and family could celebrate his life and raise awareness of suicide among young people.

“We want anyone feeling depressed or suicidal to know it is okay to talk about it and that to seek help is not being weak or putting a burden on others.”

PAPYRUS, based in Warrington, provides helplines for young people who are feeling suicidal or for those who are worried about someone committing suicide.

Peter said: “We could not help Billy but if we can get one person to seek help and change their life instead of ending it then that is a success.

“The reaction to the event has been amazing. We are asking people to donate at least £5 on entry and are donating 100 per cent of door takings to PAPYRUS.

“We have raised more than £700 already but we all wish Billy was coming to this last party.”

For more details about Freak! One More Time for Billy or to make a donation go to

Suicide facts

ACROSS the UK about 1,400 people aged under 34 take their own lives every year.

Young suicide prevention charity PAPYRUS believes the shocking figures are the ‘tip of the iceberg’ with many thousands contemplating suicide and self-harm.

As well as raising awareness of the danger signs, the charity produces helpful literature, initiates research into suicide prevention and campaigns to protect vulnerable young people against being groomed for suicide on the internet.

Ged Flynn, chief executive of PAPYRUS, said the money raised by Billy’s family and friends would help the charity continue to try to reduce the number of young suicides.

He said: “It is extremely generous of the friends of Billy Picken to mark his loss by donating to PAPYRUS the proceeds of their forthcoming Freak! gig.

“They will help us to raise awareness and reduce the stigma of suicide by extending our messages to young people, encouraging them to talk and above all, to seek help. We can’t do it without such support.

Anyone worried about themselves or a young person they know can call the PAPYRUS helpline HOPELineUK on 0800 0684141.

Calls are confidential and anonymous and are answered by mental health professionals who offer practical help and support to young people who feel in a dark place as well as anyone worried about a young person they know.

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