Gloucester rugby fly-half Danny Cipriani is to lead an emotional tribute to his close friend Caroline Flack.
Cipriani will lead his team mates out wearing black memorial armbands for Friday evening's Premiership Rugby match with Sale Sharks in memory of Love Island host Flack, who tragically took her own life earlier this month.
The entire Gloucester team will support their grieving team mate by wearing the armbands which bear the words "Be Kind", to encourage social media users and the media to think twice before making critical and hurtful comments.
Cipriani opened up in an emotional Instagram post last week about a voicemail Flack sent him, while the 32-year-old issued a personal appeal asking the public to be more compassionate and understanding of mental health issues, discussing how he had suffered from thoughts about taking his own life in the past.
Gloucester have dedicated the match to raise awareness of mental health and promote kindness through the #BeKind campaign, and the Gloucester Rugby Foundation has joined forces with Samaritans to bring in-stadium support to fans at Kingsholm during the match.
As well as raising awareness of mental health, Gloucester hope to fill the stadium and raise as much money as possible for the Gloucester & District Samaritans, with £5 from every ticket purchase donated to the charity.
Cipriani remained close with Flack and described her as "one of the most caring, genuine people I ever met".
He added: "She endured unimaginable criticism during her years in the public eye but through it all, she just wanted people to show a little kindness to each other. And that’s a message that should be her legacy – be kind.
“We all have spells of self-doubt, anxiety and low points. Nobody needs other people to point out their flaws and make them feel worse about themselves. A little kindness goes a long way.”
Premiership Rugby has given its blessing for Friday's kit to be changed after Cipriani made a personal request.
The governing body continues to be a positive force in driving discussion about mental health issues and providing support and education for players to help them deal with the pressures they face.
CEO of Premiership Rugby, Darren Childs, said: "Rugby is a tough game and although the players can put up with a lot of physical knocks, sometimes, the levels of inner hurt can go unnoticed. The sport has been making great strides in breaking down the barriers about discussing mental health challenges.
"But we all need to be more understanding about the struggles people are going through and being kind to one another is a start. We had no hesitation in agreeing to highlight this simple but important gesture.”
Samaritans (116 123) operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year. If you prefer to write down how you’re feeling, or if you’re worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at [email protected]
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