Bow comedian on mission to break silence over mental health after his mum’s suicide

PUBLISHED: 07:00 26 September 2019

Marcus Tisson turned to stand up comedy following the death of his parents, Margaret and Winston. Picture: Marcus Tisson

Marcus Tisson turned to stand up comedy following the death of his parents, Margaret and Winston. Picture: Marcus Tisson


A man whose mother committed suicide has taken to the stage as a stand up comedian to raise awareness of mental health.

Margaret took her life in 2016. Picture: Marcus TissonMargaret took her life in 2016. Picture: Marcus Tisson

It came as a great shock to Marcus Tisson of Malmesbury Road, Bow, when he received a call on August, 21 2016 telling him his mum, Margaret, had jumped in front of a train at Mile End station.

Margaret, a dinner lady at Morpeth School in Bethnal Green, was just 58 and, according to Marcus, had shown no signs she was struggling, chatting to her son the day before about plans for her birthday.

Two months later, while coming to terms with the loss, Marcus's dad, Winston, died after battling with schizophrenia.

"It had a big effect on my own mental health. I would get anxious at the thought of what happened to mum," Marcus said.

Margaret, Marcus and his sister Selina. Picture: Marcus TissonMargaret, Marcus and his sister Selina. Picture: Marcus Tisson

The double tragedy forced the 40-year old to reflect on why people facing mental health difficulties often keep it quiet, prompting him to start a campaign, Don't Suffer in Silence, aimed at helping to break the taboo.

Among his projects, the father of two took to the stage pursuing an ambition to do stand up. He has appeared at the Backyard Comedy Club, Bethnal Green, and the LightHouse Bar & Club in Shoreditch talking about his parents.

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And he organises walks in Victoria Park open to anyone who wants to meet and talk over anything troubling them.

Marcus on stage. Picture: Marcus TissonMarcus on stage. Picture: Marcus Tisson

"Everyone needs laughter in their lives, especially if they've got mental health problems. We need more laughter in our world," he said.

"It's the best feeling to be on stage and make people laugh."

Marcus, who describes his style as "raw and unapologetic", has been praised by supporters online for speaking openly as a black man about his feelings and experiences following his parents' deaths.

"Black men hide their feelings behind this tough bravado," he said. "But the world needs to know more about mental health and a guy who had a bad experience and turned it into a positive."

He urged anyone facing challenges not to suffer in silence.

"Suicide has ruined my family. Seek help," he said.

Marcus is due to appear at the LightHouse Bar & Club on November 1.

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