Last night, VICE released their new documentary focusing on the life and legacy of one of the UK's most iconic skateboarding legends, Ben Raemers.
Filmed and directed by Cardiff local, Liam Martin, the 20-minute long documentary, 'Skating and Talking', starts off by giving us an inside look into Ben's childhood with interviews from some of his closest friends and family, alongside archival footage of Ben doing what he did best: absolutely killin' it on a skateboard.
The documentary goes on to explore the beginning of Ben's skate career, when he moved to America and eventually became part of the Enjoi team, discussing his rise to popularity and how he came to be known for the goofy and naive persona that everybody fell in love with. Despite the cheerful persona he was known for, the documentary offers a contrast between Ben's skating and his own personal struggles, as his sister, Lucy Raemers, discusses their difficult upbringing and the relationship between Ben's skateboarding and his anger issues.
Throughout the video, Ben's sister provides us an insight into the side of Ben many people never got the chance to witness, discussing their life growing up and the events which may have contributed to his later struggles with mental health. Lucy offers us a fresh, outsider's perspective on how Ben used skateboarding to help cope with his personal demons, and how becoming a professional skateboarder ultimately exasperated many of the issues he was facing. Lucy also discusses Ben's struggles with alcoholism - an unfortunately common issue among skateboarders - as he often turned to drinking in an attempt to cope with his mental health issues.
The video ends by looking into the impact of Ben's tragic death and what has now become his legacy, with the creation of the Ben Raemers Foundation helping to catalyse discussions surrounding mental health throughout skateboarding. The Ben Raemers Foundation has since begun offering suicide awareness training to people involved in the skateboard industry to help improve support for anyone who may be struggling with their mental health. In addition, they have worked with skaters to produce a series of 'SMiLe' films where professional skateboarders discuss their own struggles with mental health in open and honest videos aimed at normalising discussion of these issues and encouraging people to open up about their own struggles.
For many people, the video may be a difficult watch due to its discussion of challenging topics, such as mental health issues, alcoholism, and suicide, and it goes without saying that if you've been personally affected by any of these issues, then don't hesitate to reach out to someone for help. Despite this, the tone of the documentary is ultimately positive and helps to both celebrate Ben's life and advocate for more open discussion of mental health issues to help prevent these tragic deaths in the future. If you ever feel like you're struggling and you need help, or just someone to talk to, here at CSC we're always happy to listen and offer support in any way we can. Below, you can find a list of resources and contacts for mental health support services, as well as a link to the Ben Raemers Foundation website where you can donate to the charity and find out more about their ongoing work.