Stephen Fry has revealed that he attempted to commit suicide last year by overdosing on pills and vodka, but that he was saved by chance, by his producer.

The openly gay television presenter and actor suffers from bipolar disorder, and is the president of the mental health charity Mind.

On Monday evening, Fry told an audience in Central London that he had never spoken about the latest incident, which happened when he was filming abroad.

He said he had attempted suicide before, several times, the first at age 17, the British Comedy Guide website reports.

“I am the victim of my own moods, more than most people are perhaps, in as much as I have a condition which requires me to take medication so that I don’t get either too hyper or too depressed to the point of suicide.”

He continued: “I would go as far as to tell you that I attempted it last year, so I’m not always happy — this is the first time I’ve said this in public, but I might as well. I’m president of Mind, and the whole point in my role, as I see it, is not to be shy and forthcoming about the morbidity and genuine nature of the likelihood of death amongst people certain mood disorders.

“It was a close run thing. I took a huge number of pills and a huge [amount] of vodka and the mixture of them made my body convulse so much that I broke four ribs, but I was still unconscious. And, fortunately, the producer I was filming with at the time came into the hotel room and I was found in a sort of unconscious state and taken back to England and looked after.”

He said he could not explain why he attempted suicide, but that he had been unable to go to friends for help in dealing with mood swings.

“If unmedicated, there are times when I am so exuberant, so hyper, that I can go three or four nights without sleeping and I’m writing and I’m doing stuff and I’m so grandiose and so full of self-belief that it’s almost impossible to deal with me. I can’t stop speaking, I’m incredible, I go on shopping sprees.

“Fortunately one of the common signs of mania, or hyper-mania as it is known, is sexual exhibitionism. I don’t have that as one of my brands, but others do.”