***Trigger warning: this blog mentions suicide***
My son Alan died in June 2015. He was 31 years old and had experienced depression and anxiety for half his life.
He was popular, excellent in his school studies and sport, particularly football. He always thought of himself as a failure, partly because parental expectation judged him as not the success that he was expected to achieve.
Being brought up in an emotionally violent family environment sowed the seeds of his mental health challenges, compounded by the equally difficult separation and eventual divorce of his parents. I could write a book about what I believe were the root causes of Alan's torments.
Alan's suicide has led me to campaign for many mental health charities.
These include Samaritans (freephone 116 123), Zero Suicide Alliance ( suicide prevention), CM Foundation (Mental Health First Aid in football), Cameron Grant Memorial Trust ( young people/ and university students), Mental Health Foundation (National Campaigns and Assisting Government).
If anyone who reads this piece seeks to become involved in campaigning, please check out the above charities.
Advice for a concerned parent, relative or friend
- "Are You OK?" Raise the subject, open up communication, show compassion.
- Do not be judgemental. Listen, listen, listen.
- Signpost, GP, A&E, mental health charities and counselling.
Advice for a bereaved parent, relative or friend
- Grieve for a year, talk about your loss, consider SOBS UK or local Bereavement Support Organisation
- Become active in campaigning, lobby Local and National Government representatives
- Raise awareness of the growing issues surrounding mental health, particularly with young people
- Hope for the future
- Never give up
Seek help for yourself
If you yourself are feeling like ending your life, please call 999 or go to A&E and ask for the contact of the nearest crisis resolution team. These are teams of mental health care professionals who work with people in severe distress.
Other sources of help include:
- Samaritans offer a 24-hours a day, 7 days a week support service. Call them FREE on 116 123. You can also email [email protected]
- Papyrus is a dedicated service for people up to the age of 35 who are worried about how they are feeling or anyone concerned about a young person. You can call the HOPElineUK number on 0800 068 4141, text 07786 209697 or email [email protected]
- NHS Choices: 24-hour national helpline providing health advice and information. Call them free on 111.
- C.A.L.M.: National helpline for men to talk about any troubles they are feeling. Call 0800 58 58 58.
- Support After Suicide Partnership offers practical and emotional support on their website for people bereaved and affected by suicide
Suicide prevention: how you can make a difference
Read about why the need for suicide prevention is as great as ever. In this blog there are also practical suggestions about how you can support others and get help for yourself.