Where do you start? Well there are no words we can say that can express what we are feeling and no words harsh enough to explain what it is like to lose a child to suicide.
It is the most shocking surreal experience you will ever have to endure as a parent. The grief, the shock, the fear, the pain and despair is overwhelming and at times unbearable.
We feel like we have experienced death ourselves without actually dying. The dark days are crucifying and lonely trapped in your own thoughts.
There’s a saying “everyone is afraid of dying, until you lose a child, then you’re afraid of living” this is so true the thought of facing a future without our sons is terrifying.
If we were told 18 months ago that Jacob and Andrew would no longer be here today, never in a million years would we ever think that suicide would have been the cause of death.
We would have thought of every other scenario even murder before thinking suicide would have taken their lives.
Someone said to us after their deaths “you don’t find suicide prevention, it finds you” again another true statement, it was something that would never cross our minds to equip ourselves on ‘preventing suicide’ as we never thought we would be affected. Why would we? Our boys presented as happy, popular, hard working, fun loving, handsome boys, who embraced life to the full and were loved and cared for dearly by their families.
The complexity of their deaths hit our families and the whole community like a tornado causing total and utter devastation.
As parents you feel like a failure. We felt responsible for their deaths and that we should have seen the signs, we question ‘where did we go wrong?’
You feel ashamed as you know a lot of society is judging you and your child’s lifestyle, this is due to the stigma surrounding suicide caused by the lack of knowledge and education around it.
You feel very isolated and alienated because people don’t know how to approach you and talk about suicide.
We want people to acknowledge how our sons died and to understand that the mind is very fragile and that suicide is a result of an overwhelming feeling that can often occur very quickly which may be caused from a biological, psychological or environmental factor that to others may seem trivial.
This leaves the person feeling so desperate and hopeless about life, that they feel suicide is their only option.
We have had to deal with comments such as “some people are dying to live, while others waste their lives”. Honestly, are we still a nation that believes only the physical body can become unwell and give in?
There is a lot more compassion when the physical body is in pain or develops an illness or just gives up, but when it happens to the mind it’s “a weakness”, it’s something the person is “responsible for themselves”.
So on top of all the pain and heartache we have to deal with this kind of ignorance.
Thankfully it’s only a small minority, but nevertheless small enough to be damaging.
It not just us as mothers who suffer from this loss there are at least 15 other family members and friends who are deeply affected and struggling to process the grief and trauma.
When we say trauma this is how it looks: weight loss or gain, hair loss or turning grey overnight, lack of concentration, memory loss, afraid to be left alone, severe anxiety, severe fatigue, depression, even thoughts of suicide.
These are just a few things to mention and not to mention the severe PTSD that is caused to the family member, loved one or friend that discovers the suicide.
Therefore, with all the devastation caused to families and friends and learning that suicide is the biggest killer in the UK of males under 50.
We were waiting for the team of professionals to knock our door to provide us with an intense support package to help get you through those crucial days, weeks, months and to help you make sense of what has happened.
But not a chance.
We were given nothing, not even a leaflet, we found no signposting as to where you get help and support.
Instead you have to seek it out yourself in the midst of your grief.
During our search for help we came across a resource called ‘Help is at Hand’ it provides support, information and practical advice for people affected by suicide.
We shouldn’t have had to have found it ourselves.
This should be given out to our families in the early days as it explains the immediate process after the death. Instead you have words thrown at you like ‘coroner, inquest, and post-mortem’ and you have no idea what it all means.
It also provides a shared understanding and signposts you to bereavement support. But what good is this resource if it’s not being filtered through to those who need it most?
First responders dealing with sudden death by a suspected suicide should be equipped with this resource to pass on to families, the emergency services, GP’s, Hospitals, Mortuary’s, and Funeral Directors.
We would like to raise awareness to help other young men suffering from anxiety, depression and despair.
We would like to see more awareness, education and support for mental health and possible causes like drug use. We believe in doing so it would reduce the stigma and encourage open conversations about mental health and suicide.
Boys and young men should know who to speak to about their concerns which could prevent them from feeling that suicide is their only option.
There needs to be more education on mental health and well-being. Improved access to information around self-care through providing simple coping mechanisms and signposting to organisations/helplines this could be done through posters and leaflets disturbed in schools/colleges, sport clubs, night clubs, gyms etc.
Male suicide levels are rising.
These deaths are unnecessary and leave families and communities devastated.
Let’s all work together to reduce this!
Nicola Abraham & Lisa Noman
If you want to speak to someone about the issues raised then call the Samaritans for free on 116 123.