My brother was killed by depression’

Man in baseball cap

Amy’s brother had battled depression for eight years before he took his own life in July last year, aged just 26.

Despite his mental health struggles, his death was a shock to his family who believed he was coping with the illness.

But she insists he did not choose to kill himself – he was killed by his depression.

Amy spoke to BBC Radio Scotland about her experience after a striking new art installation was unveiled highlighting the issue of male suicide.

Sculptures of 84 men have been placed on the roof of ITV’s This Morning studios in London – each representing real men who have lost their lives to suicide.

Every week 84 men in the UK take their own lives, according to the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) the charity behind Project84.

Amy told the Kaye Adams Programme that her family had endured the “toughest eight months” since her brother’s death.

“He was struggling with his mental health but the shocking thing that we found was that he seemed fine,” she said.

“I know it sounds silly and trivial but in the last days before he died – I was the last person to see him – he was so happy.

“He had a niece and a nephew, my two children, and he was playing with them at the park, talking about plans to go to university and things.

“There was really no indication that that was the time it was going to happen. There were times we were more concerned about him, than when he did it.”

An art installation by U.S. sculptor Mark Jenkins called "Project 84" on the roof of a building in central London,The Project84 installation aims to raise awareness of male suicide rates in the UK

She said he had been to his GP shortly before he died and he was attending mental health services.

“The shocking thing about when it happened was that he was being treated and he was at his GP 10 days before he died, getting more anti-depressants,” she said.

Amy said he brother’s death was having a knock-on effect on the mental health of the rest of her family.

“My dad found my brother and he now obviously really struggles with that, he’s struggling with his own mental health.

“His GP’s reply to that is go to all the charities out there. He’s not even putting him on a waiting list for counselling or anything like that.

“I myself have started counselling from a local charity. I have the personality to go out there and do that. My brother wouldn’t have done that. I feel that my dad is a bit of history repeating itself.”

The family have been left alone to pick up the pieces of her brother’s suicide, she said.

“And it’s at that point where you feel your whole life is completely shattered and you don’t feel able to put one foot in front of the other, never mind help yourself to get the help that you need,” she added.

Mental health education

“So you’re just completely left – I felt anyway, through our own experience – that you’re just left to it by the police, by the GP.

“We had a family liaison officer from police who did nothing, to be honest. She said she had a list of phone numbers for us and she didn’t even give us those phone numbers.

“I just felt we were left to it as a family. I’m very lucky that I have such a supportive and fantastic family but it’s really been a struggle.”

Amy said she feels there is still a stigma surrounding mental health problems and suicide.

“I have had people saying, yeah he was depressed but why did he kill himself? Why did he go that far, why?

“They keep asking me why and I feel that’s down to not being educated about depression and about mental health, and also the stigma that surrounds it.

“The very fact that we’re saying people are choosing to die, I know it’s very complex, but a lot of people don’t choose to die. They have no choice left – it’s their only option.”

She said she feels some people think there should be some kind of “Hollywood ending” – they ask if there was a suicide note and whether there was a big thing that he was trying to get away from.

“I just tell them he was not very well and he died. He was killed by depression,” she said.

If you or someone you know has been affected by mental health problems, these organisations may be able to help.



Link to BBC article here 

Project 84: Charity CALM calls for action on male suicide

The sculptures of 84 men, made by American artist Mark Jenkins and his collaborator, Sandra Fernandez, part of Project 84, a campaign to raise awareness of the fact that 84 men take their own lives every week in the UK, ontop of London Television Centre after the installation was unveiled
The 84 sculptures on top of a central London building represent the number of men who take their own lives every week.
Suicide is one of the leading causes of death among men in Britain – and yet it is rarely talked about by the country’s leaders.

Every two hours a man in the UK takes his own life – that’s 84 every week, largely unseen, other than by the family and friends they leave behind.

But it would be difficult to walk past the 84 sculptures standing on top of the This Morning studios and ITV’s headquarters on London’s South Bank without noticing.

They are part of a campaign by CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) to start a conversation about male suicide in a bid for improved suicide prevention and bereavement support.

The sculptures of 84 men, made by American artist Mark Jenkins and his collaborator, Sandra Fernandez, part of Project 84, a campaign to raise awareness of the fact that 84 men take their own lives every week in the UK, ontop of London Television Centre after the installation was unveiled. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday March 26, 2018
CALM wants to raise awareness of the fact that 84 men take their own lives every week
 Each represents a man who took their own life and their family and friends worked with American artist, Mark Jenkins, and his collaborator Sandra Fernandez to create each figure.

On the project’s website are the names and details of each of the men, with stories told by those close to them.

They are from different backgrounds, of different ages and races, but what many of them have in common is that they tried to keep their struggles from those close to them.

As one daughter says of her father: “He hid it all too well”.

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter
 The sculptures were unveiled on Monday, as CALM’s chief executive Simon Gunning said the support organisation “has been campaigning and providing support services for 11 years but, try as we might, it isn’t enough to tackle the enormous problem of male suicide”.

He said: “Project 84 is all about making the scale of the situation very clear to everyone who sees the sculptures, and we hope that, by working with the families and friends of real men who have taken their lives, we can face the enormous issue of suicide together and strive for change.”

View image on Twitter

View image on Twitter

The project is also being run alongside a petition calling for a Government minister to take on official responsibility for suicide prevention and bereavement support.

The petition, started by Matthew Smith, who lost his brother to suicide, has more than 103,000 signatures.

On Twitter, the project was described as “bold”, “hard-hitting” and “powerful”, but some said it was too much.

Clare Whitby wrote on Twitter: “Powerful and necessary campaign but the image is too close home for me, and many others I’m sure. Difficult, because I wholeheartedly believe in the campaign itself.”

Ollie DG wrote: “It’s great for the awareness but it is a little dark and haunting.”

Mr Gunning said: “With Project 84, we wanted to make the scale of the situation very clear to everyone that sees the sculptures.

“By working with the families and friends of men who have taken their own lives to highlight individual stories, we hope to make the impersonal thoroughly personal.”

:: If you feel suicidal or vulnerable, if you’re worried that someone you know may be feeling suicidal or if you need support after losing a loved one to suicide, go to CALM for advice, support lines and webchat.

You can also contact the Samaritans or call 116 123. In the US call the Samaritans branch in your area or 1 (800) 273-TALK.



Link to Sky News Article here