As I lay in bed last night slowly falling under the spell of sleep I was woken by the loud ringing of the home phone. As it was close to 10pm and it was the landline not the mobile I knew instantly it couldn’t be good news. I at first feared it was perhaps one of my 80-year-old dad’s siblings who at 82 and 84 and live hundreds of miles away are in poor health. I got out of bed and walked to the landing area to listen in on who had called expecting to hear there had been a death. I stayed as still as I could to avoid the floorboards creaking, slowed my breathing and listened as my dad took the call. All I heard was, “no mums out with Linda and not back yet and Mel is in bed”, there was nothing untoward on the rest of the conversation as I heard my dad end the call and as it wasn’t a call about death I climbed back in bed and didn’t give it another thought.
Bank holiday Monday, planning to sleep in a little later the landline rang out again and once again I was suspicious with it being before 8am, My parents get many phishing calls daily but they don’t usually start until 9am and finish 5pm so once again I knew there must be a problem somewhere.
I again took myself to the landing just in time to hear mum say, “oh god, how awful” I didn’t listen any more, I got dressed and instantly made my way down the stairs.
The call last night had been my brother, he needed to speak to my mum or me. He knew dad wasn’t the person to help him right there and then, dad most certainly wouldn’t have understood this call so my brother hadn’t explained and said he would call back in the morning.
The call this morning wasn’t him but my sister advising that there had been a death. It was my brother’s wife brother and he had taken his own life. My brother had called last night because his wife was due to return from a holiday in Portugal an hour later and he would have to tell her that her little brother had taken his own life. I cannot imagine how he must have felt in that hour but I am told he went through shock and sadness, rage and now the questions, why did he do it.
The death of a young man with so much to look forward to is never easy. He was young, active and from a close-knit family and would take his nephew out every week to watch their beloved football team play and was due to marry in the summer. Although he had recently lost his dog, a tragic accident when the dog was hit by a car, we know he had not taken the death well but he showed no signs of not coping. He went with his pals to the football and then to the pub, there had been no row or kick off. I cannot begin to imagine what went through this poor man’s mind before he jumped in his car drove to his workplace and took his life by hanging. The one thing that I do know is mental illness has struck again and this man had not spoken up.
The police advised it wasn’t an accident and had been planned because he left a note saying, “sorry mum”. He knew it would hurt people and is likely why he chose his workplace not home.
This was a sad start to my day but made me more determined to make Mente Wellbeing a success if it makes people aware of the red flags to look out for in family, friends and work colleagues.
Mental illness is everywhere and as we start yet another mental health awareness week that talking is great but it isn’t enough, more action is required. With cuts to the NHS and life being a struggle more than ever we need people to understand the causes of the illness and for parliament to step up and help solve this very cruel epidemic.