I lost my brother last week.
His name was Allan.
He was 25.
Suicide is the number 1 killer of men under the age of 45. Allan was one of those men.
To some, it may seem too soon to be writing this, but I don’t want Allan to become just a number, another statistic. I want you to know the brother, the father, the friend we all knew and loved. This is his story.
He was strong, stubborn, cheeky and so genuine. Fiercely loyal, he wouldn’t rest if someone needed help and there was something he could do, no matter how small. His happy go lucky attitude was infectious; you could always find him at the next festival singing louder than all the others or looking for the next big thing that would leave everyone in stitches. You couldn’t help but laugh when he was around, that was his gift. Allan was larger than life itself.
He got that from our Mum, who we lost almost 6 years ago to heart disease. She was Allan’s idol, he looked up to her like no one else. She taught us to fight tooth and nail for the ones you love. To lose her at such a young age was terrible for us all, but Allan lost not only a parent, but a best friend and he never recovered. He developed anxiety and post bereavement, which later turned into depression. There were days when he was on top of the world and not a bad thought or word could bring him down. Others, he couldn’t even bring himself to face the day.
None of us really knew just how much pain he was in or how low his depression had taken him.
Allan touched so many lives, was loved by many, with the strongest group of friends and family anyone could ask for.
The greatest tragedy of it all was that he never knew that, his depression wouldn’t let him. It stopped him from seeing how important he was and from talking to those around him. He struggled to word his feelings and depression, believing he shouldn’t, that it wasn’t ok to show that side of him. That he was the one that others turned too and not the other way around.
This is one of the huge problems we are faced with as a country. Mental health support is on the rise, but so many people battle it alone. Depression, anxiety; these are NOTHING to be ashamed of. We are all affected by mental health. Not one person should ever feel that they cannot talk to someone when things become unbearable.
It is our fear of openly talking about this subject that has raised the stigma attached to it. We should be helping each other to talk before it’s too late and to stop each other feeling so isolated and unable to seek help.
If you are reading this and it is something you are going through, know this; You ARE loved. You are NOT alone. You CAN ask for help. If I could grab your hand now, I would and not let go. Just so you know that there is someone there for you. I know its terrifying and painful but please, please, speak up. People can and will understand more than you know.
If you know someone going through this, no matter how strong they may seem, please reach out. To the friend who seems a bit down, the family member you’ve argued with, the colleague who turns up late. Talk to them. Don’t leave it for someone else, don’t presume they’re fine.
Be understanding of the darkness that surrounds them, even if you can’t see it, the loneliness that consumes them, even if you can’t feel it. Just be there for them. It is one of the bravest, kindest and most important things you will ever do.
We regret the things we don’t do. Don’t let this be one of those things. Above all else, have courage and be kind.
For those who have lost.
For those still suffering.
Chloé – DisabilityMe
Suicide Prevention Helpline
0800 068 41 41