Category: News

We want to hear your Big Ideas!

Imagine you had a Big Idea – an idea so big it made a positive difference for millions of people.

An idea so incredible in fact that, within a very short time, it is clearly saving lives.

To feed into the new national Suicide Prevention Plan, we at The Jordan Legacy want to open up the conversation to find out what you think will prevent us losing around 6500 people to suicide every year in the UK.

Big Ideas are not necessarily new ideas but those likely to have the biggest impact if we invest in them. They might be ideas that have been on the periphery for several years but have not been accepted, included in national plans, and effectively implemented.

In 2012, there was much talk of supporting those bereaved by suicide as a new idea or a big idea to input into the 2012-2017 Suicide Prevention Plan. This illustrates how long it takes to get such ideas ‘into the system’ and also, 10 years on, how much we still need to do to effectively implement such support. Why are families, like my own, often being left to fend for themselves when losing a loved one to suicide?

Big Ideas are effectively ‘breakthroughs’. They can be new thinking or new approaches. They can be ways of better implementing what we know ‘works’ in saving lives. They can be a breakthrough in terms of being accepted by ‘the establishment’ so this is then reflected in research, development, suicide prevention plans and suicide prevention activity.

Over the past two years, The Jordan Legacy has listened with an open mind to all ideas for more impact in saving lives and we have run events and discussion panels around these ideas. These include Designing Out Suicide initiatives and Zero Suicide Plans, Workplace Wellbeing, Creating Safe Spaces, integrated Digital + Human support, and Suicide Prevention via Schools. Again, these might not be completely new ideas but they are potentially Big Ideas if more widely adopted.

In the past 5 years, the topic of ‘online harm’ has become high on the agenda and led to a number of actions including the Online Harms Bill. However, the potentially positive benefits of digital technology applications still struggle to get on the agenda so don’t get the research & development investment they need as potential breakthroughs.

https://www.ripplesuicideprevention.com/

We often hear that having ‘a big conversation’ – a high profile national conversation to take awareness to a new level and prompt more people to contribute to suicide prevention – is itself a Big Idea. Indeed, we think the Government should have a dedicated high profile public engagement process to shape the Suicide Prevention Plan and avoid it getting lost within the broader public consultation on the Mental Health Plan.

The Jordan Legacy is also heavily involved in planning the #BatonOfHopeUK initiative so we can all have that ‘big conversation’.

It’s important for us to keep highlighting Big Ideas at all times but especially so now as the Government is developing the new national Suicide Prevention Plan.

It’s also crucial that we aim high. All of those we interact with regularly share the belief that most suicides are preventable so we surely must be aiming to prevent most suicides and not tolerating this unacceptably high figure of around 6500 suicides per year – which we also knows has a huge ripple effect.

So please let us know what you think are the Big Ideas, and let’s open up that ‘big conversation’! Please leave a comment on this post.

 

 

 

Steve Phillip – Founder of The Jordan Legacy CIC

 

YOU JUST NEVER KNOW WHAT’S AROUND THE CORNER…

3rd February 2022

I wanted to share with you some of the good things that are happening, but mostly because of where my head was a month ago…

December and January had seen most of my work cancelled due to the newest variant. Then, I actually caught COVID-19, which meant I was unable to complete the big project I was managing.

I’m a one-man band at Make it MATTer and was too unwell to fix everything on my own. I lost a lot of money, but perhaps even worse was a strange knock on my confidence and self-esteem.

I started the year with no prospective work in the pipeline and zero income coming in – you can understand why one would be anxious.

I thought about getting a normal job – I spent each day filling out application forms (unnecessarily long in most cases) to secure something. I was getting one or two interviews but nothing really worked out and I’ve got to say it was pretty soul-destroying.

I was also weirdly nervous about ‘getting’ an offer of a job that I wouldn’t be as passionate about. Worrying I might get stuck.

I pretty happy with my freelance life and the people I get to collaborate with and the opportunities I’m lucky to have (when it’s going well).

Things got worse:

1) An important relationship ended abruptly with no explanation.

2) Then a few days later, a friend of mine took his own life.

In fact, he was the second close male friend to do so within a year.

Now, you should know something about me at this point…

I’ve always wanted to go to Tuscany. It is one of two places in the world that I have longed to visit most of my adult life. It gave me my love of the sunflower, which was one of the main themes of my wedding, and is also the setting of ‘Under The Tuscan Sun’ – a film I enjoyed watching repeatedly in my early twenties about a woman going through a divorce and beginning a new chapter.

Well, I am going through the same thing as her right now.

Divorce is enough to make anyone feel a bit shit (Sorry for swearing Dad) and with the added financial and now personal losses upon me I felt close to rock bottom.

Mentally and emotionally – I felt like I was back at square one of my break-up two years ago – I’d already come so far!

I needed to act fast before I lost the plot. I had to do a lot of soul searching, a few private tears and lots of prayer.

What was I going to do to get out of this funk? 

I focused on doing everything in my power to not worry and basically put action into the areas that I CAN do something about. By choosing that way, I instantly felt calmer and more in control.

Whether that be protecting my health with exercise, playing the piano, reading the psalms, long dog walks (with a good podcast in my ears) such as Dr Chatterjee‘s ‘Feel Better Live More’ Series whose podcast incidentally introduced me to some amazing speakers.

A big high five to Mel Robbins, whose new book ‘The High 5 Habit’ I completed last week on Audible which was a total game-changer.

I HIGHly recommend it.

I’ve also just picked up where I left off with another book called ‘The Happiness Trap’ by Dr. Russ Harris in the nick of time too.

Grateful for all their talents and gift to articulate what we feel and how to get through those obstacles.

I also had a social media detox. Nice to be back though now. Things were beginning to look up, but I still didn’t have a job!

All this has led me to do some extra work on myself with a wonderful new connection of mine, Devya Athwa. We hit it off straight away during a recent networking event ‘Circle Networks’ organised by our mutual friend, Dan Skermer.

I was really excited to be joining this event – but in truth, I almost didn’t log on for it. I’d not had a good night sleep in four nights straight and woke up late for it. I was mortified, as anyone will tell you – Mr Punctual, Matt Elson is never late!

My brain was telling me not to bother logging on. “You’re too late”, “Don’t embarrass yourself” etc. So, I just hoped and prayed that if it wasn’t meant to be then God would cause a power surge that would cut off my WiFi and THEN I would know it wasn’t for me!!

Safe to say, I logged on and all was fine, entered the room and blamed my dog for the lateness and that was that. (Sorry Alfie).

I’m so glad I did.

Otherwise, I wouldn’t have crossed paths with Devya who kickstarted the next bit for me confident wise. Dan Skermer, if you’re reading this – now you know the truth too!

I had two further serious setbacks on the job front in week 2 and I felt like giving up.

I closed my laptop – got out of the house, met a mate, and we talked it all over.

We decided to concentrate on the ‘work’ stuff “Let’s get Matt a new job!”.

Within 24 hours, I had an interview on Zoom with her friend who had messaged that day on WhatsApp looking for a freelancer with my exact skill set to start immediately.

I began a two-day trial leading a new project the following day, which has actually extended across three weeks so far and I am absolutely loving it. Oh and guess what – my first pay cheque came in yesterday!

So, this week, I have had my second session with the brilliant Devya, and at the end even we discussed some work that we could potentially do together which was a bit unexpected.

Then, what followed was not one, but two separate enquiries to the office for which I’m now booked.

One of those opportunities is going to take me to a place that I’ve been manifesting for (wait for it) almost twenty years…

Since the most recent death of a friend I’ve reconnected with some people I had lost touch with and have been better at checking in on friends and family – and they have done the same for me.

I’m on one call with someone after my session and I share my good news and hear about his, and then at the end of the call, he books me on a weeks filming job in September…

Me: Where?

Him: IN TUSCANY. 🌻

I am going to be under the Tuscan sun; with all the sunflowers, and I can’t quite believe it. Thank you UNIVERSE.

What is most wonderful is that despite the hard times. I got through them and we’re here now in February with all this great stuff happening.

It doesn’t mean it is all going to be easy and I am still going to have to dodge any curveballs that could potentially set me back.

Nothing in life is ever guaranteed, but the weight that has been lifted off my shoulders after a difficult time of mostly temporary setbacks that seemed much bigger at the time is nothing short of a miracle.

I’m actually a lot stronger today too and if anyone asks I am now firmly in a ‘serious relationship’ with myself, for now.

Totally grateful that the universe seems to have positioned this door to me, when just a month ago I thought all doors were closed.

So, if you’re out there now, feeling at a low point in your life, for whatever reason, I hope you see this as a sign that good things are coming to you – but DO talk, know your own worth, reach out, find your people, they are out there somewhere. Maybe I’m one of them.

AND FINALLY…

Someone close to me often talks about ‘aces in places’ and I’m so glad he once informed me that I am an ace in place to him. It’s recently made me look for my own. One by one, they’re showing face.

Thank you, LinkedIn for allowing me to share how I am reclaiming a bit of sun again today.

At the top of this article is an image showing the sky, part of a building, trees and rolling hills. Now, look at the bottom image. We can’t always see the full picture but it doesn’t mean isn’t going to become clear. When the time is right. Keep the faith.

Oh, and check in on that friend you were just thinking about! Do it now.

See you around.

Matt :o)

🌻🌻

This article is dedicated to the memory of Owen Long and Aaron Kurtis.

 

“Life offers you a thousand chances, all you’ve got to do is take one”

 

Originally published on LinkedIn by Matt Elson

Jordan didn’t want to die, he simply wanted to escape his pain

In the spring of 2021, Jordan’s father, Steve, met with the team from eezymind to film the story of Jordan’s suicide and the aftermath of that event on December 4th 2019. The video below is the result of that day’s recording.

The story starts with the day Steve received the tragic news about his son’s death and then the days and weeks that followed. From the moment the family walked into Jordan’s home, the following day and what they found there, to the search to try and discover where Jordan had been taken. This film hopefully conveys the terrible ripple effect that bereavement to suicide leaves behind and why it is so important that we find ways to encourage those who are struggling with their mental health to be able to find their voice and ask for help.

Our huge thanks to the team at eezymind for their kindness and consideration in making this film and allowing us to share our story so it might help others. Click here to view further interviews by eezymind on the topic of mental health.

For further information about The Jordan Legacy’s Mission to help prevent suicides, click here. . To learn how you can support our cause, please click here.

Reasons To Stay Alive – a reflection on the suicide of a musician

In 2018, a popular musician, known as Avicii, killed himself. At that time I too was suicidal.

I was so envious.

He’d achieved that sweet release that I had both craved, and fought against daily.

I wanted to not exist so badly, and yet Avicii’s death actually opened the door to my staying alive. I chose to think that I had taken my own life on the same day as him, and each day I would reflect on what I would have missed had that been so.

At first it didn’t feel as if I had missed anything, but then, day by day, I noticed and tallied a hug from my children, a sunny day outside, the smell of dinner cooking, the sound of laughter. Tiny moments in the scheme of things, yet I was thankful for them.

Most days I began to see more tiny pleasures, and they helped to push away the darkness that had enveloped me. I no longer wanted to die. This virtuous spiral began to grow, assisted by improved medication, and weekly therapy.

The third anniversary of Avicii’s death was a few days ago. I paused to reflect when I saw a news article about him the other day. I’ve stayed alive despite everything just over 3 years!

I also felt a profound sadness for Avicii, he may have got the peace he wanted, but now the price of that peace seems to me to be too high to pay.

I didn’t know three years ago that I would start to recover, even a year ago it was looking very shaky, I so very nearly took my own life. There is so much I would have missed.

This post was taken from the blogging and community website Moodscape and written by one of its members. The original posting can be found here

Moodscope members seek to support each other by sharing their experiences through this blog.

The image of Avicii is courtesy of Variety publication and it’s article relating to Avicii’s death which can be viewed here.

The Elephant In The Studio – Britain Occasionally Does Lack Talent…and This Time It’s Was One of the Judges

Suicide. A big, loud, noisy and inexorable elephant in the room.

The biggest killer of men under the age of 45 in the UK – a trend seen across all counties – and over 800,000 global suicides every year. It is also on the rise across women and accounts for approaching 7,000 deaths in the UK annually.  It is also sadly likely underreported due to issues of certification on death. Moreover, one in five people have considered suicide or had suicidal thoughts in their life. And let’s be clear: suicide and self-harm are not just mental health problems themselves, but they are linked with mental distress.  In short, we have another pandemic: it is called suicide.  And sadly, we have been putting the societal head in the sand and acting out Professor Einstein’s definition of insanity pretty much ever since The Garden of Eden: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Indeed, historical analysis shows this human pandemic has been ongoing for centuries and been hidden, incorrectly reported and tucked under the world’s fickle carpet.

So when Piers Morgan recently chose to vituperate Megan Markle over her comments of having suffered suicidal thoughts, a big, clear red line was crossed. Why? One simple, thumping reason. Because in doing so, and seemingly with copious amounts of roast beef against the subject, Morgan traduced the issue of suicide and the importance of people speaking up, speaking out and critically seeking help. Regardless of Morgan’s motives, for such a supposedly experienced communicator and “comms man”, his misplaced and inane remarks grimly mangled personal toxicity between himself and a former friend, and the truly vital imperative of suicide, awareness and sending a message of “it’s okay not to be okay” and “we are all in this together”.  There was nothing clever or valid about his remarks, but that is the problem when vile and bile seemingly lead the way. That is unacceptable, abominable and beyond reprehensible. You could say it was a royal cock up, but alas it appeared much more calculated. That is even more disturbing.In the face of a global suicide pandemic and indeed a global Covid-19 pandemic, which is also delivering its own mental health sequelae and a wide range of complications, doing anything that might deter anyone from speaking up and getting help is catastrophic. It was Sir Steve Redgrave who once said, do whatever you need “to make the boat go faster” even if that means changing your pants to gain an extra one hundredth of second. That might be the difference between bagging gold or settling for silver.  Morgan’s comments only serve to make the boat go slower and, for those vulnerable, distressed and confused, enough to reinforce regressive thoughts that “no one understands” so as to capsize or submerge the boat with an ocean of withdrawal, embarrassment and reservation. The only waves and ripples we should be seeking to splash around are those of positivity, acceptance, openness and conveying there is always a way and never be ashamed or think there is no way forward.  Speaking up matters.  Talking about how you feel is brave and a sign of leadership. Like Sir Winston Churchill once said, no virtue has any meaning without courage and courage and virtue is embodied in openness, awareness and togetherness.
This critical issue, and moreover for vulnerable people experiencing a private hell, a range of mental health challenges or a personal torment, is way more important than Morgan’s need to once again rashly hoy public polemic around like superficial confetti at a wedding party.  If you chose to park your tank on the lawn of mental health, my word you need to do it with an appropriateness, well thought through articulation and positive perspective; not verbose weapons of vitriol that conflate a personal grudge with the issue in hand. Going into a news studio for an early morning rant with swaggering brazen and gushing hyperbole is far from useful.  It is actually rather sad.The purpose of this missive is not to focus in on the veracity of Meghan Markle and create some peep show scorecard of the interview itself. Also, to be clear I am not writing these thoughts as a Prince Harry and Meghan Markle defender or advocate; indeed, there are questions to ponder on their decision to move away from their public duties and a debate that will rumble on.  In short, I am distinctly neutral on the Royal Family chasm. Yet when someone talks about suicide or suicidal thoughts, we must always take it seriously, be compassionate and never seek to undermine the issue in hand.  It does not matter if you are a Duchess or an ordinary gadgie. It is totally irrelevant. Anyone can be afflicted and affected with mental health challenges at any time and in any way.

Imagine if we said to someone “just get over” cancer. Just imagine the scenes of public opprobrium and condemnation – and rightly so. So why is mental health treated and viewed so differently? What sort of world are we living in if the first thought and reference point is distrust and dismay particularly on an issue this serious?We have laws of the land, enshrined in Magna Carta and towers of parliamentary legislation, that demands the old aphorism of “innocent until proven guilty”.  Indeed, lest we forget people have died for these inalienable rights and none of us should forget that fact. Just a couple of summers ago, I travelled to Crete with my Father to retrace my late Grandfather’s (a legend of a man) footsteps in the Second World War given he was stationed on the Greek island for a significant part of the war undertaking signals and intelligence on the front line as a recently trained electrician and “spark man”.  To feel first hand the devastation and unspeakable scenes a 19 year old lad must have gone through to protect our precious rights, so vividly exemplified by the lines of graves and tombstones in those mountainous fields, was all too compelling. Why do we jump to conclusions and seek to trash these rights through the grim modern phenomenon of “trial by media”?  In other words, Meghan Markle has nothing to prove when discussing her feelings on such a vital issue and certainly should not be assumed “guilty until proven innocent”.
We could focus in on Morgan himself and his own veracity: sacked as editor of the Mirror for printing hoax and fake pictures of British Troops allegedly torturing prisoners of the Iraq War; befriending Donald Trump and then throwing him under the bus following election defeat; egregious comments about Sir Alistair Cook in an apparent campaign over his mercurial friend Kevin Pietersen; and telling people to “man up” over mental health.  Morgan has also cited the timing of the interview when Prince Philip was is hospital and damage to the monarchy as a justification for his contentious comments.  That is a classic case of caca de cheval as they would say in Paris.  Remarkable for a man who has been the editor of papers that have egregiously pursued the Royal Family for years with murky undercover investigations and sensational headlines. I struggle to see how Morgan can now claim personal concern for the Duke of Edinburgh and Her Majesty given past obtrusions and lurid paper copy. And this before we get to Morgan’s doubtful performance at the Levensen Inquiry over phone hacking and bombastic contributions on Britain’s Got Talent. The fact he also supports Arsenal too…only joking.

Yet I wish to waste no more ink on this person’s doubtful attributes yet to say even if Morgan did have a valid point to make on veracity, he is not the one to do it.  That would be like the Hunchback of Norte-Dame telling someone to sit up straight.Moreover, let’s be clear. The ongoing problems between Prince Harry, Meghan Markle and the Royal Family are private matters and, despite their public fame and global reach, it is not for us or anyone else to seek to plonk our hooters into their private affairs. How can any of us judge?  What do any of us really know?  Think to your own family experiences or friendships circles. Nothing tends to be as black and white as the stripes of my beloved Newcastle United – and for those who follow The Toon’s rollercoaster ways will know even the club that sports black and white stripes, the reality is a kaleidoscope of shades of grey and so much more!  Similarly, the wisdom and virtue of conducting a full-on interview with Oprah is prima facie questionable and certainly not everyone’s cup of tea. Yet again, none of us know the full nine yards.The fact some have joined in with Morgan’s seditious and wild comments, with social media once again disgracing itself with remarks such as “just toughen up” and “get over it”, shows how big this elephant remains and the roaring sound of a disturbed societal animal. In fact, social media continues to far too frequently be a network of excrement and mudslinging with cyber bullying, abuse and harassment firm fixtures and fittings in the ecosystem of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. We frankly cannot detract from the inescapable fact that social media platforms and Internet providers continue to fail in their ethical responsibilities to regulate their own backyard.  The CEOs of our social media companies continue to misplace their backbones somewhere amidst the digital sphere as profits trump doing the right thing and stopping hate crimes. In addition, the tabloid media remains as vicious and voracious as it has ever been bingeing itself on a gluttonous appetite of celebrity guff and solipsistic endeavour.  I am all for a free press.  It is vital and a cornerstone of a liberal democracy, but any hope the phone hacking disgrace, which we should not forget included the indescribably disgusting hacking of Milly Dowly’s mobile phone, would reset the dial and bring some form of ethics to reporting is nothing but a distant pipe dream.  The need for Levenson hangs above the gloomy and grim landscape of parts of our voyeuristic press and the shady methods of those holding the pen and bashing up the keyboard.

Yet there is another elephant not just in the room, but society more generally. Many people feed the beast that is the tabloid press by buying the product whether in paper or electronic form. I have steadfastly refused to buy any tabloid paper since the age of 18 having researched so many cases of defamatory, toxic and grisly misreporting as part of a university assignment for my Politics and Economics degree.  I would not even use the tabloid papers in my cat Winston’s litter tray. The press ain’t fit to smoke my boots –  or indeed that of many people – and certainly not fit to touch Winston’s majestic paws. Yet despite my own protestations, society does have to hold a mirror up to itself. The press machine supplies and survives – actually prospers big time – because of public demand. Of course, many parts of our media are responsible and professional, with some superb examples of investigatory journalism upholding critical public accountability and asking the tough but critical questions of those in power, but there is no denying the tabloid press is too often a dark stain on our democracy and society.  The recent tragedy of Caroline Flack only reinforces my point and particularly on the concentric issues of mental health and suicide.

Thus, Morgan was clearly out of line and transgressed badly, but one person’s polemical remarks is frankly a symptom of a bigger disease. That disease is the way the tabloid press chooses to cover these issues and the ongoing haranguing, badgering and targeting of people, particularly famous people at any cost. I am no fan of the celebrity culture and some celebrities would be high on my lament list, but mental health and suicide are bigger than any press tittle tattle and voyeurism. So alas ladies and gents, another big, thumping and grisly elephant in the room is the tabloid press and any of us who happen to keep feeding it. Time to think. Time for many of us to think about our media diet.  Time to enforce the change.  For without it, the tragedy won’t be just one press polemicist’s grim remarks but the ongoing pandemic that is people taking their own lives.

With thanks to Sharron Moffatt for being a legend, reviewing and inspiring these sentiments and Steve Phillip for his ongoing encouragement, inspiration and willingness to share.

Stuart Carroll is currently a Expert Policy Adviser in the UK Vaccines Taskforce and is a senior health economist and epidemiologist specialising in infectious diseases, vaccines and public health.   Stuart has worked in the area of public policy and has published widely across the public health space in peer review journals and international scientific conferences as well as through political think tanks and Members of Parliament. 
Stuart is also a dynamic mental health advocate and impassioned campaigner. He suffers from severe clinical depression and has been open about the need to eradicate stigma, increase awareness and ensure greater prevention and early years education.  He is a regular public speaker and also spoken openly about the need for so-called “elephants in the room” to be removed including suicide, workplace mental health, domestic abuse, and corporate bullying and harassment.  
Emanating from the North-East, Stuart is a passionate Newcastle United fan, lover of sports and music including songwriter and recording and fronting his band Stuart Carroll’s Black and White Stripes, and lives with his legendary cat Winston who has become world famous for his regular appearances on virtual meetings.  

How To Cope When Suicide Comes Knocking On Your Door

Image of a group of young people

“My experience of suicide is that it is the equivalent of a bomb going off in your living room while you’re sitting watching telly. Afterwards you’re astonished you’re alive, but everything has changed and you have a million shards of glass embedded in your soul. Some of them are so big they fall out straight away leaving gaping wounds. But the little pieces, they can take decades to work their way up to the surface.”

At some point in your life you will experience the loss of someone close – it’s the natural order of life, it’s what makes us appreciate our own mortality, it’s an inescapable part of who we are as humans. How that person dies though, will determine the level of pain and anguish you feel and often the intensity and the duration of grief you experience.

Any death is sad but a life cut short, at any age, perhaps by illness such as cancer, heart failure or more latterly Covid-19, will intensify the sadness and pain you feel. You may experience a range of emotions, such as helplessness or anger, despair, guilt, shock or the notion that you have been cheated out of sharing more time with this person. The more sudden or traumatic the nature of the death is likely to intensify your grief, as you struggle to make sense of what has happened – your feelings might range from trauma, helplessness and bewilderment, to anger at the injustice of what has happened. Those known to the deceased will share your feelings, to a lesser or greater extent, dependent on how close their relationship was to the person who died.

When someone we love dies, time can often help heal the sense of grief felt – the deceased will probably always be missed and the continuing sense of sadness and even anger, depending on the circumstances by which the person died, may never disappear completely but there will often be some sense of closure.

But, when someone takes their own life, something changes, there’s an added dimension to the nature and magnitude of grief experienced – grief from suicide somehow seems different, it’s unlike anything encountered when a death happens by almost any other means. Perhaps the reason for this difference is because there is often no sense of closure. When someone dies at the hands of another person, for instance, we know why they died, even if we are uncertain as to the motives of the killer. But when someone takes their own life, we can’t ask them why.

Each year some 6,500 people die by suicide in the UK, according to the Office for National Statistics. It is reported that each suicide impacts a further 135 people, this equates to conservatively 877,500 people who are impacted by suicide in the UK each year. These are startling facts and perhaps you’re like I was 14 months ago, blissfully unaware of these statistics and thinking that suicide will never come knocking on my door? I was very heavily shaken out of that blissful state one Wednesday afternoon in December 2019.

The reasons why someone chooses to take their own life are often complex. A lack of satisfactory explanation in the form of a detailed suicide note – perhaps no note at all – means, at best, we can only speculate but we can never really know what was going on in the mind of someone at the moment they chose suicide as a way out. Journals or conversations, reflected upon with the benefit of hindsight, may help put some of the pieces of this nightmarish jigsaw back in place but there will always be pieces of the puzzle missing – it is these missing pieces which create the ‘Ripple Effect’, a situation that often totally engulfs loved ones, family, close and even more distant friends, work colleagues and communities, all known to the deceased.

This article has 2 aims:

  1. For anyone considering taking their own life, not only as a way of escaping your own personal torment but because you believe ‘I will no longer be a burden to those who love me’, I want to share with you the ripple effect caused by my son Jordan’s suicide. I will describe the tsunami that engulfed us all in the immediate period following his death and how, 13 months later, after-shock waves continually threaten to drag many of those known to him back into the raging ocean time and time again.
  2. If you have been bereaved by suicide, I want to provide you with a sort of road-map, based on my own journey and the experiences of those I have spoken with personally or I have heard about through my research these past 12 months.

Some context first

You may have stumbled across my profile and my story only very recently. So, for some context, I’d recommend you read an article I published on December 16th 2019, just 3 weeks after Jordan’s suicide, the article is titled ‘The Day My Son Took His Own Life‘. This article achieved global reach on LinkedIn and generated personal responses from many LinkedIn users, including: psychologists; celebrities, such as Ariana Huffington; mental health professionals; those bereaved by suicide or worried that someone they knew might be considering taking their own lives, as well as the more unexpected messages from people who had either attempted suicide or were considering this as a route out of the pain and torment raging in their minds. It was this article which became the catalyst for me deciding to wind-up my 11-year consultancy and training company and devote the rest of my life to helping to improve the mental health of those who are struggling and prevent suicides, through the formation of The Jordan Legacy CIC.

 ‘Tell your friend that in his death, a part of you dies and goes with him. Wherever he goes, you also go. He will not be alone’. Jiddu Krishnamurti.

The tsunami that crashes over all of us

As I write this section of my article, I’m conscious that tomorrow – January 3rd – will be 12 months since Jordan’s funeral and cremation. It scarcely seems possible that a whole year has passed, the pain is still so raw, as is the expectation, even now, that he may still pick up the phone and call me or turn up at our front door and say “Hey Dad, I’ve been away but I’m ok and I’m back to stay”. This morning (January 2nd), I read an entry in my journal from January 5th 2019, which reads: ‘Woke this morning and have cried ever since – (names of Jordan’s mum, step-mum, sister and girlfriend) all feel the same this Sunday morning’

Jordan had a significant network of people who truly loved him, including 3 or 4 separate groups of very close friends, most of whom didn’t know the members of the other groups. Each cohort had at least one person who would tell you that they were Jordan’s best friend. Some of those friends read tearful eulogies at his funeral, others wept and one abiding memory I have, as the large crowd of mourners left the chapel car park, was that of a solitary young man standing waiting for me, with tears pouring down his face. It was a friend of Jordan’s from his primary school days. Although they hadn’t kept in touch as frequently as they might, they both shared wonderful childhood memories – this 6ft + man now stood in front of me totally bereft – we hugged.

More than 30 of Jordan’s work colleagues attended his funeral and recently, I received a package of letters, written by many of those who worked with him. Each shares a heartfelt message of sadness, along with stories recalled of happy and special moments, where Jordan’s unique cheerful and caring manner would always shine through. 12 months later his bosses and colleagues are running quizzes in his memory, they have renamed the tuck shop at their offices ‘Jordan’s Bar’ and they have numerous fundraising events planned in his memory and they all miss him.

Jordan’s girlfriend, Charlotte, who had her future mapped out 13 months ago – a loving relationship, a successful career and the thought of children along the way – she saw these ambitions all wiped out in an instant on December 4th 2019, the day she arrived at Jordan’s house to discover the most unimaginable experience of her young life.

I have spoken with and counselled a number of Jordan’s close friends, who have been equally traumatised by his death and the very nature of it – 13 months have passed and burly, 6ft+ male friends of his still break down at times when we message or speak about Jordan. Several weeks after his death, I received a letter from one of Jordan’s friends, who relates to Jordan as ‘my brother’. Such was the pain this young man shared in his letter and the guilt he felt also (like so many of us do still) that I collapsed in our dining room after reading what he’d written – my wife rushed home, aware I was struggling, to find me crumpled in a heap on the floor crying with physical pain.

And then there is Jordan’s family; his Mum, who struggles to find any joy in her life now, despite having a wonderful daughter (Jordan’s sister) and two amazing grandsons. Jordan’s sister, who, following his death, had to ‘be there’ for her boys, alongside their father Matt, both have barely had time to grieve – life doesn’t stop when you have young chidren but their sadness is evident. Jordan’s sister suffers an enormous sense of loss for a brother she grew up with and the recognition that she is now an only child – no Christmas or birthday cards will be given to or received from Jordan ever again, except those placed on his grave. Jordan’s step-mum, my wife, who embraced Jordan as if he were her own son, feels the sense of loss as much as anyone. Jordan’s Nana still struggles to get her head around ‘Why?’ and like me, she talks to photographs of Jordan regularly and asks him that question. And then there’s me.

My trauma manifested itself in various ways – on the outside, I took control, making arrangements for the funeral(s) and spent months dealing with Jordan’s affairs. 13 months on and we now have a buyer for Jordan’s house in Leeds – I know the day I hand over the keys will be yet another very difficult bump in an already very bumpy road.

As the months went by, I even managed to pull myself together to try and make something good come from Jordan’s suicide and established The Jordan Legacy CIC . Writing articles, such as this one helped – mostly they’re for the benefit of others but the process has been cathartic for me also.

During the early months I needed medication to help me sleep at night (most of Jordan’s family did) – Zopiclone being the family’s choice of sleeping tablet. I would also experience frequent involuntary head twitches and violent body contortions, which can only be likened to being forcefully punched in the stomach – these afflications, though eased now, still revisit me during times of stress, especially during moments of reflection, when I try and imagine what Jordan went through during his final moments.

The rituals and the memories gifted

Image of Jordan's family

When we grieve, we all do so in our own personal and unique way – sometimes we grieve collectively, such as when we all went away as a family to a remote mountainside cottage in the Lake District in February 2020. This photo shows one of the moments of joy, as we’d scaled a ‘mountain side’ in the freezing fog and mist and all screamed out “This is for you Jordan and we miss you”. The mood became much more sad and reflective at other times, such as when we were nestled by the fire in the evening, trying to make sense of what had happened, at a time when the news was starting to filter through about the suicide of celebrity TV presenter Caroline Flack.

As a family, we found some solace and sense of peace by coming together regularly, such as when we would go to Jordan’s house – his sister, Mum, step-mum, girlfriend (Charlotte) and me – to sort through his clothes and personal belongings. We would choose certain items, such as a watch or one of his favourite jackets, which we then gave to some of his closest friends. There was Jordan’s beloved Classic Mini Cooper which one of his closest friends accepted, very emotionally, as a gift from us – the two of them shared a passion for classic cars and they would often drive out together, his friend in his classic VW Golf and Jordan in his Mini – so many memories we have been able to gift to those who loved Jordan.

In the previous few paragraphs, I have shared just one percent of what we have gone through since Jordan took his own life. We are now beginning Year 2 of life without him – does it get easier? No – each date of significance is a reminder of what happened during 2019/20. Will it get easier? I don’t have a time machine to travel into the future, so that’s a question I’m unable to answer right now.

I hope my/our story has been useful in providing you with some insight into what bereavement from suicide is like. So what now?

“And I know what I have to do now. I gotta keep breathing. Because tomorrow the sun will rise and who knows what the tide could bring?”

Quote by Chuck Nolands, played by Tom Hanks, from the 2000 Movie ‘Castaway’

What is the impact on those bereaved by suicide?

In November 2020, I attended the National Suicide Bereavement Conference, an event, perhaps understandably, I was completely oblivious to before my son died by suicide. For the first time in its 9 year history, 2020’s conference was held online and attended by several hundred people from around the globe. You can visit this link and book to attend this year’s conference, which is scheduled to take place in Manchester, UK, on September 22nd 2021.

One of the most important aspects of this years Conference was the publication of the National Suicide Bereavement Report 2020. Led by Dr Sharon McDonnell, a team of researchers from The University of Manchester, in collaboration with Support After Suicide Partnership (SASP) conducted a national cross-sectional study examining the needs of people bereaved and/or affected by suicide. Data were collected between 26th September 2017 and 31st August 2018, via an anonymous online survey of more than 7150 people who had been bereaved by suicide.

Cover image of from Grief to Hope Report

Key findings from this report

82% of those who completed the survey reported that the suicide they had experienced had a major or moderate impact on their lives. Some of these adverse consequences included; a relationship breaking-up, loss of their job or experiencing financial problems, sometimes caused by getting involved in risky behaviours such as gambling or increased alcohol consumption. A fifth reported poor or deteriorating physical health and over a third of those surveyed reported mental health problems and this was particularly common for women.

The largest group of people completing the survey were health professionals, including doctors, nurses, psychologists, pharmacists, ophthalmic opticians, dental practitioners, veterinarians, medical radiographers, podiatrists and other health professionals.

477 (7%) respondents had experienced between four and 70 deaths by suicide, often this was due to the respondent’s work, usually health professionals (99, 26%), caring personal services (i.e. care workers, nursing auxiliaries and assistants; 43, 11%) and protective services (i.e. police, firefighters, prison officers; 35, 9%). The occupation with the highest exposure to suicide (70 instances) was a crime scene examiner. However, 40% of those who experienced more than four deaths worked in non-professional occupations such as caring and leisure services and administrative roles.

At the timing of writing this article, I want to give thought to all those front-line NHS employees, doctors, nurses and other care staff who are working under huge physical and mental duress looking after Covid sick patients

5,499 participants provided information about their relationship to the one significant person who had died by suicide, which showed that the most common relationship was the death of a friend (19%), followed by a parent (16%), sibling (16%) or a son/daughter (14%). There were 206 (4%) respondents who reported the significant death to be someone known through their occupation (i.e. a colleague or client).

I would recommend you taking a look at the report here. This is what we need to understand: the majority (77%) of respondents reported the suicide had a major impact on their lives. Whilst the majority (95%) of those who had lost a family member reported a major impact, around a quarter (23%) of those who had experienced a suicide of a patient or client and 24% of those affected by a death of a stranger also reported the death to have had a major impact on them.

Suicide has a ripple effect, it not only affects those directly related to the person who dies by suicide, the tsunami reaches far and wide. According to the ONS, each suicide costs the UK economy £1.69 million – most of this money is spent on supporting those bereaved by suicide. Now the biggy – many of those who have been affected are also at risk of dying by suicide!  38% of people bereaved by suicide state having suicidal thoughts, whilst 8% actually go on to attempt suicide.

“ The death had a vast impact on all areas of my life […]. My guard is always up. Financial life is a struggle. I feel that I am constantly trying to juggle things our son, work, money, housework. Many times you feel like you’re losing control and things are crashing down around you. I know I will be mentally scarred forever from my experiences. I will never be the same person again as I was. A part of me was shattered that day.”

How do you recover when you’ve been bereaved by suicide?

From my own experience, the journey toward recovery meant simply functioning – I had lost my son, a grown man yes, but he was still my little boy, who I first held on July 11th 1985, when the nurses on the maternity ward thrust this tiny, slightly bloodied bundle into my arms, as they had to urgently care for his mother following Jordan’s birth.

Image of Jordan's NHS baby tag following his birth

There is no roadmap for how to cope following the death of a loved one by suicide and your experience will be different to mine. What I did find lacking, in our own case though, was guidance. Who did I want guidance from? Well, the professionals for a start, the first responders, in particular the police. This a short summary of our own experience.

Following the immediate aftermath of Jordan’s girfriend discovering his body at his home and her call to me at 4:11pm on December 4th 2019, my first contact with anyone in a professional capacity was with a female police officer (WPC) who was attending the scene. By now, I was undertaking a 3-hour drive home from a client, in rush-hour traffic, knowing that my whole world was about to change. The WPC called me using Jordan’s girlfriend’s phone, introduced herself and calmly asked “Mr Phillip, do you have a funeral director or would you like us to arrange one for you?” Do I have a funeral director?! Really?! Does everyone have a funeral director, like they have a doctor, dentist, hairdresser, had I missed something here?! And where was the line “I’m sorry for your loss”?

There was no offer of a contact number provided to me by the WPC and no real explanation as to what would happen next – I just kept on driving.

During the next 24 hours, we all gathered together as a family and I visited Jordan’s house. Questions needed answering, the most important of which was where was Jordan? It took calls to the funeral directors and then in turn the coroner’s office (the number provided by the funeral director), to be told that a post mortem would be required and the process could take 7-10 days, possibly 2 weeks! But where was he, I want to see my son?! When, finally, we had an answer to that question, it took an incredible amount of pursuassion, on my part, to get the coroner to agree that myself and Jordan’s family could view his body in the mortuary chapel at Leeds Royal Infirmary, the day before his scheduled post mortem and 4 days following his death – 4 days felt like 4 months – all that time he’d been alone.

At Jordan’s home, the day following his death, we discovered an empty wallet on his kitchen table – was this the wallet he used regularly, if so, where were the contents, his credit cards, drivers license and where was his mobile phone and importantly, amid the chaos that day, Charlotte had noticed Jordan had written a suicide letter in a note book, where was this now? Receiving the answers to these questions would take 8 days.

I’d obtained the mobile number for the WPC from Charlotte and left voice and text messages without reply. I even starting phoning local police stations in North Yorkshire, unaware that it was West Yorkshire Police who were dealing with ‘our case’ but no one was returning my calls. Once I’d discovered which police force was handling Jordan’s case, I drove to a station, which was closest to where Jordan lived, in the hope of getting some answers and it was there that I was finally pointed in the right direction.

8 days following Jordan’s death, I finally received a call from the WPC; “Good morning, it’s (Name withheld) the police officer who attended your son’s house. Sorry I haven’t returned your call, I’ve been on annual leave” No “Hello Mr Phillip, I’m sorry I’ve not been able to reply and by the way, how are doing?” Where was the empathy and consideration and if she was annual leave, why didn’t another officer take on the family liaison role?

I wanted to share those few exchanges with you to emphasise a point and the point is this; when someone attempts suicide and the police are called to attend the scene, one, possibly 2 officers will turn up. When someone dies by suicide, a whole team of police attend the scene and yet there appears to be no specific resource dedicated to looking after those left behind, especially during the immediate aftermath.

What support is available post-suicide?

Some weeks after Jordan’s death and the publishing of my article on LinkedIn, I was approached by Andy Chapman. Andy is Suicide Prevention Lead at City of York Council and was with North Yorkshire Police for over 30 years, 11 of which he was a Hostage and Crisis Intervention Officer. Andy had seen my article and wanted to help – we soon became friends.

Early on in our conversations, Andy asked me what support we’d received as a family following Jordan’s suicide? I told him none. He then introduced me to a guide, produced by Public Health England, titled ‘Help Is At Hand’, you can download a copy here.

Help is at hand - Support after suicide guide

If you have been bereaved by suicide, this guide will help you:

  • understand what you may be feeling and the importance of talking to someone
  • what may start happening – such as letting people know / people you might meet in the first few days / contacting various services and organisations
  • understand how the suicide may affect you, depending on how you are related to the person who died i.e. Partner, Parent, Sibling, Friend etc
  • support someone who has been bereaved by suicide
  • understand how to simply get through each day and then how to face the future
  • by providing additional help and support resources.

This really is an excellent guide and I only wish we had been given access to a copy in those early days following Jordan’s death.

“My circle of friends and I were young (in our twenties/early thirties) and were not well equipped to deal with our friend’s suicide. We all, to a greater or lesser extent, self-medicated, partly because it was a cultural norm. While we felt supported by each other, we didn’t seek help or advice, and were all in a state of shock for several months. There were some positive aspects, for example a sense of putting things in perspective, but the effects were largely negative, and quite traumatising.”

There are many wonderful organisations out there, providing support if you have been bereaved by suicide and a number of these are listed here on The Jordan Legacy CIC’s website.

So, what is life like after you’ve lost someone to suicide and is it different to when you’ve lost someone by any other cause? I can honestly say for me, the answer is yes, it is different and it would seem that others I’ve spoken with feel much the same. In addition to the sadness and feeling of loss, other emotions can often surface, such as: anger, despair, fear, guilt, searching, shame, stigma, anxiety, numbness and confusion. You may or may not experience any or all of these emotions and feelings but if you do, you’re perfectly normal as far as being bereaved by suicide is concerned.

Where to now? Well, to requote Tom Hanks and his character Chuck Nolands: “And I know what I have to do now. I gotta keep breathing. Because tomorrow the sun will rise and who knows what the tide could bring?”

And I will keep breathing and keep putting one foot in front of another, moving forward and in my son’s memory, embrace his many incredibly wonderful traits and help provide a legacy of hope for others who are struggling to find reasons to continue living.

In closing, I invite you to join me online on Thursday, January 21st as I announce the launch of The Jordan Legacy CIC’s #HopeForLifeUK Day 2021, which is scheduled to take place every December 4th, from this year, the day my son chose to end his life.

Details of launch event can be found on our website here. During this 90-minute session, we will share our vision for #HopeForLifeUK Day and how you can help us in our mission to move toward a Zero Suicide community – we will also hear amazing stories of hope from a number of speakers on the day.

I hope you can join us.

Steve 🙏💙

Steve Phillip

For regular updates on developments at The Jordan Legacy, you can opt-in here and to donate and help support causes supported and managed by The Jordan Legacy, you can donate via our website here. Thank you for any support, which will be put toward services to help prevent suicide and the development of The Jordan Legacy Retreat.

Seasons, books, living and death

Notes on Suicide - The book

Since Jordan’s death, his girlfriend Charlotte has continually taken our breath away with her heartfelt and insighful blog posts. She writes regularly about trying to come to terms with his loss and the challenge of how to rebuild her life – a life that will never be the same again. This latest offering by Charlotte is another stunning piece of writing which takes a more reflective view of suicide which attempts to shy away from judgments and opinions of why people choose to end their own life.

Seasons, books, living and death by Charlotte Heathcote

This morning I woke up to a beautiful blanket of snow outside. Usually I’d think “Ah what a pain in the ass”, because it means you can’t go anywhere. BUT, today was different, I have nowhere to go, so I can take a walk and enjoy it. By the afternoon, the snow had pretty much all disappeared, and I went out for another walk as the sun was blazing and it looked gorgeous outside (and what else is there to do?) It was so weird to sit in the exact same spot just hours later, with it looking so different. It made me think about how quickly things can change, which is both terrifying and reassuring. Just as the weather changes, so does how we feel. I’ve never personally seen the appeal of wanting to move to somewhere without seasons, as I really love them all. Yes there are pros and cons to each season, but I find comfort in seasons changing, knowing that something new and different is round the corner again soon. I’ve noticed this more than ever this year, and now sitting here writing this at 4pm when it’s dark, I’m not necessarily as keen on winter as I was this morning out in the beautiful snow…

I’ve been reading a book recently, mainly in my reading spot in the woods that overlooks a beautiful bridge and stream. When speaking to my friend about the book I was reading, she laughed, and it hadn’t fully occurred to me how ridiculous it was that I was reading this particular book in the middle of the woods. I’ve become quite used to talking about and thinking about suicide this year, which of course, I wish I’d never had to do. But it has become a part of my every day now, and in some ways it always was because of my job. So my reading spot in the woods is so peaceful and beautiful, and this book fits perfectly in my coat pocket. I take my peppermint tea and walk the 10 minutes to my spot, by which time my tea is perfect drinking temperature. The title of the book I’ve just finished reading is called ‘Notes on suicide’… I know it sounds very scary, and it is quite heavy (as you can imagine from the title). But it’s written for the purpose of taking a more reflective view of suicide that attempts to shy away from judgments and opinions of why people choose to end their own life. As I write that, I reflect on what I think may have led to Jordan making this choice, and I’m really not sure that it was a ‘choice’ for him, which is why I’m still not sure on my own use of language around suicide.

So as you can imagine, my friend found it quite amusing that I was reading this particular book in the middle of the woods. I hadn’t thought about it much, but passers by might become slightly concerned by this, so I’ve started to place the cover firmly in my lap so as not to alarm anyone. I don’t mean to use humour in any disrespectful way, but actually humour has got me through the last year quite a lot, and I feel more comfortable now with my own use of humour, because I find that sometimes it’s just what you need to lift you out of the darkness. I also thought about Jordan seeing me reading this book in the woods, and thinking what he would say to me. I love when friends make jokes that I know Jordan would find hilarious, because they know my humour, and our sense of humour as a couple was so similar. Listening to Griefcast has helped me to feel more comfortable with use of humour around grief and death, as the host interviews comedians specifically, and it just helps me to feel more that what I’m going through is ‘normal’.

The book refers a lot to dialectics, which I only know the meaning of through my studies- so without being a patronising dick, it basically means holding two ideas simultaneously, which I think I’ve also spoken about before. There is so much loaded language, judgements, ideas, and beliefs about suicide and why this happens to people. We want to have an ‘answer’, and it’s easier to latch onto a single idea and believe it, rather than holding in mind multiple ideas that somehow make so much less sense. I’ve tried to find one understanding, one idea, one belief, that explains why Jordan did this (or why this happened to him), but I end up flitting around a bit from one idea to the next. I hated the idea of being angry at him, because how could I ever be when I also had so much empathy for his pain? But actually, I think reading this book has helped me to hold onto all the multiple, sometimes seemingly opposing ideas about suicide, and the feelings I’ve had since losing Jordan. Just as every single human being lives their life differently, and we never fully know what it’s like to be someone else, the reasons for someone taking their life are likely to be individual to that person, with lots of overlapping factors between different people. I’m not sure if I mentioned this before, but I remember once reading something written by someone who’d attempted suicide, which is the closest we will ever get to fully understanding the experience of getting to that point- in the post, she wrote that suicide happens when many things come together in the most awful way, which made a lot more sense to me than thinking that suicide happens for one reason. I think about this when I think of the things I ‘could’ or ‘should’ have done for Jordan that might have changed the outcome. I also recognise that anything that had happened up until that point I would question today- every single small detail of my time with Jordan before he died would have played on my mind and I would have questioned it.

It sounds really grim, but I’ve thought about what others would experience if I were to take my own life, having now been through what myself and Jordan’s loved ones have been through. I imagine the awful torment that my loved ones would go through not only from the grief, pain and trauma of losing me, but of the guilt they would experience in replaying their last interactions with me, the ‘what ifs’ they’d ask themselves, the ‘I should have done’s’ etc. I have the most incredible friends and family, and none of them would be at fault if I were to take my own life, but yet they would undoubtedly experience all of the same things that myself and Jordan’s loved ones have experienced. Sorry, I know this sounds dark, but all this stuff has actually helped me, and my honesty may be a bit upsetting to even think about. I’ve been to pretty much every place in my mind I think in the last year, and it’s fucking painful, but also necessary to try and process all of what has happened.

I’ve spoken to my counsellor about the fear of death after losing someone you love, which can be even more pronounced when you lose someone young or suddenly. I reflected that I worried so much about others in my life dying, and this anxiety is awful, but also a very normal response to have. I realised during my session though that I hadn’t thought about the possibility of myself dying, and actually became really upset talking about it, as it almost felt like I hadn’t even cared enough about myself over the past year to reflect on the impact that losing Jordan had had on how fragile my own life was. It really shocked me, and I began to think more about the precariousness of life generally, including my own. Tomorrow is not promsied, and other tragic events recently have made me even more aware of that. My counsellor said that in their training, they have to reflect a lot of the idea of facing their own mortality, and I started thinking about doing this too. I know this all sounds depressing, but I actually don’t think it is. Losing someone you love and care about is so devestating, and shatters your entire view on life, on the world, and of yourself. But I got to thinking about this idea that maybe we can only fully start living when we face the fact that one day, we too are going to die? I think in Western culture particularly, we really try to avoid talking about death, and then we really don’t know how to manage grief when it comes along (not that there’s any right or wrong way to ‘manage’ it). I’m not going to go into this too much, but I do really think we need to talk about death more. I think it would help others a lot when they do get to that awful point of grieving for a loved one, and feel alone. I talk about something related to losing Jordan every day without fail, and I have wondered if me continuing to talk about Jordan dying means that I’m not ‘moving forward’ with life, and that I’m in some way ‘stuck’. But actually, it’s quite the opposite. All of this stuff is helping me to move forward in some way. I don’t take huge great leaps every day where I go “OMG I’M FINE NOW LOOK AT ME”, and that day will never come. Just as the weather changes, so do my feelings, because I’m human, as we all are. There’s a nice metaphor that I use with my patients sometimes that talks about you being the sky, which can’t be harmed by the ever-changing weather, which represents your thoughts/feelings/experiences. I find this idea quite comforting when I’m feeling overwhelmed.

As I’m sat here writing this, I have that tight feeling in my chest, which has lingered again a bit in the past few days (not helped by the alcohol running through my veins). I have tried fighting it a bit in various ways, mainly panicking and over-thinking. But then I decided to try and let it be. Feeling anxious in grief is a totally normal experience. You’ve had your book of life ripped up and thrown into the wind. Rather than desperately scrambling around and piecing them back together, I’ve decided to let the pieces come back to me, whilst writing new pages every day (love a metaphor don’t I). I panic so much thinking about the future, particularly in the midst of a pandemic. But do you know what, we REALLY do only have today. We have this moment, right here, right now (see it’s gone already).

I have had moments recently where I’ve begun to feel lighter in lots of ways, but also heavier in other ways (dialectics again…) One thing I often get is a sudden burst of “OMG I NEED TO START LIVING”, then I realise that we’re still in the midst of a pandemic, so can’t exactly go off and travel the world. But actually, I’m still living. There are many many things I wish I could do right now that none of us can, but it doesn’t mean that I can’t find small things in each day to enjoy and be thankful for. As well as having other points in the day where I feel sad, anxious, angry, or lonely. I was thinking earlier of how lonely this pandemic must feel for so many, and I’m not sure I feel lonely very often, despite spending a lot of time alone (with my special human cat of course). I definitely wish I could be around people more, because I get so much of my energy from being around people, and feel truly at my happiest when I’m surrounded by others. But loneliness is a state of mind for many, as much as it is felt by others who are physically alone. The differences in people’s situations during this pandemic is just crazy- people at home constantly with children, people living alone, people living in relationships where there is domestic violence, people living with relatives that they wouldn’t usually, couples who have recently had a baby and so on… Those who know me will know that I’ve always wanted to be a mum, and it’s something I think about a lot when I think about my life and the future. Admittedly, I look at people who have had babies this year with envy because it’s something I know I want in life, and I think this is a pretty normal emotion (but feels a bit exposing to admit). But then I think of how difficult it must have been to have a baby this year, and how you could quite easily have felt very alone, as a new parent without being able to be surrounded by loved ones as you usually would when you have a child. I guess what I’m trying to say is that you never really know what someone else is going through, and many people will be grieving right now because they’ve lost someone/several people in this awfully difficult year. But people are also grieving in different ways, such as grieving the loss of times with loved ones who are still with us, but who we aren’t able to be with at this point in time.

Life is really weird right now, and I just want to HUG EVERYONE because how bloody nice would that be? I miss people lots, but know there are brighter days ahead. For now, we have this moment, so if you are with a loved one that you’re allowed to hug, please hold them tight. If you are alone, look after yourself in every way you can, and use this time to connect with yourself. Again, would never claim that I’m great at this and I’m working on it, but at the end of the day, no one is meant to spend this much time on their own, so it’s normal to resist it at times too. I’m not really setting resolutions this year, but I am bringing this sense of lightness into the New Year. Interestingly the other day when I was looking inward and feeling this weird sense of lightness and thinking “WHAT THE FUCK, WHY DO I FEEL LIGHTER?” my friend sent me my horoscope (I quite like horoscopes etc but know they’re not for everyone)- this is a caption from what it said:

“This year you’re about to shift into a different modality of existence. Maybe you got used to old ways and old heaviness so much that you’ll need some time to get used to this lighter energy and your lighter movement through this dense reality. During this year you will be challenged to accept easier ways of going through life, to accept lighter situations, lighter people, brighter topics, funnier side of stories and simpler truths. You are challenged to become less serious, to become more relaxed, to use your specific sense of humour and to cheer up others around you with your doses of wisdom. You are challenged to combine your tough experiences, your lessons, your earned wisdom and earned knowledge with humour, with vigor, with enthusiasm, with uplifting energy”

And actually, this really fits with my hopes for the next year. I’ve had a bloody heavy year, as many others have, and I don’t claim that 2021 will bring all the lightness, but I have hope, and for now, I have this moment.

This is a link to the original article published by Charlotte, where you’ll find other posts in her series of blogs titled ‘An account of my journey through grief, without a road map’

Charlotte Heathcote

Charlotte Heathcote is a Clinical Psychologist by background, having worked with individuals, families, and systems within the NHS for over 7 years. Charlotte specialises in working with adults with severe and enduring mental health problems, but also has extensive experience in working with other populations across a range of settings, including prison, inpatient and community.

On 4th December 2019, Charlotte’s life as she knew it changed forever, when she came home to find that Jordan had taken his own life. Charlotte’s motivation for the mission of the Jordan Legacy is clear; she vows to dedicate her professional career to supporting work that aims to reduce rates of suicide, in Jordan’s memory.

Charlotte has a particular passion for influencing change within our mental health systems, and changing societal views around suffering and mental health. Tackling the issue of suicide is multi-faceted, and Charlotte is dedicated to addressing this issue from all angles.

What Nobody Says after a Death by Suicide

Five years ago, my brother committed suicide.

While every February 22nd has been hard since he passed away, five years seemed like a benchmark, a time to re-evaluate what is and was.

I lost a bit of my identity after it happened. Even to this day the generic questions of: “So, do you have any siblings?” or “Tell me about your family” catch me up. On occasion I lie, say I’m an only child—if only to save myself from the sad looks and uncomfortable silence that comes when they don’t know what to say.
The truth of the matter is that for 29 years, I had a brother. I was a sister. I came from a family of four.

For the past five years, I’ve belonged to a family of three, and I am a sister to no one.

It’s taken a minute to get comfortable in this new skin, this new way of defining and describing myself, it’s also taken this long to truly understand and process the kind of grief that comes from a suicide.

Grief is a strange and many faceted monster.

Grief from suicide fills its own entire category.

Don’t get me wrong, the passing of any loved one will always be difficult; suicide-related grief is just different. On top of the sadness and loss, there are feelings of guilt, anger, bewilderment, confusion, alienation, shame, and more guilt. It took me a long time to find some semblance of closure. There was no note, so everything was left shrouded in mystery and unanswered questions. Any theory or reasoning we could come up with was purely supposition.

Five years later, I still have to deal with and process the pangs of grief I get randomly hit with, which has led me to reflect on how it has shaped the person I am today.

Looking back, if there was one thing I wished I had during the aftermath, it would be honesty and true connection with someone who had been in my shoes. I knew there were a handful of support groups and other resources I could take advantage of, however, I never felt comfortable participating in something like that. It wasn’t a platform that resonated with me.

Unfortunately, all my closest friends and family had never experienced a loved one committing suicide and they were at a loss as to what they could do or say. They were amazing, supportive, and compassionate, but unless they had experienced it firsthand, they just didn’t get it. I was getting sad looks, generic and stereotypical clichés of: “time heals all wounds” and “you’re strong, you’ll get through this.”

With all the “take it one day at a time’s,” I was starting to feel like I was at an AA meeting!

Looking back, more than anything, I wish someone would have been willing to be real with me, be honest.

I wish someone would have said something like:

Your life is going to suck, for a long time. You are going to be in pain, for a long time. It’s going to be difficult to take a deep breath, for a long time. The mundane banalities of life are going to seem monumental. Being out in public will feel like a chore. So be gracious with yourself.

But, one day, you will wake up and take a deep breath without it catching. You will be able to smile without your face feeling so stiff, and you will find yourself laughing again in pure joy. When those moments come, you will realize your world is starting to turn again, slowly perhaps, but turning all the same. You’ll inch forward in life, building yourself up block by block, and life will start to reach a new equilibrium. But don’t be fooled, grief is still lurking in the shadows. You might be walking down the street and see someone who resembles your loved one and be winded by the shock, or something may remind you of them out of the blue and you’ll be paralyzed, and the moment will pass as quickly as it came on.

Something along those lines. I wish I had raw honesty to help guide me through.

In addition to honesty, the other element of the grieving process I wish I was warned about that no one seems to talk about, is the grieving of oneself.

I heard things like: “you’ll be back to yourself in time” and “eventually things will be normal again.” Unfortunately, this was untrue. I needed to accept a harsh reality: I was never going to be the same person I was. Having gone through this experience, I was fundamentally and innately changed. I needed to be willing to grieve the person I was, and be open and accepting of the person I was becoming.

I remember who I was, and I am still getting to know the person I am now.

It’s been five years, and I still see my brother in passing people, five years and I still feel empty space, which is now filled with just his memory. Five years of learning how to live without this person in my life.

I have grown so much in this time; learned about strengths, weaknesses, and capabilities I never knew I had. My brother’s life and now his death will be forever with me and they have become a part of my story. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t been scarred by his suicide, but it is a well-healed scar I carry lightly.

There is no right or wrong way to grieve a suicide, whatever one feels and how they deal with it are all valid. Everyone is entitled to process in whatever way seems right for them.

While mental health and suicide are becoming more widely accepted topics of conversation, I don’t hear much about the aftermath for the loved ones of a suicide victim. For all who are still mired in the trenches of grief, know you are not alone in how you feel, and know there is no need to feel embarrassed or ashamed.

I am writing this to be brave, open and honest about my experience, and because I no longer feel the need to sugar coat things to make it more comfortable for other people.

If reaching out to an organization or support group isn’t a comfortable option, my hope for those who are experiencing this kind of loss, is for you to remember you are not alone, and there is a whole community of survivors of suicide silently holding you up.

This article was first published Laura Dart on elephantjournal.com on May 5th 2020. Laura describes herself as a blunt, raw, no punches pulled survivor of suicide. Dedicated to facilitating open and honest conversations surrounding mental health, and finding meaning from grief. You can follow Laura on Instagram by clicking here.

The Day My Son Took His Own Life Part 2:

Photo of Jordan with his beloved cat Tabby

The experience of suicide loss, the ‘must do something’ syndrome, then actually doing something

Well that was surreal – I’ve just delivered an online LinkedIn training session for the Senior Management Team at a global company. Everything about this training session echoed the old me – I was prepared and delivered the training with my usual direct and enthusiastic style, even throwing in a few of my best Dad jokes for good measure.

Judging by the feedback, the training was well received. So, why did I feel like shit afterwards?

Why did I have this huge surge of guilt immediately following the training and why did I feel that I shouldn’t be able to do what I just did and I certainly shouldn’t be laughing and joking? After all, these people have seen my LinkedIn profile, they know I lost my son to suicide just 8 months ago – what must they think; “Maybe he’s doing alright, perhaps he’s got over it?”

If you’re reading this and you don’t know my story, then my original article; The Day My Son Took His Own Life, will provide some context. For now, let me summarise by sharing an excerpt from that article:

Image of Jordan on holiday

“In the days since Jordan took his own life, we’ve all tried to imagine how he could have reached such a point. How could he have seen no other option but to leave us? Perhaps I’ve been able to better understand, having spoken with a couple of people who experienced severe ‘depression’ and not just felt depressed (there’s a difference). They describe a feeling as if they’re being sucked down into a spiralling black hole – “you’re reaching up with your arms to prevent yourself been totally consumed but realise that is futile and you simply let go.”

Jordan once explained to his sister that he often felt detached from himself – it was as if what was happening wasn’t actually happening to him, instead he was watching it happening to someone else. Is that what he experienced when he took those final actions on December 4th, we’ll never know of course?

The Reality

When someone takes their own life, especially someone who was loved by so many, as Jordan was, they don’t mean to hurt us but hurt we do. I sometimes think that if we could have shown Jordan a movie of the aftermath of what he did, maybe he would have stepped back and not gone through with it. Sensibly, I understand that severe depression is not something you can reason with.

The reality is that when you take your own life, someone and most likely someone dear to you, will be the first to find you and they’ll live with that image for the rest of their lives. Your family will have to come to your house (if the death takes place at your home) afterwards and they will have to clear away your unfinished bowl of porridge, the last glass of water you half drank.

They might be faced with the smiling gas engineer turning up at your house to service your boiler but instead he’ll be asked to show your stunned family members how to set the boiler to low for now.

From the MIND leaflet we found, to the Doctors appointment card for 2 days time, to the shopping list, all laying on the kitchen table, it was as if we’d walked into a movie, where the action had stopped – all those simple things he was still planning to do.

In the days since, we’ve huddled together as a family, sitting mainly in silence for the first few days and we’ve cried a lot. We’ve had to make visits to the funeral directors and discuss our son’s funeral and then, due to the nature of Jordan’s death, we got to go see Jordan in the mortuary chapel in Leeds General Infirmary, a day prior to his post mortem. As I’m writing this, I have just received a call from the Coroner’s office, to let me know that they are releasing Jordan to the funeral directors today.”

That original article was published just 3 weeks following Jordan’s death. I knew I had to get everything off my chest and write it down. Not that I would ever forget the immediate impact of Jordan’s suicide on our lives but with time, I knew that some of the detail would fade from my mind

You Don’t Recover, You Simply Learn To Work Around It

There is no rule book for how to behave when your child dies suddenly and there’s certainly no road map for when that death is by suicide. People will give you plenty of well-meaning advice, some of which is helpful but, in every case, it’s always someone else’s perspective and not yours.

‘Time is a healer’, is probably the most frequent message I’ve received but it’s not. Perhaps, what they mean is that, with time, you learn how to function – I won’t heal, how can I heal?

Just like someone who’s had a limb amputated, that limb will never grow back and with that, Jordan will never be alive again – I won’t hear my phone ring with his tone, we won’t exchange WhatsApp messages, as we jointly despair, when our beloved Arsenal fail (just), again, to achieve the season they continually promise to. And finally, in 2020, they actually win the FA Cup Final and I go to message Jordan and suddenly, I’m reminded that my WhatsApp message will be ‘send only’.

I won’t ever welcome Jordan with a hug as he walks in through our front door and I won’t feel the stubble of his beard or smell his aftershave as father and son embrace.

Image howing a model of how grief works following a bereavement

The Day My Son Took His Own Life

4:22 pm, Wednesday December 4th 2019, I receive a call to my mobile, a call that will change my life forever. The call is from Charlotte, the girlfriend of my son Jordan.

Me: “Hi Charlotte?”

Charlotte: “Hi Steve, I’m so sorry, I’m so, so sorry, it’s Jordan…

This was the article Jordan’s father published on LinkedIn, just 3 weeks after Jordan’s suicide. It was viewed around the world and led to the creation of The Jordan Legacy.

View the article here 

How To Cope If You’ve Lost Your Job Due To The Lockdown

Anxiety, stress, depression, suicide

Almost daily, I’m having conversations with people who have lost their jobs due to the lockdown caused by Coronavirus or with people who know someone who has been furloughed or laid off.

As we watch the daily news headlines and even allowing for some level of sensationalism and repetition by the news channels, as they hourly loop the same stories, there can little question that many businesses who have closed their doors in recent months are simply not going to re-open – as a result many people will lose and are losing their jobs.

Anxiety, stress, depression, suicide

However, signifcantly more concerning are the people who are taking their own lives as a result of losing their jobs and the worry and anxiety caused by feelings of hopelessness, uncertainty, worries about their family’s wellbeing and a total fear and uncertainty about the future. Just this morning a lady messaged me to explain that she knew of 3 people who had completed suicide after losing their jobs.

These discussions and messages have led me to put together some tips and advice that I will share with you here. I hope that what follows will help you or anyone you know, who is worried about the loss of their job or concerned about their finances, finding a new job, their loss of status and self-worth or even feeling low about no longer having a daily routine because they’re no longer going to work.

All of these worries can lead to feelings of shock, anger and despair, which can soon become overwhelming and ultimately totally debilitating – in the worst case, you may decide enough is enough!

6 Steps to keeping on top of your anxiety

  1. Accept how you’re feeling

Firstly, recognise that it’s ok to feel angy, shocked, sad, fearful and worried but rather than letting these feelings rule you, try removing the emotion. Take yourself off somewhere and note down each of the most powerful emotions you’re experiencing and ask yourself, why am I feeling a sense of shock, why am I feeling angry, what is creating this sense that everything is hopeless? Take time to write down your answers and in doing so, this should help you look at each of these feelings more objectively and less emotionally – if nothing else, you should feel calmer

2. Identify what you can deal with

You can’t change the fact that Covid-19 is a reality, you can’t directly influence Government policy surrounding lockdown, you can’t change the fact you’ve lost your job or been furloughed. But, you can look at which aspects of your finances you might be able to cut back on, you can sit down with your partner and family and discuss a plan of action together, you can start to consider what you might look to do for your next career role and perhaps even start making some enquiries. Be careful though, not to spend all day, every day, job searching as this will soon wear you down.

stress, anxiety, depression, suicide

Consider taking up a new hobby – what is something you’ve always wanted to do, which doesn’t cost a fortune but somehow, work or other stuff just got in the way before – what’s stopping you now?

Each incremental action you take, will soon create momentum and not only make you feel more positive but will actually move you away from those fears that are currently holding you back and creating feelings of anxiety.

3. Movement, fresh air and routine are crucial

You can’t extricate yourself from your current situation if you’re still laying in bed. Make sure you are sticking to a daily routine. Go to bed at the same time you did when you were working, set your alarm and get up at the same time. Make sure you shower and get dressed – you don’t need to be all suited and booted but at least make an effort for your family, those Zoom calls and the Amazon delivery guy!

stress, anxiety, depression, suicide

Plan tasks for the day, split between those jobs that need doing at home and planning your next career move. Include a walk, run, cycle in the fresh air (really important). The therapeutic benefits of gardening are now widely documented also, so get that border sorted.

4. Accept what is happening and that it’s not a reflection of you

None of us really knows when this pandemic will end and focusing on things you can’t change is not healthy or productive. It’s important to recognise that these are unchartered waters for us all and knowing that you’re not alone in having these fears might help you accept the situation better – a problem shared, is a problem halved sometimes. Remember that ‘this too shall pass’, lockdown will ease, the virus will be contained, job opportunities will appear again, you will get through this. It may take time though, so be prepared to hang in there and implement the suggestions mentioned earlier.

5. Keep healthy

If you’re going to do those jobs around the home, whilst re-shaping your resume and sending out job applications or connecting with useful people on LinkedIn, you’re going to need energy. Poor mental health, caused by worry and anxiety can deplete your energy resources significantly.

It’s important to keep your energy levels at their optimum by maintaining a healthy sleep regime, reduce the number of snacks or ready meals you’re consuming, keep hydrated – alcohol will not hydrate you – keep mobile by making sure you’re not sitting down for longer than 30 minutes at a time and take regular aerobic exercise, preferably outdoors.

stress, anxiety, depression, suicide

Keeping healthy is as much about your mental health as it is your physical wellbeing. Mindfulness is becoming an increasingly popular pastime – using a combination of meditative techniques and breathing. Mindfulness can be hugely beneficial in helping reduce feelings of anxiety – 2 great mindfulness apps are Calm and Headspace.

Reading those books you alway meant to catch up on, might be another good past-time to help keep your mind occupied – nothing too dark or depressing though.

Contributing to others is proven to help reduce our own worries. Is there a charity you’d like to volunteer some time to help or perhaps you know of someone else who is struggling in some way who you can be there for? Recently and since my son, Jordan, took his own life, I’ve have received many messages from people asking how they can support The Jordan Legacy foundation – many of these people are without work right now.

6. Don’t do this alone

If you are feeling a sense of complete hopelessness and despair then it could be that you’re simply not motivated to do any of the things outlined above. If you have reached this point, then it’s important to recognise two things:

1) This feeling is temporary, this situation is not permanent – do not consider taking the ultimate ‘permanent solution’ to what is absolutely a temporary situation.

2) Ask for help – ask your family, a close friend or contact any of the services I have listed below, many of whom are trained to support you and who will listen and help you find a solution, please use them.

1. Visit your local hospital’s A&E department or ask for an Emergency Doctor’s appointment without delay.

2. Call The Samaritans – call for free to 116 123 (UK and Ireland) – You can Visit website

3. Other international suicide helplines can be found at here.

4. Hub of Hope – if you are struggling with your mental health, Hub of Hope provides help locally to you. Just add your postcode and you’ll have immediate access to a GP, psychotherapist etc – Visit site 

4. Doc Ready – if you need to speak to a doctor about your mental health, knowing what to say, when you’re under stress, can be difficult and you may omit important information. Doc Ready provides a template for you to write out what you need to ask the Doctor before you speak with them – Visit site

5. Shout – : is a free text service 85258, where you are immediately put through to trained individual who can help if you are in crisis – Visit site

6. The Listening Place – get in touch for face-to-face support if you feel life is no longer worth living. You can Visit site

There are times in life when there just seems no point, no way out and all the cards seem stacked against you. I felt this way and so did my family and my son definitely did when he chose to take his own life in December 2019. We still have a choice now about how we move forward, tragically Jordan doesn’t – don’t be that person who takes a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

 

Steve Phillip is Head of Mission at Champion Health Ltd, the founder of Linked2Success Limited, an established LinkedIn and social selling training and motivational speaking consultancy since 2009 and the founder of The Jordan Legacy, an organisation set up in his son’s memory, which has the following mission:

To reduce the frequency of completed suicides by; improving people’s mental well-being and the support available; reducing people’s sense of social isolation and by encouraging the development of a kinder society where people feel a sense of achievement for who they are not what they have. 

Steve Phillip - The Jordan Legacy

For regular updates on developments at The Jordan Legacy, you can opt-in here and to donate and help support causes supported and managed by The Jordan Legacy, you can donate via our website here. Thank you for any support, which will be put to very good use.

Imagine a world without labels

Anxiety label

If you are reading this blog there is a good chance you are concerned about your own mental health or that of a loved one. Perhaps you have already sought help from doctors, therapists, friends, family and even Facebook. By this point you may well have had a diagnosis and be wondering what the label you have been given might mean for your future.

I remember my own experience of getting the label of being depressed. My diagnosis was very sudden. The morning it happened, I had gone to work as normal but by mid-morning, I had walked out of work, gone to the doctors, and been diagnosed with depression. This led to a year off work from my job as a Headteacher and in fact meant that I never actually went back.

Perhaps you remember the first, time you heard your diagnosis, that label of mental ill health. Maybe you remember how that felt. Do you remember how that impacted on how you viewed yourself?

Once I had that label of depression, I spent a lot of time looking for answers. For the whole year I was off work, I was reading, seeing therapists, and absorbing self-help content. I was trying to ‘fix’ myself because I thought that my diagnosis confirmed that I was broken. This continual seeking also gave me a truly clear picture of how someone with depression might behave and feel. I could spot those symptoms easily and ended up reinforcing that label repeatedly. I continued with this way of looking at mental ill health when, a year after walking out of work, I resigned, and I was invited to train as a hypnotherapist. I then began my own journey to ‘fix’ people, who at that time I viewed as broken.

As I began to meet clients and other people, I would tell the story of what happened to me. After a while, I noticed that I would use the phrase “my depression” or “I was depressed”. Then I realised, that it was not mine and I did not want it back. When I started saying “the depression” instead, I noticed how I became more detached from it.

Over the last few years, I have helped many people to feel better and a lot of my work has been focused around helping people attain mental health. Early on, I realised that labels like anxiety and depression, were not supporting people on their healing journeys and that people saying “my anxiety” or “my depression” were not being helped by these labels.

More recently I have come to understand this even more deeply. No-one is anxious or depressed or any other label. People who have been given the label anxiety have anxious thinking which leads to anxious feelings. People who have been given the label depressed have depressing thinking which leads to depressing feelings. Our thinking does not make us who we are. We are not our thinking. We are not those labels we have adopted or been given.

The impact of this is significant in how we view ourselves and those labels. As soon as you have a label, there is a good chance that you will be noticing the aspects of your responses to life and feelings which support that view. You will not be doing that consciously, but it will be going on; that is just how the mind works. The firmer you are in that label, the more thinking like the label you will experience, and this will reinforce those feelings over and over.

It is similar to how we were trained to speak to children about their behaviour when I was headteacher. The guidance was to never label the child e.g. as ‘naughty’ but always describe the behaviour, e.g. ‘What you did then was not kind’. This is because, the more the child hears the label, the more they believe that to be true about themselves. They then become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Perhaps you can see how that might work in terms of mental ill health labels.

Now imagine a different way of looking at mental health.
Imagine that every single one of us is innately well.
Imagine that we are all just one thought away from mental health.
Imagine if we are not our labels.

Imagine if every single person you ever spoke to on your journey to find relief from your symptoms really believed that you were healthy; that you were just experiencing some thinking that had taken you away from your innately well self for a while.

I wonder how that would change things for you and every other person who has fallen into the belief that they are broken and need fixing. Imagine the language around mental health just changed slightly from ‘You have anxiety/ depression etc’ or ‘You are anxious/ depressed’ to ‘You are experiencing anxious thinking/ depressive thinking etc’. How much of a difference would that make to how we treated people and ourselves around this issue?

There are two things which I would like you to take away from reading this article. Two things which I suspect might start to change how you view mental health.

1. You are not your thinking; your thinking is something which you experience but is not you.
2. You are not your label; you just have some thinking which sometimes takes you away from who you really are.

If there is just one thing for you to do, just begin today by noticing how you speak about yourself in term of labels. Try ‘anxious thinking’ or ‘depressed thinking’ instead of ‘my anxiety (anxious)’ or ‘my depression (depressed)’ and see how that feels.

And if you would like to talk more about this different way of looking at mental health, please get in touch.

Clare is a Transformational Coach, who uses her own lived experience to help professionals who are experiencing stress and burnout to improve their wellbeing and live a more balanced and less stressful life.

Visit her website here for more information

Clare Downham - Stress and transformational coach

This is not the beginning – thoughts from Jordan’s girlfriend

image of a solitary tree

“Since losing the love of my life to suicide four months ago, I have woken up every day with thoughts of what I did wrong, what I could have done differently, how I could have saved him. These thoughts aren’t only there when I wake up; they follow me through the day like a headache you just can’t shake. “This is your fault,” they tell me. “You are to blame for what happened to Jordan”, “You should have known’.”

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‘We keep him close, always’: how I survived the loss of my teenage son

Image of Thomas Harding whose 14 year old son died in front of him

‘Seven years ago, my 14-year-old son, Kadian, was killed in a road accident. This is the advice I’d give myself back then. The first thing I would say to my seven-year-younger-self is this: I am so sorry for your loss. I am so, so sorry for your loss.

There are some people who will struggle to say this. Who will be awkward and embarrassed and overwhelmed. But not me. Plain and simple, this is a catastrophe. It is horrible. Terrible. Disgusting. Awful. Life-changing and unfair.

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