In society, the misconception that someone who has what others would perceive as ‘everything’ cannot be suicidal still lingers. However, from an outside perspective, Amelia Franklin had a fulfilling life.
She was a mother of two little girls – three and seven months old –, she was a partner, a sister, a daughter, a well thought of friend to many and a valued member of her workplace.
She was successful with a job she loved, but more importantly, she was loved by all around her.
Amelia was 35 years old when she took her life back in 2021.
Amelia was not someone who people often worried about. She was the “funny friend” with the dark humour, and the person who everyone turned to when they were in need of a smile and support.
“She was a problem solver and the one always helping everyone else,” says Amelia’s brother Ed. “All her friends have said she was the person that they turned to when they had their own problems, she was straight round to their homes. She was the rock for everyone, and everyone absolutely loved her. She was a huge presence in so many people’s lives, but tragically didn’t feel she could go to people in the way they came to her.”
After losing her mum when she was eight, Amelia had grown a strong bond with her brother and dad. The three shared a humour which has been branded the ‘Franklin humour’ by others, and as a family they were open, close and supportive. While the death of their mum left an absence in all their lives, Ed shares that it was not often spoken about and its true impact on Amelia was something she hid for much of her life.
Ed says, “Our mum had an aneurism when I was 13 and Amelia was eight. She’d gone to hospital and during an operation, she suffered severe brain damage which meant she couldn’t talk, couldn’t do anything. She stayed in the hospital before going to a care home for the final five years she lived. In hindsight now, I think Amelia probably used her humour to put a brave face on it all.
“I’ve learnt from her partner that around the anniversary of our mum’s death, Amelia would shut herself away, it really impacted her in a more significant way than we realised. I realise now there was this long shadow from what had happened, but she was hiding her emotions and was very good at it.”
At 32, Amelia gave birth to her first daughter. Describing his sister as a “wonderful mother”, Ed says Amelia was a “natural” and everyone who witnessed her in the early days of motherhood would comment on how “calm and relaxed” she was – it came easy to her.
Three years later, Amelia gave birth to her second child, however unlike her first, the journey both pre and postnatal was sadly not as positive. With Covid-19 restrictions making it difficult for Amelia to see her friends and family, it meant her growing struggles went unseen by those outside the family home.
“She had everything planned before the birth however, once in hospital, there were a lot of difficulties,” Ed adds. “It became a very traumatic birth with some complications, and with it being Covid, the process was just awful. No one was allowed to see her, and when her little girl was born with some health problems which meant she wasn’t sleeping. All this paired with it being lockdown, it all took its toll.”
Amelia continued to struggle as well as facing isolation from family and friends. It came to light that Amelia had been suffering with post-natal depression to which she had sought professional help for, however Ed feels there was not enough focus on suicidal ideation in his sister’s counselling.
In March 2021, after months of restrictions preventing the family from meeting up, Ed and his dad discovered that Amelia had taken her own life.
“I would never have expected it,” Ed shares. “I had no idea she would ever do that. Pretty soon after, I started doing research and looking up different charities – me and my dad spoke very early on about wanting to do something that could help prevent others from either losing a loved one or taking their own life. We didn’t know what to do but we wanted to make a difference in some way.”
Within weeks of Amelia’s death, Ed was determined to open the conversation around suicide. He shared openly with colleagues the reason for his absence, he spoke publicly about his sister’s suicide and he was active in trying to understand what it was she had been facing in her own head.
Ed attended suicide training courses and began sharing his knowledge with others to spread awareness of this pandemic he had previously been unaware of. Over the last two years, he has spoken candidly about the signs of suicide and in April 2023, Ed took his awareness raising to the finish line of the London Marathon where he ran not only to raise vital funds for PAPYRUS, but to honour the memory of his little sister.
“I went to the marathon back in October and got over excited, entered the ballot and of course won. I’m not a runner, I never have been. I’ve since met a lot of runners in this time who have told me they have entered hundreds of times and never won, so I saw it as like a bit of fate to win it at that time.
“With the fundraising, I wanted to tell Amelia’s story, but I particularly wanted to highlight the stories of all the other people that no one had even thought for a second were struggling. You never know what is going on inside of someone and that is why campaigns such as Spot the Signs is great. I wanted to use this as a chance to encourage people to do the training and understand how to talk about suicide.
“It never occurred to me for a second that Amelia would take her life. But then with hindsight, had I done some of that training beforehand, maybe I would have done something different when my dad told me my sister had a bit of a tough day. Maybe I’d have spotted the signs. That’s what I want to get across. Do the training, it’s not always the people you expect. You don’t know what someone’s mental health is like.
“Around one in five people have suicidal thoughts, it’s common. People need to know that it is normal to have those thoughts and if you do feel that way, you can reach out and people won’t judge you.”
Through his work, Ed hopes to spare other families the same pain that he and his loved ones have had to endure. He understands that suicide is a difficult topic for many people to talk about, but he encourages everyone to take the time to learn about the signs of suicidal thoughts and to take steps to help those in need.
“I hope to have really good relationships with the girls through their whole life and I’m very conscious they will have very little memories of their mum, especially the little one. I hope I can help them get to know her as they grow up and as they’re adults, and learn about what she was like, but also support them with whatever they might need.
“It’s so important that we keep reinforcing the messages behind the campaigns, reinforcing the fact that HOPELINE247 is available to people, and being sure to ask people how they ‘really’ are.”