Please let me introduce myself, I am Claire, I work part time, I’m a Manchester mum of one and a wife.
I have to be honest and say that I didn’t know much about PAPYRUS until March 2020.
I was outside playing with my daughter and got a call to my mobile. It was a number that I didn’t recognise but I got the news that I was least expecting. I screamed out loud, did I hear that right? My best friend’s daughter, Beth, had taken her own life? She was just 17 years old.
I suppose I was in shock, made worse by the fact that it was the start of the pandemic and we were in lockdown. My instincts told me to get in the car and be with my friends, but I couldn’t do that, I couldn’t do anything. How do you react to something like this, something as a friend I had never experienced before? After the funeral – which took place online – and then the inquest; there was a void. What do you do when a friend loses a child in this way? How are you supposed to behave?
You can’t say, ‘How are you?’ can you?
As lockdown eased, I would drive to my friends and leave cakes and notes outside their door. I would send a text or card so they knew I was there for them. I could see they were really struggling with it all, I decided to see if I could help in other ways.
Who do you talk to when this happens? What support is out there for people who have been affected?
As I have had my own mental health challenges in the past, I’ve made a few connections in Manchester and knew of a campaign called Shine a light on suicide, so I called them to get help for the family.
I discovered that there isn’t a huge amount available for families bereaved by suicide – especially in the middle of pandemic – but that didn’t stop me. I found a few Facebook groups, which had been started by parents who had been bereaved in this way. My heart broke reading stories about other families and their loved ones.
I was in introduced to Joann from PAPYRUS, she was incredibly helpful to me and gave me lots of information to help the family.
At the same time, a crowdfunding page was set up for Beth and donations started to flood in. It was then that I realised that not many other people had heard of PAPYRUS – this needed to change, especially as the pandemic evolved and schools and colleges closed and remote learning started.
In January 2021, I decided to do a walking challenge called ‘Just one more step’, all proceeds would go into Beth’s fund and that would go towards training people especially those who worked closely with young people, in suicide prevention. It has currently funded places for eight people on PAPYRUS’s online suicide prevention course, SP-OT’ed. I will also be going on the course to gain a better understanding.
I am walking every day, remembering Beth and her family every time I lace up my trainers. I post my pictures on social media in the hope that a young person will see PAPYRUS’s HOPELINEUK number – the charity’s dedicated suicide prevention helpline – and call when they are in need.
No one should have to feel that total devastation that suicide brings, not just to the family but also to friends and teachers along with the wider community.
If you need help – reach out, talk to someone there is help available and you don’t need to feel like you are all alone.
When I am almost at 200 miles, I will just do just one more step for Beth’s memory.
(Shared with permission from Beth’s family to help others)