Ellie Boswell had just landed her dream job.
After recently graduating from a Performing Arts degree and deciding she wanted to change career paths to become a mental health professional, Ellie had just received news that she had been successful for a place to train as mental health nurse in the British Army.
She had been working as a mental health support worker since graduating and spoke regularly to her family about her plans and ambitions to further her career. She was seemingly excited about her future and the prospect of helping people in the army.
“She had such a big heart,” Ellie’s sister Connah says.
“After she graduated, she decided that she didn’t want to go into performing arts and she wanted to go into mental health. She’d just found out that she had got a place to train with the British Army, who were going to pay for her to do a master’s and qualify as a mental health nurse. She was so happy about it.”
Ellie’s life was full of promise and potential, so when Connah received a call to say her sister had taken her own life, it came as a shock to everyone.
Ellie was laid to rest the day before her 22nd birthday in October 2021, leaving behind big sister Connah and their younger brother Frankie.
From a young age, Ellie and Connah’s bond was unbreakable. After having a “hard time growing up”, the two had stuck together through all of life’s challenges. They spoke every single day and were each other’s main support system. Ellie was the “cool auntie” to Connah’s little boy Zaine, the “cool sister” to Frankie, and the person Connah would turn to regularly for support, a smile and a “good laugh”.
“Ellie was so funny. She had the most witty character; she was dry but hilarious, and always singing,” Connah shares.
“ She had so many friends; she was so well-liked and so many people cared about her.
“Getting the call was such a huge shock. I’d been outside her flat that day, but something told me not to go in. We’d been on FaceTime the night before for hours and I knew she’d gone out with her friends so I thought she must be hungover when she didn’t answer my calls.
“I just don’t know how this could have happened without anyone noticing. Without realising there was something going on with her.”
Connah says her sister showed “zero” signs that she was struggling with any mental ill health or personal issues. To this day, the family do not know why Ellie made the decision to take her own life, however Connah has made it her mission to ensure fewer families have to experience the “pain and suffering” she has had to live with for the last 18 months.
Prior to losing Ellie, Connah admits she had little knowledge of the impact of suicide in the UK.
“Suicide was not something I’d ever had to deal with. I’d never been affected by it, no one in my family had so I’d just never really thought about it. But after losing Ellie, I started looking into it and I realised the statistics are crazy. I couldn’t believe how many people are actually doing this – and young people too.” Connah says.
Now in a position where she is wanting to help others through telling Ellie’s story, Connah recently decided to launch a fundraiser which she will be donating towards the life-saving work PAPYRUS does to support young people with suicidal thoughts.
As someone who is admittedly “impulsive” and enjoys a crazy challenge, Connah knew her fundraising event would have to push her out of her comfort zone, and having always had a fear of heights, Connah knew exactly what she could do.
“I’d been made aware of PAPYRUS after Ellie had taken her own life and I knew I wanted to do something to help, but I just hadn’t been ready to until the past six months. I’d recently seen someone I knew had done a skydive and I thought it looked amazing, so I googled charity sky dives and saw PAPYRUS does one and I knew that’s what I wanted to do – it was perfect for why I wanted to do it in the first place.
“Don’t get me wrong, I’m panicking now because I am petrified of heights, but I want to do this – not only for Ellie, but for the other families the money could help.”
Having already exceeded her £1,000 target, so far Connah has raised over £1,270 for PAPYRUS, and says this is just the first of many adrenaline-fuelled challenges she has in mind to honour her sister’s memory and highlight the significance of suicide prevention.
But alongside the plane jumps and fundraising efforts, Connah and her family have continued to keep Ellie’s memory alive in various ways they know she’d have loved.
“Ellie was a vegan who loved animals, the planet and especially the water,” Connah explains. “She loved swimming, and Cornwall was her favourite place, so last year as a family we went to visit and left some of her ashes in the water. That’s something I like to do wherever I go. No matter where it is, Ellie comes with me, and if I can find some water, I’ll always scatter some of her in it. She’d have liked that; she can be free that way.”
Connah has taken Ellie on all of her travels since she passed away, something she says she know her sister would have appreciated because of her “free-spirit” nature. Looking to continue her tradition, Connah is hoping she can bring her little sister along on her wildest adventure yet when she jumps out of the plane later this month.
Ellie’s passing left a deep impact on her sister, brother, and nephew. Connah has made it her mission to raise awareness of suicide prevention in her sister’s name and to ensure that other families do not have to suffer the same pain and loss.
“I don’t want as many families to feel the way I felt,” Connah shares. “The way I felt and what we had to deal with was horrific. I had to plan her funeral by myself, I had to make all the arrangements myself, I had to sort out everything by myself, and while I know that’s not the case for everyone, there will be people similar to me and in a similar situation to ours, and I don’t want them to have to do the same.”
If you’re experiencing thoughts of suicide and need a safe non-judgmental space to talk. PAPYRUS is here for you. Call HOPELINE247 for free, confidential advice and support on 0800 068 4141, text 07860 039 967 or email email@example.com from 9am to midnight every day of the year.