This blog post was written by PAPYRUS volunteer, Kate Crofton, to discuss her inspiration to becoming a volunteer with the charity. To find out more about becoming a volunteer at PAPYRUS, visit the link at the end of this blog.
On the 23rd March 2020, when we were told that the country was being “locked down”, I could never have imagined how my life would be affected by it. It is a story that I fear is common all around the world.
On paper I had a very blessed life, a very content and happy marriage to my husband Nigel for 25 years, two healthy and happy sons, Angus, 22 and Guy, 20, great family and friends and no financial worries.
Very quickly, my life started to change.
Two months from the day we were all confined to the four walls of our home, I got a call I will never forget. In the May, my twin brother Richard phoned to tell me he has lymphoma, though he reassured me it had been caught early and it could be treated. Over the next six months, I was only able to see Richard twice as a result of the restrictions and in November that year, he died at the age of 55.
At the time, I thought I was dealing well with the death of Richard, but I now realise I wasn’t at all. On top of my grief for Richard’s loss, our business – selling safaris – was badly impacted by the pandemic.
At the beginning of April 2021, after realising my grief and the various other stressors in my life at the time had taken its toll on my mental health, I reached out for support – just ahead of my birthday later that month. My family and friends were so supportive, but the problem I faced was my mental health seemed to be deteriorating rapidly, and the medication I had been prescribed by my GP not working as fast as I wanted and needed. Two years on, I now realise it is often a case of trial and error when it comes to finding the right treatment for your personal needs, however I didn’t know this at the time and I continued to spiral.
A couple of days after scattering Richard’s ashes, I made two serious attempts to take my own life. They were not premeditated; they were totally impulsive. It wasn’t that I wanted to die, I just could not go on with the torture in my head. Shortly after, the Crisis team became involved, and I was admitted to a mental health hospital in Redruth for my own safety.
The next six months were the hardest we have faced as a family, but my husband and two sons were so strong in supporting me. I know it was unbelievably hard for them, but I also know that my internal torture was incredibly hard. The issue was on the outside I looked nearly the same as I always did, but it was what was happening inside my head where the problem lied. I used to long to go to bed because at least there my head was quiet as I took medication that helped me sleep.
In that time I encountered another stay in a mental health hospital, however this time I was provided a treatment which finally worked for me and in January 2022, I felt like I had found myself again.
I felt so blessed to have survived my two suicide attempts in 2021, and a previous one attempt in 2008. For this reason, I knew that I needed to volunteer for a charity to help prevent suicide.
I discovered PAPYRUS, and after completing all the charity’s training courses, it was my turn to spread hope and awareness. In February 2023 I started to deliver its 30 minute SPARK session to staff at schools and colleges, and to date I have now hosted two sessions, have six booked in the calendar and also have 44 schools I hope to present the talk to in the future.
I am not in any way ashamed or embarrassed that I have tried to take my own life. I simply became very unwell – exactly as if I had broken my leg. I feel passionately that we all need to talk about suicide prevention more openly. We all know that 999 is for physical emergencies, and I believe we should all know the HOPELINE247 number for mental emergencies before we have put our lives at risk.
I will never know if any of my talks prevent young suicides, but what I do know is I am spreading the word about PAPYRUS and it’s brilliant resources on PAPYRUS-UK.ORG and the HOPELINE247 helpline 0800 0684141.