Debbie and Poppy’s story

You may think that they would be better off without you, but it’s never that way.

Debbie’s husband of 23 years, Kim, took his own life in August 2015.

The 50-year-old father-of-three and grandfather had a huge network of family, friends and colleagues. He was a keen sportsman, playing football for a number of clubs near his home at Eccles near Maidstone.

When the well-respected roofer died, his funeral was attended by over 500 people who were shocked that he had taken his own life. Debbie has shared her story with us to prevent other families suffering in the way she and her children have.

“It was such a bolt out of the blue and caused such devastation for all of us. He’d battled his own demons for many years after his mum died when he was just 14 but to everyone outside the family, he was happy go lucky and always wore a smile on his face.

“He wouldn’t talk about his issues and he wouldn’t take advice about getting help. He was from a generation – and a profession – which was about being a tough man. Inside he was quite weak but he was very much a normal man, a loving father and husband who worked hard and had lots of friends. What happened to us proves that it can happen to anyone and unless suicide is something your family has experienced, you really don’t appreciate the devastation for those who are left behind – suicide will always be a part of our lives."

Debbie told us what life has been like after her husband took his own life.

“It’s been horrible; a nightmare. I’ve felt so deeply sad, lonely, angry. But mainly I miss him so much. I wake up each day and for an instant I forget what has happened, but then it hits me in the face again. I hate having to go through that every morning. At first I was so embarrassed and ashamed even to use the word suicide. But that’s crazy, we need to talk more about suicide – it shouldn’t be a dirty word. Perhaps if we talked about it more, then people would realise how many lives it takes every year and perhaps more people would do something about it.”

Debbie is supporting Release the Pressure in a bid to encourage other men to seek help and to prompt their families and friends to look for signs and encourage them to access the wide range of services available.

“I wouldn’t have taken any notice of this campaign until it happened to us – I didn’t think that suicide would ever be something my family would need to worry about. But if it can happen to us, it can happen to anyone. So we need to get the word out and do what we can to save any other family going through this.

“The silence around the issue of suicide is horrible.  It’s something that some people brush over and try to ignore, but we need people to understand that it’s real and killing so many men every year.

"Talking can help and we must get the word out. It may not prevent every suicide – but it will prevent some, and that’s why we’ve got to do more to dispel the stigma. We’ve got to be more open talking about suicide and things like depression.”

Debbie and Kim’s daughter Poppy told us what she would say to men who may be thinking about taking their own lives.

“I would ask them to please think about the devastation that you will be leaving behind. Think about the people that love you, you may not believe it but you are loved by so many people and their pain will be immense with you gone,”

"We’re not trying to make anyone feel guilty and they certainly shouldn’t feel ashamed about having dark thoughts but socially something needs to change so that people – especially men – can talk about their issues and share what they’re feeling. You may think that they would be better off without you, but it’s never that way. It doesn’t matter what has happened in the past, your friends and family will always want you to be there in the future. You are loved, and there is always another way out.”

Poppy told us that sometimes friends and family can help too.

“If you know someone is having trouble, do everything that you can to get them to talk to someone. They may not think they need help, maybe they think that no one can help them. But do what you can to get them to talk to someone.

“Show them this campaign and if you can, get them to call 0800 107 0160. This campaign may not prevent every suicide, but if it can just help one person to start talking and seek help instead of taking their life, it will be worth it.”

We would like to thank Debbie and Poppy for coming forward and sharing their story with such openness and honesty.

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