Six months ago, I received a phone call that changed my life forever. One of my best mates, Ted, had committed suicide the day before, at the age of 22.
On the surface, Ted had everything going for him. Not only was he smart, funny and kind, but he had a great family, a huge group of friends and an incredible likeability that I was always slightly in awe of. Having graduated Bristol, he was pursuing medicine at Swansea with the intention of becoming a doctor.
Never, not for a moment, would I have believed he would take his own life. But, on a mild Saturday in February, that’s exactly what he did.
When you lose someone you love to suicide, as opposed to, say, old age or some sort of illness, something strange happens to your brain. The first reaction, at least for me, was one of total denial. It just didn’t make sense. Ted had been joking around on our WhatsApp group less than twelve hours beforehand, and besides, people like him just didn’t do stuff like that, right?
In the weeks that followed, it was if I still couldn’t comprehend the enormity of what had happened. My routine continued as normal - like a car will keep rolling for a while even after the engine has cut out - but the grief, once it set in, was unlike anything I have ever experienced. It seemed as if all the colour had been taken from the world, and at times it was difficult to see the point of even getting out of bed. Ultimately, it all came to a head when, at Kings Cross Station (an area I know pretty well) I found myself unable to remember either how I had got there, or how to get home. It was as if my brain simply couldn’t process what had happened, so as a defence mechanism, it stopped processing at all. As painful as my own experience was, I can only imagine how much worse it must be for his parents and siblings.
Until Ted, the suicide statistics in this country had no meaning for me. I would shake my head or mutter how awful it was, and then carry on with my life. I couldn’t imagine the families and friends behind the statistic - those who had their lives shattered by a single one of those numbers.
But the more Ive read on the topic, the more I’ve learned. A 2015 survey found that 40% of British men won’t talk to ANYONE about their mental health. Part of it is obviously stigma, but there’s also a feeling that they don’t want to ‘waste their doctors time’.
In October this year, a group of Ted’s friends and family are cycling from London to Amsterdam to raise money for a foundation set up in his name.
Please please consider chucking a couple of quid my way on behalf of the Ted Senior Foundation, not for me - but for Ted, and the hundreds and hundreds of young men that take their own lives in the UK every single year.
The pain of losing someone you love to suicide is a constant reminder of the need to keep moving forward, stay positive and listen - so maybe another family won’t have to go through the same agony.
Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. Can’t Lose. Missing you @Ted Senior.
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