Joe was a son, a brother, a nephew, a grandson, a boyfriend and a friend.
He was kind, generous, intelligent and beautiful. An old soul with a dry wit and an opinion on everything.
For those of us who loved Joe, his loss is all consuming, as it is for anyone who loses a loved one to suicide. We know he suffered with his mental health and felt overwhelmed by his inner pain, and our inability to be there every single moment, our inability to take those last few moments of pain away is what hurts the most.
I am Joe’s mum and have been a health professional for the best part of 18 years. I've dealt with depression and mental illness both on a professional and personal basis. It's the silent cancer that eats away at those we love, taking their feelings, their hopes and their dreams away from them. My Joe didn't fit the normal stereotype of what we and all the professional community would expect to see in someone at risk of suicide, he came from a loving close family and I can genuinely say was never a sad child. He had an amazingly supportive and tightknit group of friends, he was bright, funny and compassionate to those around him. Don't get me wrong, Joe was by no means a saint. He could be rude, opinionated and self absorbed, but it's easy to forget he was an 18 year old teenager.
Joe's decline in his mental health was a slow and at times unobvious progression. Myself and his family fought to get him the help he needed, initially via NHS services which, due to his presentation and also reluctance to engage, didn't work. We were lucky enough, and I know this from experience, to be able to access a private clinical psychologist for Joe for the last 6 weeks with us and I know he had tried hard, so hard to make his sessions work for him. Sleeping and eating became a massive issue towards the end and again we attempted to address these issues with support from our GP, and Joe was finally listened to. The week leading to Joe's death he had been sleeping more normally, eating and seemed more like his old self.
I share this detail with you all as more than anything we want to raise awareness around people's perception of how they think people suffering from depression should present, and find a way to help those that aren’t able to fight this alone.
In Joe’s name we want to find ways to help those families and individuals out there that are struggling with mental health issues and need that helping hand required to start on the path to recovery. If you wish to join us in this crusade, in Joe’s name, please feel free to donate.