Survivor Story ( )

The moment my life changed forever

I lost my brother to suicide nearly 11 years ago. He was 34 and I worked with him in a fireplace business. When a job opportunity came along for me to work in America for 5 months, he told me to go and pursue my dreams. On coming home I found his business had gone bankrupt, he had lost his home, and his marriage had broken up. He had disappeared, and although a friend of his told me he had gone on holiday, five weeks had gone by and I was quite worried about him. I broke into his flat and found he hadn’t gone away at all. He had hung himself and he had been there for 5 weeks. There I was, with my brother hanging in front of me – and he was totally unrecognisable.  I was frozen to the spot.  It was a moment which changed my life forever. Police came and took me home. My wife Joy, to whom I am eternally grateful for sticking by me through my darkest days, took me to my Doctor and explained to him what I’d found. He recommended a long walk. If I’d started walking as he suggested, I might never have stopped (and yes, I changed my GP). Years of private counselling sessions which cost a fortune never satisfied my troubled mind. After 8 years I found SOBS completely by accident on the internet. I rang the helpline and I spoke to a woman called Jennie – another person to whom I’m eternally thankful. After speaking to Jennie, it felt like I’d been let out of prison – my own prison. I had found someone who truly understood my feelings and helped me feel normal again. I realised I wasn’t going mad after all. I was grieving for a brother who died tragically. I phoned Jennie on many occasions and travelled to her support group an hour and a half drive from my home. I am truly thankful to her and to SOBS and what they did for me. Looking back, I realise just how far I’ve come without truly knowing it. I know there are people like me out there who need help to cope with the awful feeling of isolation that suicide brings. I shout about SOBS to all who will listen.  John, another survivor, said, “It’s a long and winding road”. Never have truer words been spoken. Seeing the people who get involved with SOBS who are themselves on that road, and who want to give something back, gives me a good feeling.

“Have I ever got over my brother’s death?” The answer is no, I don’t think we ever do get over something like that, but we do move on – sometimes without even knowing it. I even feel we get life in a better perspective.

Ian