Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK. With Mental Health Awareness Week having finished on Sunday, Lotte Stringer, of suicide prevention charity Hector’s House, describes the devastating aftermath of suicide and why it’s so important to talk openly and remove the stigma surrounding mental health.
My name is Lotte and my younger brother Hector took his life five years ago, at the age of 18. Today one of his friends posted a video on Facebook of Hector sitting on a bed singing and playing his guitar. The video captures Hec in all of his natural beauty and it brought him back to life. This was wonderful but as the day has gone on the fallout and feelings that go with that have risen once again to the surface.
If Hector could hear me, I'd tell him I want him back. There is nothing he could do or could've done that is worse than being without him. Today the feelings of loss are raw and it's like going back in time to the day it happened. I feel crippled and devastated because I can't fix it or bring him back.
Losing my little brother has had many repercussions. I dread my wedding day because Hec won't be there with me. My children are going to miss having him as an uncle. My parents have lost a child which is devastating. People usually relate better to the parent-child relationship and can empathise. Losing a sibling is just as devastating – Hec was also one of my best friends.
When Hector first hung himself I got through the first few weeks just by going into auto pilot. After that I threw myself into work. I helped to set up a charity in his name, Hector’s House in order to remember him and to try and make a difference to others. I wanted to try and make sure no other sibling would ever have to feel as I do. These things enabled me to detach myself from how I felt, to try to get on with my life. But hey, this does not really work.
I began to realise that I was constantly anxious. These feelings got progressively worse until 3 years after Hector's death, I knew I needed professional help. I was fortunate in that I could afford a private counsellor and didn't have to wait weeks on a list (as we are all aware, the NHS is grossly underfunded in mental health provision). I then followed an intensive therapy program for three months, which included rewind therapy, as I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Since unlocking my feelings the repercussions of living with suicide are more real and prevalent than before.
Today I am speaking out because seeing the video of Hec and capturing his mannerisms as well as hearing his voice again, has made me miss him all over again. I wish he knew the pain we would feel not having him here – I'm convinced that he probably wouldn't have made the decision he did on that night.
I can't bring my brother back but I do have a message for anyone who feels that taking their own life will make things better for everybody. I miss you every day Hector, I hurt more than I can possibly describe, I have cried my own body weight in tears, only to come to the stark horrific truth that I can never bring you back. You are here with me every day, sometimes you give me strength and sometimes the loss of you debilitates me.
I will live my life always feeling that someone is missing - but I will live and be happy. Living with suicide has its good and bad days, today is the latter.
If you are low or in a crisis there is help available. Samaritan’s are contactable 24 hours a day 365 days a year on 116 123 – you don’t have to be suicidal to call.