[Trigger warning: this blog post talks about suicide]
Trevor describes the heartbreak of losing his daughter to suicide and the importance of research.
Whilst away with the British Army I had the devastating news that no parent ever wants to hear: my 19-year-old daughter, Chloe, had died. It is impossible to put into words the devastation I felt in that moment.
As the days and months passed by, the numbness and pain just seemed to double, life felt empty and at times, not worth living.
The inquest came 10 months later and I was told Chloe had taken her own life. In the words of the Chief Coroner: “Chloe had killed herself”. The shock was totally shattering, hundreds of questions bounced around in my head. Why? How?
From the age of 13, Chloe struggled with mental health issues and started to self-harm. I know that she often felt isolated, she was bullied at school and fell behind in her studies.
I remember being concerned about her, but she would keep many of her problems on the inside, so I wasn’t aware of the full extent of her struggles. She also had a period of care under CAMHS (Child Adolescent Mental Health Services), which I felt was unsuccessful in aiding Chloe to recovery.
She struggled with eating and was only 6 stone when she died, but we know that this wasn’t the cause of her death. Chloe was a very private young girl and since her death I’m learning more about how she suffered in silence.
I sought professional help to guide me through the journey of grief and cope with everyday life. I turned to some fantastic psychologists and psychiatrists within the military who endeavoured to support me to make sense of my pain. And I have been supported by my friends, family and my church.
I’m still suffering from anxiety, I can experience whole days of deep sadness and I often have broken, restless sleep.
The MQ HOPES project aims to predict which young people are most at risk of suicide by looking at data from over 10,000 young people. The researchers are determined to find answers which could provide professionals with the insight they need to spot children who are contemplating suicide so we can intervene early. If these kinds of initiatives were available when Chloe was alive – and the work to educate services better was in place – then this could have been life-saving for her.
Right now, many people who work with young children and vulnerable adults don't have the tools or knowledge to be able to understand which people are most at risk of dying by suicide. It’s incredibly important for services to share information on patients and to share ideas. If the HOPES project can learn from life experiences of people whose lives have been touched by suicide, this can only be a positive step towards prevention becoming reality. Early intervention is vital for someone who is experiencing suicidal thoughts.
If young people get the help they need early enough, it can save lives so parents like myself don't have to suffer the traumatic pain of losing a child to suicide.
It’s hugely important that we keep fighting for a safer mental health community. I’m passionate about preventing suicide so others don’t suffer like Chloe did. With the work of MQ and the HOPES project, we are making the right moves forward.
Last updated: 11 October 2017
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