Every week in Cumbria, another person takes their own life, it’s a shocking figure and very difficult time for their families. Please see below transcript of ITV Border News interview with Paula Mart and John Brown from 10 Feb 2016
Male Reporter - The charity, Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide or SOBS has set up a website as a route to offer help, support and someone to talk to. Fiona Marley Patterson has been talking with Paula Mart from Penrith, who lost her daughter 3 years ago.
Fiona MP -Paula’s daughter Jaymie led an adventurous life, she left Penrith to pursue a career in sports science in Peebles, and won silver in the world mountain bike championships. But when she was 31 she lost her battle with mental illness. She’d seen the GP and the hospital mental health team, including a trainee, the day before she died.
Paula Mart -I don’t feel in some ways as if I have suffered the grief that some people talk about, probably because it hasn’t registered with me, because Jaymie was such that she filled a room and you knew when she was about. Even when she was gone, you still felt that energy and it almost feels as if she’s still around somewhere and I don’t know whether it’s my mind sort of protecting me as it were in order to help me cope on a daily basis.
Fiona MP -Did you there was any difference in either how you dealt with it or how other people dealt with it because of how Jaymie died.
Paula Mart -I think you’ve got to gauge those people who you know that will talk about it and obviously those who perhaps don’t want to speak about it then it’s not something that you would force on other people. But I think it’s getting an awful lot better now, that people are talking more about it.
Fiona MP -And how has SOBS helped?
Paula Mart -You need to get it out, it needs to be sorted in your head, because luckily for us we knew why Jaymie got to this situation that she got herself into, why she died. But some people have not got an idea, and they are left with ‘perhaps I should have done this’ or ‘perhaps I should have done that’.
Fiona MP -The new Cumbria SOBS websites supports people like Paula, but she wants more. In the month before Jaymie died, Paula tried to get the numbers for her crisis team but was told they were confidential. She’s now campaigning for more support for families of people with a mental health condition. Fiona Marley Patterson, ITV Border news, Penrith.
Male Reporter -That’s Paula Mart’s story, John Brown joins us now, he’s from the charity, Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide (SOBS). John, you’re launching this new website. Tell us what you plan to achieve through this and what you’re going to offer.
John Brown -Yes. I mean suicide is a very difficult subject for anybody. Difficult to think about and difficult to get hold of. But I think that the crucial thing is that when somebody loses someone suicide, it’s the last thing they expect very often. So people are in complete shock, their lives are turned upside down and the important thing is that people are aware that there is a self-help organisation out there. Made up of people whom have all been bereaved who can offer help and support. The website, Facebook, twitter, we are using Social Media as a way to reach out to people and let them know that help and support can be available.
Male Reporter -So it’s an online development to the group. You yourself were bereaved, to the death of your father and then SOBS in Cumbria was started in 2009. It’s effectiveness, are you in no doubt as to how useful it’s been since then?
John Brown -Well what we did is called a public meeting to see whether there was a need and 20 people turned up and it was an incredibly powerful meeting where most of the people there had been bereaved. Some hadn’t, some were councilors and other people. It was very clear from that what people wanted was a group simply made up of other people who had been bereaved.
Male Reporter -And the fact that there was such a demand at a public meeting kind of goes against the misconception that we think of it as a taboo subject that’s kept behind closed doors and people don’t want to talk about. Perhaps people do want to talk or don’t know who to talk to or where to go.
John Brown -You know at the end of the day, losing someone to suicide is totally traumatising for friends, colleagues, neighbours. People are suddenly confronted with how to respond to that and quite often people will back away because they are scared to say the wrong thing, they’re scared to cause further upset or distress.
Male Reporter -Your website we know, offer some assistance in that regard, as does your group. But there are resources from public health as well. This booklet from Help is at Hand, which is something you recommend and people can draw upon. I want to talk briefly about, SOBS is for people who are bereaved due to suicide. Dealing with the prevention is a different issue all together though, isn’t it? An earlier step. What would you like to see implemented or how would you like to see that going forward as a society which is perhaps more prepared to discuss the subject now.
John Brown - Number one I think is being prepared to talk, I think a lot of work has been done in Cumbria strategically. Top down, police, Samaritans, NHS, ourselves. What we need I think is community engagement, community ownership. And in the Eden District where I live with a colleague Juliet from Mind. We called a public meeting and said ‘look If you have an interest in suicide prevention, come along’. 50 people turned up just on the back of an article in the local paper. And from that we’re trying to get local people to think about how they can approach this, not be scared of it. You get the chamber of trade engaged, we’ve got the FA engaged, you know with young men, through sport and so on. Many different ways
Male reporter – John you’ve given us a real insight. SOBS are the people to contact, we’ll put the details on our website.
John Brown -Thank you very much.