Image: Flickr - Neil

TW: “For Allan”: Losing a sibling to suicide.

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TW: suicide, mental illness.

A few weeks ago, I lost my brother. His name was Allan. He was 25.

Suicide is the number 1 killer of men under the age of 45. Allan was one of those men. I want you to know the brother, the father, the friend we all knew and loved. This is his story.

He was strong, stubborn, cheeky. Fiercely loyal, he wouldn’t rest if someone needed help and there was something he could do, no matter how small. You could always find him at the next festival singing louder than the rest or looking for something that would leave everyone in stitches.

His name was Allan. He was 25.

You couldn’t help but laugh when he was around, that was his gift. Allan was larger than life. He got that from our Mum, who we lost 5 years ago to heart disease, he looked up to her like no one else. She taught us to fight tooth and nail for the ones you love.

To lose her at such a young age was terrible for us all, but Allan lost not only a parent, but a best friend and he never recovered. He developed anxiety and post bereavement, which turned to depression.

You couldn’t help but laugh when he was around, that was his gift

There were days when he was on top of the world and not a bad thought could bring him down. Others, he couldn’t bring himself to face the day. None of us really knew just how much pain he was in or how low his depression had taken him.

Allan touched so many lives, was loved by many, with the strongest group of friends and family anyone could ask for. The greatest tragedy of all is that he never knew that, his depression wouldn’t let him.

The greatest tragedy of all is that he never knew that, his depression wouldn’t let him

It stopped him from seeing how important he was and from talking to those around him. He struggled to word his feelings and depression, believing he shouldn’t, that it wasn’t ok to show that side of him.

This is one of the huge problems we are faced with as a country. Mental health support is on the rise, but so many people battle it alone due to extensive waiting times for therapy and the stigma attached to it.

This is one of the huge problems we are faced with as a country

Allan was seeking help, like so many others do, but his case was dismissed as non-urgent; they prescribed him anxiety tablets and he was placed on a waiting list 7 months long. Others can wait up to a year.

The government claims that those in need of mental health support will receive help in as little 6 weeks, with a maximum 18 week wait, but in its current state, those in need are left to fend for themselves. Everyday.

He was placed on a waiting list 7 months long

No one should have to wait 7 months for help. It has never been more important for us all to communicate with each other, to reach out to someone before it’s too late.

If you are reading this and it is something you are going through and help feels out of reach, know this; you ARE loved, you are NOT alone, you CAN ask for help. If I could grab your hand now, I would and not let go.

It has never been more important for us all to communicate with each other

Just so you know that you have not been abandoned. I know it’s terrifying and painful but please, please, speak up, if not to a professional, to someone close to you, a teacher, a helpline. People can and will understand more than you know.

If you know someone going through this, no matter how strong they may seem, please reach out. To the friend who seems a bit down, the family member you’ve argued with, the colleague who turns up late. Talk to them. Don’t leave it for someone else, don’t presume they’re fine.

Please, please, speak up, if not to a professional, to someone close to you

Be understanding of the darkness that surrounds them, even if you can’t see it, the loneliness that consumes them, even if you can’t feel it. It is one of the bravest, kindest and most important things you will ever do. We regret the things we don’t do. Don’t let this be one of those things.

Above all else, have courage and be kind. For those who have lost. For those still suffering. For Allan.

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