Arthur’s son, Leon, had mental health problems. In 1991, Leon took his own life, in a fume filled car. This was a devastating shock to Arthur. Arthur helped to start the organisation, Papyrus, to try to prevent other young suicides.
In 1991 Arthur became aware that his son, Leon, had mental health problems. When Arthur spoke to Leon it felt as though he was speaking to a brick wall. Arthur took Leon to see his GP, who said that the waiting time to see a clinical psychologist was eleven months. Arthur was so worried about his son’s mental health that he took him to London to see a psychiatrist, paying for this privately. The specialist recommended immediate hospital treatment.
After returning home Leon agreed to go into hospital, but after four days he discharged himself because he disliked being with long term psychiatric patients. Leon went with his mother to visit his cousins in Canada and then came back to England.
On 15th November 1991 Arthur found Leon in a fume filled car in his garage. Leon was unconscious. Leon was taken to hospital but could not be revived. He died aged only twenty five.
Leon’s death was a shock to all the family. Arthur felt a tremendous weight in the middle of his chest. This feeling stayed with Arthur for about three months. Time seemed to stand still, and Arthur felt in despair.
Many people came to Leon’s funeral. He was cremated and his ashes were scattered round a young tree which was planted on National Trust property.
The inquest took place soon after Leon’s death. The coroner concluded that Leon had died by suicide, partly because he had left suicide notes.
On one occasion Arthur saw a bereavement counsellor. This was arranged by the hospital. He was so distraught that he needed a week in a psychiatric hospital. Arthur says that he was so wrapped up in his grief that he neglected his other child. A good friend helped him through this terrible time. It took months before he felt he could concentrate on work again.
Eventually Arthur had to return to work and he was so busy that this gradually took some of the hurt and pain away. He felt glad that at least he had been able to take his son to see the psychiatrist in London. Arthur wrote to the psychiatrist, who said that he thought Leon may have had bipolar disorder. Arthur says that time is a great healer, but he still misses Leon very much indeed.
Arthur helped to found the organisation called Papyrus, a voluntary UK organisation committed to the prevention of young suicide and the promotion of mental health and emotional wellbeing. Arthur hopes that there will be more help available for young people with mental health problems and that there will be more drop in centres where young people can get help and counselling.
Arthur was interviewedin November 2007.