In 1999, Nina was shocked to hear that her brother, Joe, was in intensive care. He was aged 16. He had been found unconscious, hanging from a tree. He died three days later. Nina has found most support from friends, family, counsellors and SOBS.
Nina’s brother, Joe, died in October 1999, when he was aged 16. Joe was on holiday with his girl friend. They were very happy together and had had an excellent relationship, but one evening they had an argument and he left the caravan. He was found hanging from a tree. He was unconscious and taken to an intensive care unit in a local hospital. The care he received was very good, but he died three days later.
When Nina heard that her brother was in hospital she felt that she could not breathe and collapsed on the floor. Her father took her to the hospital to see Joe. Nina, her parents and Joe’s girl friend stayed with Joe during the next three days. Nina was glad that she had the three days to say goodbye to Joe while he was still alive. When he died she felt she was in a haze and was exhausted. She found it hard to tell people what had happened.
After Joe died Nina moved to another university so that she could move back home with her mother. She felt she had to be strong for her parents, particularly her mother, who had been living with Joe. Nina felt that roles had reversed. Nina is now studying for a PhD.
Joe had an amazing funeral about 10 days after he died. The church was so full that people had to stand outside. Afterwards Joe’s body was cremated.
The inquest was about six months later. At first the family could not accept the verdict of suicide and the inquest had to be adjourned. When the inquest resumed some time later the coroner still returned a verdict of suicide. Nina has now accepted that Joe did kill himself. She thinks it is important that people recognise that that people do not have to be down, depressed or mentally unwell to take their own lives.
The family were not offered any support while at the hospital or immediately afterwards. Nina had to ask her GP for counselling. She was referred to the Community Mental Health team and had one session with one of their counsellors. Nina also went to a Cruse meeting with her mother but wanted to meet others who had been bereaved due to suicide. She felt that the guilt that comes with a suicide was not really addressed at the Cruse meeting.
A bit later Nina went to a meeting organised by Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide [SOBS], which she found good. She still goes to meetings occasionally, especially when she feels down for any reason. She finds it helpful to meet others who understand how she feels. Nina has also attended conferences run by SOBS, which she has found helpful but exhausting. Nina still sees a university counsellor from time to time, when ever she feels a need to talk to someone. This service is free and is helpful. Nina has also found some help from the internet by joining a support group called A thousand deaths.
Nina says that she will never stop missing Joe. She will never be the same person, and gets angry with other people when they get upset over trivial things. However, she says that she is happier than she ever thought she could be; she never thought she would reach where she is now.
Nina feels sad at the thought of a future without Joe and she anticipates feeling a great sense of loss when she has children of her own. No one knew Nina as well as Joe. They went through many experiences together and Nina says that it is hard now because no one is there to remember these shared experiences. However, Nina says she had chosen to live through his life and to remember the happy times they had together rather than his death.
Nina was interviewed in August 2007.