Paula’s husband had been depressed for a number of years. In 2005 he took his own life by hanging. This was a huge shock to Paula. She had weekly counselling for 6 months. Since then she has also found the WAY foundation very helpful and supportive.
Paula’s husband had been depressed for a number of years, perhaps partly due to difficulties had had experienced as a Turkish journalist. Paula thinks that just before his death he may have also been suffering from paranoid delusions.
In August 2004 a man fell from an upstairs window, from a floor above their upper floor, into their garden, and broke his back. This was a huge shock for everyone. Two hours later, while Paula’s husband was smoking a cigarette in the garden, their car spontaneously combusted, which was another unexpected shocking event.
Paula’s husband resigned his job and in January 2005 one of his ex-colleagues was so worried about his mental ill health that he traveled from abroad to see them. This colleague tried to persuade Paula’s husband to seek medical help. Up until now he had not seen a doctor. The next day Paula returned to the house and found her husband hanging in the stair well. Paula felt a sense of horror, devastation and lack of control.
Paula had two small children at the time, one aged five years and the other 10 months. The GP arranged emergency counselling for Paula and gave her the numbers of people who could advise her about what to tell the children. Paula told her eldest daughter that her husband had died and that he had taken his own life because he was ill. She tried to answer questions as honestly as possible.
Many men came to the house to mourn, in keeping with her husband’s culture. Paula’s husband was also washed as required in the Muslim faith, and then there was a humanist funeral. There was no fatal accident inquiry, which is the Scottish equivalent of an English inquest. The coroner was satisfied that Paula’s husband took his own life. The death certificate recorded death by hanging.
After the initial emergency counselling, Paula had weekly counselling paid for by the NHS for six months. She found this helpful. She also went to some meetings organised by Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide (SOBS), but did not find these helped. However, she found the WAY foundation, a self-help social and support network for men and women widowed up to the age of 50, and their children, hugely supportive. She liked using the chat room and has been on holiday with other members of WAY. When Paula’s daughter was seven years old she was able to have counselling especially designed for bereaved children.
Paula was interviewed in November 2007.