Two of Susan’s sons have taken their own lives by hanging. Barry died in 1995 and Stephen died in April 2006. Susan has had support from various sources. She is still grieving but feels she must ‘move on’ for the sake of her other children.
Susan’s sons both took their own lives. Barry was aged 23 when he hung himself in 1995, and Stephen was 35 when he hung himself in April 2006.
Barry had various problems which he found hard to talk about with other people. Susan saw Barry two weeks before he died. He had cut his wrists and said that he did not want to live and could not promise that he would not try to kill himself again.
Susan recalls that before Barry cut his wrists he had asked to be admitted to hospital and but the psychiatrist had refused to admit him because he was not a danger to anyone else. When he cut his wrists he was taken to hospital but soon sent home again. Susan was very upset that her son was not given more help. Two weeks later Barry was found hanging in a garage near to his flat by two little girls.
Barry’s death was a terrible shock for Susan and her husband. However, she had half expected this to happen and although she felt terribly sad about Barry’s death she also felt a sense of relief that she no longer had to worry about him. When Susan, her husband and Stephen went to see Barry in the Chapel of Rest at the hospital he looked very peaceful, which was a comfort to Susan.
Many people attended Barry’s funeral, which took place in church. Susan and her family received wreaths from some of those who had worked with Barry in the catering business and from people who knew Barry through football. Barry was buried and had a really nice head stone with a picture of a lion.
Stephen had to give a statement at Barry’s inquest because he was the last person to see him alive. The coroner said that Barry’s death was due to suicide.
After Barry died a counsellor from the hospital visited Susan every fortnight for a year. Susan found this counselling most helpful. It was free.
Stephen never came to terms with Barry’s death. Susan suspects that Stephen felt a sense of guilt after Barry died, partly because they had planned to die together.
The year after Barry died Stephen was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, and was in and out of hospital for ten years. He usually had to go into hospital under a section order with a police escort.
Stephen often heard voices including Barry’s voice. After Stephen’s death a psychiatrist had told Susan that when Stephen could no longer hear his brother’s voice he had become suicidal. Susan felt angry that she had not been told about this. She was also angry that Stephen had access to illegal drugs when he was at the hospital. Both Barry and Stephen had taken drugs, such as cannabis, but at the time of their deaths no drugs were found in their bodies.
In April 2006 Susan’s husband found Stephen dead in his own flat. He had also taken his life by hanging. Susan was devastated. She couldn’t believe that Stephen had taken his own life. She felt upset and angry. She also felt guilty because of a row she had had with Stephen the previous Christmas, mainly about illegal drugs.
Susan and her husband went to see Stephen’s body at the Chapel of Rest at the undertakers. Susan found this heartbreaking, seeing a second son lying dead.
Stephen had a wonderful funeral, during which his sister read a lovely poem. The vicar read out a talk about Stephen composed by his father.
Perhaps the most difficult thing for Susan was telling her 15 year old daughter what had happened. Susan had to go to the school to find her daughter and tell her the terrible news. Since then, Seesaw has helped her daughter with counselling. The counsellor suggested that she should create memory boxes for both her brothers, which she did.
After Stephen died Susan had a kind of breakdown, and was off work for over three months. She says she thinks she was grieving for both her sons, and she felt like taking her own life. Her GP talked to her and gave her anti-depressants. Susan had support from family and colleagues. She also had some help from a Cruse counsellor, who she saw regularly for a year. Susan’s husband also had some counselling.
Stephen’s inquest was six months after his death. Susan’s husband had to give evidence about what had happened, which he found very distressing and traumatic. The coroner gave a verdict of death by suicide.
Susan is gradually coming to terms with what has happened and feels that she must move on for the sake of her other children. She has had a tattoo in order to remember her sons and has also put a memorial bench in the church yard.
Susan was interviewed in August 2007.