He said, "Remember I'll always love you" and he drove away
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A life is lost through suicide every two hours in the UK, but suicidal thoughts and feelings affect thousands of us every single day.
And in the last 12 months in North Yorkshire and York alone, we’ve recorded 26,085 incidents where mental health has been a factor - that’s an average of 2,173 incidents per month and 71 incidents per day.
These figures show why talking about mental health is more important now than ever before.
This is an in-depth read that talks about suicide, so please only read if you feel able to, but here, one of our Sergeants has bravely opened up about losing her beloved dad to suicide almost 30 years ago.
“On 13th February 1995, I refused to go to school. I said I had a bad stomach as I knew something wasn't quite right. I've always had a good sixth sense or been a bit psychic some might say.
“My mam went to work, and my dad stayed at home. They ran a business together, so I've no idea if this was normal or not. He was being quite distant, and he spent a long time writing something in his bedroom.
“I didn't know what it was, but when I looked in, I saw him scrunch some pages up, obviously having made a mistake.
“A short time later he said he was going out. I asked if I could go with him and when he said no, I was quite insistent, as I knew something wasn't right.
“When he left, he said, ‘Remember I'll always love you’ and he drove away. I was 12-years-old, and I knew that would be the last time I saw him. In fact, that was the last time anyone from our family saw him.
“I sat by the phone for a while wondering how to articulate to my mam that she needed to ring the police and that he wasn't coming back.
“When I figured it out, I rang her. I don't remember what she said but I know the police were called. I think I said something like 'dad's gone'.
“I knew he would be gone, I felt sick all day and when my best friend finished school, I went out with her for a little bit, probably trying to make things feel normal.
“I don't even think I had to be told that my dad was dead. My uncle, a serving police officer at the time broke the news to my mam and the house became full of family.
“The writing I had seen him doing was his note, with a page dedicated to me. He'd left it with a couple he had seen nearby before he died. I often think of the impact the day had on them.
“The next few weeks were a blur. We had people constantly in the house and we had to keep the curtains closed all day as we had journalist's knocking on the door - remember it was 1995 and this wasn't common.
“I remember hearing a helicopter over the house and wondering if it was the media. I'm sure it wasn't, but with his death making the front page of the newspaper, with pictures, anything seemed possible.
“My dad wasn't a celebrity or anything, he was a normal working man, but suicide wasn't spoken about and there was much more stigma back then.
“I remember going back to school. It was awful. People didn't know what to say to me, particularly other children, and I remember being grateful for one of the class jokers just being 'normal'.
“Normal, something which I knew I'd never see or feel again.
“I don't remember this, but my mam said we'd go to a local pub for tea sometimes and people would stare and point at our family.
“I don't honestly think I had dealt the way he died, until I moved into my most recent role within the police two years ago.
“I have been a police officer for almost 16 years but the most poignant moment for me was shortly after starting my new role, I was sat at my desk in my office, and I received an email from someone at the North Yorkshire Suicide Postvention service. She told me about her own loss, and I remember sitting thinking ‘this is it’.
“I thought I either need to be honest and embrace it or pretend it didn't happen and just smile. I embraced it and I'm so grateful to this person as, although she won't realise how much, she started me on my journey and has supported me the whole way.
“The stigma behind losing someone to suicide is horrendous. Especially in 1995. I have lied numerous times about why my dad isn't here, but now I am able to just tell the truth - sometimes people aren't expecting it because I'm strong, and a police officer, and they get emotional.
“I am grateful for where my job has taken me as I wouldn't be able to write this down and help other people, without it. I've met so many wonderful people who have made me feel that I'm not alone.
“And the person who helped me to eventually share my story about my dad described it as a club, and she was right. It’s a sad club to be in but there’s lots of support.
“It has somehow also helped my mam and uncle to be more open about my dad and suicide. I've had conversations with them both that I wouldn't have had before.
“I wanted to tell you my story as I think it's only fair, as I ask countless people to tell me their story.
“My message is, never underestimate the impact we all have on each other's lives. The slightest little bit of encouragement can mean the world to someone and keep talking about suicide - prevention and postvention.
“I hope to be starting my voluntary work soon for SOBS, helping people and offering support, which wasn't there for my family 27 years ago.”
Our thanks to our colleague and her family for letting us share their story.
If you, or someone you care about, is experiencing some kind of mental or emotional distress, we can recommend a brilliant resource called Hub of Hope which is provided by national mental health charity, Chasing The Stigma.
The Hub of Hope is the UK’s leading mental health support database bringing local, national, peer, community, charity, private and NHS mental health support and services together in one place for the first time.
All you need to do is type in an address, city or postcode and it’ll bring up a list of all the help that available is near to you.
The services and support listed on there are not only for when things become unbearable – a crisis point.
They are also for those times when we notice we are starting to struggle, or when we need extra support as we start to emerge from a particularly difficult time.