Suicide survivor shares message of hope

Date Released - 06/09/2022

SEAN Thornton is a loving dad of five daughters, taking up new hobbies and thriving in a new career.


But the future hasn’t always felt so full of promise for the 35 year old, who’s life turned upside down ten years ago when by the loss of his father to suicide.


It was Sean who found his dad, Brian, after the 57-year-old had hanged himself at home.


The shock, despair and bereavement sent Sean - who at the time was a newlywed and looking forward to the birth of his first child - spiralling into depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. In the wake of his dad’s death Sean made two attempts on his own life.


Sean, now a volunteer peer-support worker at Tameside, Oldham and Glossop MIND in Ashton, is sharing his story and his message of hope to support Tameside Council’s campaign to raise awareness of World Suicide Prevention Day on 10 September 2022.


He is also supporting the Council in encouraging people to complete the Zero Suicide Alliance free 20 minutes Suicide Awareness Training – so that they may be able to help someone who is suicidal.


Sean said: “When my dad took his own life, it was very unexpected. With hindsight there were some signs – I remember him giving me a hug and telling me to look after my wife and unborn baby and the last time I saw him he gave me his watch – I thought it was unusual but I didn’t really know much about depression as an illness and I didn’t have the knowledge or confidence to open a conversation with him about his mental health.


“I want people to have the confidence to talk about suicide, to not be frightened to ask for help or ask others if they need help.”


Sean shared how he was affected by his father’s suicide: “I was so close to my dad – he was a brilliant dad and he was always there for me, no matter what. I still very much needed him. I was angry with him for taking his own life and wondered how could he leave me… my child was due to be born, I wanted him to meet her. I was not ready to lose him, I never would be.


“I didn’t get any help and I eventually had a breakdown, which led to me making two attempts on my own life. I felt like there was no hope of ever being happy again.”


It was years later and only after deciding to fully embrace the available mental health support and be totally honest with himself and others about how he was feeling that Sean began to feel better.


Sean’s life has turned around so much that he uses his experience as a volunteer working with others facing mental health challenges and he is about to start a new job in a mental health service access and crisis team, helping people to get the support they need.


At home, he is enjoying life with his wife and five daughters, is learning new languages and has become a keen guitar player.


He said: “I realised I had to be a little bit selfish and proactively do things to look after my own mental health – I can’t look after others if I don’t look after myself. Life can still sometimes be a struggle, you are always going to have your good and bad days, but I feel so much more positive about myself and my future and that it is still worth trying to be happy, even if happiness doesn’t always last.


“I wish my dad had had chance to get better but I’m now at peace with what happened. He has given me so much, shaped my life and loved me for me. I love him, I always will.


“In the past people didn’t talk about suicide. It was stigmatised and covered up. We all need to be open about it and maybe we can make a difference to someone who needs help.”


To take a 20 minute training session on talking to people about suicide see


For more information on mental health support in Tameside see