Will’s story shines a light on suicide

Date Released - 08/09/2023

In the heart of Tameside, a story of resilience and transformation emerges as a beacon of hope on World Suicide Prevention Day – a campaign proudly supported by Tameside Council. This is the story of Will, a local resident who has lived with poor mental health but was able to undertake a remarkable journey of personal growth and community commitment.

At just 12-years-old, Will experienced a devastating loss when his father and uncle took their own lives within a week. He felt his world was shattered and he began to struggle with depression and drug addiction, feeling like there was no way out.

"I wanted to take my own life. I wanted to be with my dad really. I had enough of dealing with my depression and my drug addiction. I'd had enough of dealing with the grief," Will bravely shared.

Desperate to find a new path, Will joined the Army, serving in Afghanistan, but his mental health worsened after leaving the military. He found himself back in the throes of addiction and served two prison sentences for drug-related charges. It was during his second incarceration that his daughter was born, and he yearned to meet her but didn't want her subjected to prison visits.

The turning point came when he finally met his two-year-old daughter during a family visit to an open prison. Witnessing her confusion and disconnection, he resolved to change his life. Will said: "For so long, I was lost because I wanted to be with my dad, but as soon as I met my daughter, I knew I wasn't willing to put her through what I had experienced."

Upon his release, Will discovered a new lease of life through physical exercise, eventually leading him to set a remarkable goal: swimming the English Channel to raise money and awareness for The Anthony Seddon Fund, a local mental health charity. His journey to prepare for this monumental swim has not only been a personal transformation but also an opportunity to give back to his community.

"It's only me in that water. If I can mentally get myself to the other side of that Channel, it will show others you can do whatever you want if you change your mindset," Will emphasized.

Now, with a loving family by his side, Will has committed himself to helping others. He has founded a men's talking group under the Directions for Men banner, providing a safe space for men to discuss their feelings and seek support.

Tameside Council supports efforts to raise awareness and promote mental health within the community. In Tameside, an average of 21 suicides occur each year, underscoring the urgency of addressing this critical issue.

Cllr Eleanor Wills, Tameside Council Executive Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: "Will's story is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit, and it underscores our shared responsibility to prioritise mental health within our community. It is through stories like Will's that we find hope and inspiration to address mental health challenges more effectively in Tameside."

On this Suicide Prevention Day, let's follow Will's lead and encourage everyone to talk openly about mental health as reaching out and seeking help can be a lifeline for those in need.

For more information about Suicide Prevention Day and resources, please visit https://www.shiningalightonsuicide.org.uk.

Anyone who is struggling can reach out to Samaritans at 116 123.

To find out more about mental health support available in Tameside, please visit https://www.tameside.gov.uk/mentalhealth.

For free online suicide awareness and prevention training and resources visit https://zerosuicidealliance.com/

To view Will’s full story, watch this YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=glu-Wc-8F44