When my husband left me 40 years ago, I was left to raise 6 children. We were a loving family regardless of circumstances. I had 5 boys and 1 girl with a set of twins amongst. Thomas and George were identical and felt what the other felt even down to what they wore.

Thomas was the youngest twin, also the youngest boy, no matter where we went people remembered him. When he got older, he and his twin joined the Army, and both did well. In their twenties they both met lovely young girls whom they later married. George and his wife went on to have children, but Thomas didn’t. He adored his nephews and nieces, and we often had get togethers to celebrate something or another and Thomas would always be the life of the party. The last few times of family gatherings I noticed Thomas sitting alone so I asked was everything OK. His reply was always “fine mum, just tired” and I thought no more of it.

Thomas had started up a carpentry business and seemed to be enjoying it. I didn’t hear from him for a while and then one night he rang to say he was coming to see me. He didn’t turn up, but I wasn’t worried because that was the way the family was. They would say they are coming over but never did.

I was involved with quite a lot of charity work and one day I was speaking to another of the volunteers who told me that her mother had taken her own life after suffering with mental illness for some time. When I got home that evening, my phone rang, it was George who informed me that Thomas was dead. I asked him what happened, then George started to cry and said, “he’s taken his own life”. I felt like I had been punched in the stomach.

It turned out Thomas was in a lot of debt which he had hidden from his wife. They had also recently found out that they couldn’t have children, which I know would have been a huge blow for him.

Losing some-one to suicide is something only those who have experienced it first-hand can really understand. Everyone seems to have their own personal views on what events lead to Thomas taking his own life, but no one is to blame. This is not murder or an accident, this is suicide, the result of mental illness. Whether the illness was long-term or short-term, at the time of suicide, a thought disorder was present.

When I lost Thomas a part of me went with him. However, I know he is with me, always and forever. He would always smile and always loved life and family. There is a lot of pain inside of me which will remain with me forever, but I am learning to live with the grief and taking each day as it comes.