You’re not alone
In support of their ‘You’re Not Alone’ campaign, I was recently interviewed by The Sun newspaper about the devastating experience I had earlier this year, when I lost my partner Mark.
I agreed to the interview because I believe it will help to raise awareness around mental health and in particular to help people struggling with suicidal thoughts – and their loved ones. Suicide very often leaves a trail of devastation in its wake – the surviving family and friends wondering what they did wrong and what they could have done differently – it was certainly no different in my case. I hope that my story and the work that I have gone on to do, will help many people.
That is why The Sun has launched the ‘You’re Not Alone’ campaign – to remind anyone facing a tough time, grappling with mental illness or feeling like there’s nowhere left to turn, that there is hope and help available. The aim is that by sharing practical advice, raising awareness and breaking down the barriers people face when talking about their mental health, we can all do our bit to help save lives..
Our First Press Release
Today is suicide prevention day, below you will find our first press release that briefly describes my experiences and why the work I am doing is so important…
Turning tragedy into hope: one woman’s mission to bust suicide and mental health stigma after partner’s death
A woman whose world was ripped apart when her partner took his own life is turning tragedy into hope with a new venture designed to bust mental health taboos and save lives.
Life was turned upside down for Claire Russell, 39, when fiancé Mark walked out of the door that Sunday evening. An hour later the 39-year-old was dead.
Now Claire, an entrepreneur and Samaritan volunteer, aims to encourage more open discussion in the corporate world on mental health and suicide.
In 2016, 5,668 suicides were recorded in Great Britain. 75 per cent of these were male with 25% female.
Suicide, described by Claire as ‘an epidemic’ is the most common cause of death for men aged 20-49 years in England and Wales, reveal statistics from the Mental Health Foundation.
Claire is passionate about sharing Mark’s story and highlighting these worrying figures to set in motion action for positive change.
Claire and ex-teacher Mark met through business networking and spent nearly a year together before Mark’s suicide. Claire was pregnant with Mark’s child at the time of his death but, weeks later, received another devastating blow when her baby died.
Driven by her own experiences, which also include a personal battle with depression, anxiety and alcohol misuse, Claire wants to share her story and bring mental health support and awareness into UK boardrooms. This will be delivered through training, workshops, coaching and more.
“There are huge taboos and stigma around mental health and suicide and I am on a mission to start busting them, removing them and getting people talking honestly, openly and frankly about the issue,” says Claire. “It’s the only way we are going to see the necessary change.”
Despite all the tragedy of the past few months Claire says she saw early on that she could creative something positive out of something so awful.
“I know it may be difficult to fully understand but I realised there was a purpose for me. So, capitalising on my 20 year corporate career I am now going back into the corporate world and working with organisations to help them to effect change.
“This has a huge ripple effect. Corporates that make a cultural change in their business effect their people and their families in a positive way,“ she says.
Mental Heath in Business Ltd will not only offer the skills of experienced trainers and coaches, it will also bring to the table the experience of people who have battled some of the common issues around mental health and suicidal thoughts, such as substance and alcohol abuse.
Claire explains: “By working with businesses in both the private and public sector we can raise awareness and change our working culture, creating a much more positive attitude towards mental health. This in turn helps businesses better support the people who work in their organisations.
She adds: “I’ve been passionate about working with people with mental health issues, specifically with people who live with suicidal thoughts, for many years. Being involved with The Samaritans and what’s happened with Mark has fuelled this even further.
“If I can be a part of effecting change then it somehow makes everything that’s happened to me easier to bear.”
She concludes: “Things were looking really good for Mark and he seemed really excited about our plans. Then on, March 5, Mark took his own life. He’d been with me that day and had spent a lot of the weekend with friends who said he appeared to be happier than he had been in a long time.
“I could have gone over the edge as I was in a really precarious position but thanks to the amazing support network around me I didn’t. There was something for me to do and this is it.”
World Suicide Prevention Day takes place on Monday, September 10.
For more information about this for help and support please go to www.samaritans.org
For more information on Mental Health in Business Ltd go to mhib.co.uk
For more on Claire and Mark’s story and Claire’s work or images please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07920461044
Between 2003 and 2013, 18, 220 people with mental health problems took their own life in the UK.
1 person in 15 had made a suicide attempt at some point in their life
The suicide rate in Scotland rose by 8% between 2015 and 2016, with 728 suicides registered in Scotland in 2016.