I wanted to end my life. But help is out there
Lee Watts was so desperately low, he tried to take his own life. Four years later and he has an important message for others. The Telegraph has teamed up with Mind, the mental health charity, to feature a series of articles marking this week’s World Menta
DON’T bottle it up, talk to someone about it. Help is out there.” That’s the message from Lee Watts, of Rugby, who attempted to take his own life four years ago.
It’s a hugely important message and one that mental health charity Mind is keen to share – especially among men, given that suicide is the biggest killer of men aged under 45 across the UK.
The charity is a partner in the delivery of It Takes Balls to Talk, a campaign at sports events across Coventry and Warwickshire which aims to get men talking about mental health.
Lee was among the It Takes Balls to Talk campaigners at the Ricoh Arena last month for the Wasps vs Harlequins match.
He spoke about his experiences to show anyone who might feel like he once did that there is a way forward with the right support. Speaking of his desperation at the time, Lee, 27, said: “I’d not long left college, been let out into the real world, and was looking for a job but was unable to find one.
“There had also been a few deaths in the family, which didn’t help my feelings of isolation, loneliness and desperation.
“I’d felt desperately low and tried to take my own life in October 2013 because I saw no other option and no other way to turn.”
Lee immediately told his mum and went on to get help through a GP and counselling, and then began attending the Rugby Wellbeing Hub in Cromwell Road. This is one of several in the area run by Coventry and Warwickshire Mind to offer free drop-in support services for anyone who needs it.
Things are looking up for Lee, who is helping others as a Peer Supporter at the Hub.
He is due to start a degree in counselling and is physically healthier than he has ever been, having lost 10st through regular exercise since his suicide attempt.
He said: “The Wellbeing Hub helped because I was around other people, people like me, and I knew I wasn’t alone. It helped me grow in confidence.
“The person I am now is very different to who I was then.
“My message to anyone feeling the same as I did is this – don’t bottle it up, talk to someone about it. Let it all out. Help is out there.”
Suicide kills more adults in Coventry and Warwickshire than road traffic accidents.
The latest figures from Public Health England show that in Warwickshire, 175 died by suicide between 2013 and 2015.
And Office for National Statistics figures reveal that between 2005 and 2015, some 320 Coventry residents took their own lives – about 32 per year on average.
Coventry and Warwickshire Mind works to tackle the stigma and silence on the subject.
Kay St Clair, Coventry and Warwickshire Mind’s chief executive officer, said: “We are proud of Lee for sharing his experience and are delighted that he has joined us in working for the charity, as we strive to ensure no one feels they have to face a mental health problem alone, because one suicide is one too many.”
Lee has produced a series of videos detailing the thoughts of those closest to him as they reflect on his suicide attempt. The videos are on YouTube – search ‘Lee from Coventry and Warwickhire Mind’ to find Lee’s story: Parts 1, 2 and 3 – as well as cwmind.org.uk.
Coventry and Warwickshire Mind is affiliated to Mind, the leading mental health charity for England and Wales, and forms part of the Local Mind network. The charity offers free support to people across Coventry and Warwickshire and its mission is to provide quality services, reduce stigma and promote positive mental health and wellbeing.
Further information about Coventry and Warwickshire Mind is available at cwmind.org.uk and It Takes Balls to Talk at ittakesballstotalk.com
The It Takes Balls To Talk campaign at the Ricoh Arena last month and above, Lee Watts is in a much better place today