He­len’s death was my worst night­mare. But I’m try­ing to keep her mem­ory alive

Los­ing her sis­ter to sui­cide four years ago caused June Simkiss to hit rock bot­tom. Now she has turned her heartache around to help oth­ers. The Tele­graph has teamed up with Mind, the men­tal health char­ity, to run a se­ries of ar­ti­cles mark­ing this week’s W

Coventry Telegraph - - HEALTH MATTERS -

FOUR years ago this month, June Simkiss woke up to her worst night­mare. Her sis­ter He­len Crow­ley had taken her own life, at the age of 27.

June, a mar­ried mum-of-two from Coven­try, had suf­fered on­go­ing men­tal health problems since her teens. But He­len’s death by sui­cide caused her to hit rock bot­tom.

Four years on, and June has turned the heartache into a rea­son to help oth­ers.

Grate­ful for the sup­port she re­ceived from Coven­try and War­wick­shire Mind, June has be­come a vol­un­teer with the char­ity – so He­len’s death is not in vain.

He­len had de­pres­sion and trag­i­cally took her own life fol­low­ing her ex-part­ner’s own sui­cide five years be­fore.

He was 23 years old when he died and June be­lieves her sis­ter blamed her­self – but masked her true feel­ings.

Re­call­ing the dev­as­tat­ing news on the morn­ing of Oc­to­ber 27, 2013, June said: “I woke to my hus­band sit­ting down on the bed next to me, the look on his face said it all.

“My mother’s part­ner had called him to say that He­len had taken her life in the early hours of the morn­ing. Our brother Ed­ward had found her.

“In that mo­ment I felt like I had wo­ken up into my worst night­mare.

“I had to make the call to tell my fa­ther. He made the most aw­ful noise and dropped the phone.

“I could hear him sob­bing, it was just aw­ful. I then had to go on and make calls to other var­i­ous fam­ily and friends.

“The whole day was a com­plete blur.

“I just re­mem­ber speak­ing to the po­lice­man who brought the sui­cide note to us and ask­ing over and over if he was re­ally sure it was her. I just didn’t want to be­lieve it.

“Later that evening, I went to see her body in the hospi­tal with her best friend. That im­age will stay with me un­til the day I die.”

June vol­un­teered for two-and-a-half years be­fore be­com­ing a Well­be­ing Sup­port Worker at the Well­be­ing Hub in Rugby in De­cem­ber last year. The Hub is one of sev­eral in the area run by the char­ity to of­fer free drop-in sup­port ser­vices for any­one who might need it.

“I can hon­estly say that with­out the love and sup­port of my hus­band, chil­dren, fam­ily and won­der­ful friends, I wouldn’t be here to­day,” ad­mits June.

“He­len was my best friend as well as my sis­ter.

“I miss the sound of her laugh, it was so in­fec­tious, and that smile.

“She had the most amaz­ing smile and bril­liant white teeth. Peo­ple would al­ways com­ment on that and her beau­ti­ful dark hair which per­ma­nently shined, as did she.

“She was such a beau­ti­ful per­son both in­side and out.”

She adds: “I re­mem­ber think­ing at that time of He­len’s death, that if I could just help one per­son, then her death wouldn’t be in vain. I miss He­len ter­ri­bly and will al­ways grieve for her, how­ever, by do­ing the work that I do, I feel like I am keep­ing her mem­ory alive in a way.

“I know she would be proud of me.”

June’s time as a vol­un­teer in­cluded work for Coven­try and War­wick­shire Mind’s Be­friend­ing Ser­vice for adults, which needs vol­un­teers to help pro­vide sup­port in the com­mu­nity.

Can you spare two hours a week to sup­port some­one who is iso­lated due to their men­tal health? All vol­un­teers are given full train­ing, ex­penses and sup­port.

If you are in­ter­ested in find­ing out about this and other vol­un­teer­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties with Coven­try and War­wick­shire Mind, visit cw­mind.org.uk or call 024 7655 2847.

He­len was my best friend as well as my sis­ter. I miss the sound of her laugh June Simkiss

June Simkiss and be­low, with her sis­ter He­len

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