Loss of ‘gifted’ Janet spurs a call for change

Be­reaved friend wants to raise aware­ness of sui­cide risk

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS - By Kather­ine Cle­men­tine kather­ine.cle­men­tine@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

A MAN who lost a friend to sui­cide is us­ing her story to raise aware­ness of is­sues sur­round­ing men­tal health.

An­drew Sa­muels was moved by the sad death of Janet Dear­don, who took her own life aged 40 in July 2014, leav­ing be­hind three chil­dren, af­ter suf­fer­ing a his­tory of de­pres­sion.

She lived in Hayes but had fled to the Ham­mer­smith and Ful­ham area to es­cape an abu­sive re­la­tion­ship and met An­drew there.

He told the Gazette: “Janet was a warm and friendly per­son. If she saw some­one else who needed help or needed some­thing she would give it.

“Be­cause of her per­son­al­ity she had this abil­ity to reach out to peo­ple. She would talk to peo­ple and im­me­di­ately they would feel com­fort­able with her. It was won­der­ful to watch, she was gifted in that way and a real loss be­cause of that.

“She wanted to get out of her men­tal health prob­lems so she could help other peo­ple.”

Mr Sa­muels said meet­ing Janet had in­spired him to change ca­reers, from an IT man­ager to help­ing at Hilling­don Mind, which is part of the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion for Men­tal Health char­ity.

He said so­cial ser­vices took Janet’s son at the same time she was hos­pi­talised for treat­ment, prior to her death.

“Peo­ple with men­tal health prob­lems hide their prob­lems,” he added. “They’re very good at putting up a front and keep­ing things pri­vate.

“Un­for­tu­nately that’s the worst thing you can do be­cause you do need to talk to peo­ple and you need to share.

“Janet went to get help at the hos­pi­tal and they ac­tu­ally turned her away and sent her home.

“When she asked for her son back that same morn­ing they said no. So one of the only sup­ports she had was taken away from her.

“From that point her de­cline was huge. She was a strong in­di­vid­ual at that time, and I watched her fall from that height.

“Peo­ple about to com­mit sui­cide show pat­terns of be­hav­iour and one of them is with­draw­ing from ser­vices, be­cause that’s when they make the de­ci­sion that they’re go­ing to do it. They make plans.

“When she with­drew from ser­vices, with her his­tory, they just ac­cepted it. That should have been the red light.”

Mr Sa­muels now hopes to call on MPs to make changes to pol­icy on men­tal health and con­tinue his work rais­ing aware­ness of the is­sues sur­round­ing men­tal health.

Janet’s death was ruled as sui­cide fol­low­ing an in­quest at the West Lon­don Coro­ner’s Court which con­cluded on Jan­uary 27.

Hilling­don Mind can be con­tacted on 01895 271559.

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