Giving Hope

If you are feeling low, or trampled, unappreciated, or forgotten…and you are reading this, realize it is an illusion…the hope is real…you are valued…and what lies ahead…is brilliance.” – Tom Althouse

Just before Christmas 2006, Clare Milford Haven’s world was ripped apart. Her eldest son James, aged only 21 – who loved his family, loved his friends, loved his sport – killed himself.

She had no forewarning, no previous experience of mental illness. It just happened to her – and her family – and James’s friends.

James had elected to have a minor procedure that December. It was straightforward and successful but he came out of the operation in state of anxiety. Nevertheless he was intent on returning to university to get his exams done but, once there, he went to a walk-in centre and told them he felt suicidal. The centre sent him to A&E as a ‘Priority 4’ – a category given to sufferers of toothache. He went but stayed only for 30 minutes. If you are in a state of emotional distress, the Emergency Room is the worst place to go. Two days later James was dead.

“For me the tragedy was that he went looking for help. That he was the highest risk category – a young man of 21, trying to express how he felt – and they didn’t help him. They didn’t’ ring his GP. They didn’t ring me.”

The bald facts are something all mothers should know. “Men are 3 times as likely to kill themselves: they don’t know how to talk, to articulate their pain. They tend to act out rather than work through it.”  –  sources:

Clare and her husband have set up a trust for James to create places that people like James can go to in a crisis.  It will be called ‘James’s Place.’   –

This heartfelt story is not uncommon and infact is growing every year.  Why do our men feel like they cannot express their grief, their fears and their pain?  How can we help these young men to know there is a safe place to be vulnerable and to trust that follow-up and support is always available?

“Suicide is something that people should look at, rather than look away from”- Clare Milford

We can all do our part during this holiday season to watch out for those who seem down or detached from their environment.  To reach out and check up on those that seem to slip under the radar and for those who tell you they are okay and yet, seem deeply sad and lost.

There are wonderful support systems in place around the world for Suicide prevention and yet, I still feel there is a deeper issue in society that leave men in particular, unable to believe they can trust in others and express their pain without feeling judged or feeling less of a man.

“You never know what’s around the corner. It could be everything. Or it could be nothing. You keep putting one foot in front of the other, and then one day you look back and you’ve climbed a mountain.” – Tom Hiddleston


12 thoughts on “Giving Hope

    1. Thanks Diana and I am glad they were able to create this center for others in the same position.

      We are all affected by suicide and we can all make a difference with our attitude and support for one another, allowing people to feel they can share their pain and grief in a supportive environment. We can’t always change their mind, but we can let them know we care.

  1. I like this post. But the expression thing- it’s learned. While I’m really saddened by the outcome- his death (please offer his parents my condolences), I’m happy something good came out of the sad situation.

    1. I agree, our ability to express is learned from a very young age. Also the problem is society as a whole, often feels uncomfortable when people express their emotional pain, so even though some people find it hard to share, we too have a responsibility to encourage others and perhaps allow that part they hide, to be expressed. Many thanks for your comment, I appreciate it.

  2. A wonderful article… I can only share a thought and perspective on why men don’t express their emotions or articulate their thoughts and feelings well. In my life and the way I was raised as are many boys that become men it was considered a sign of weakness to do so. I was raised in the old school way that “Men don’t cry, don’t be a wimp what are you a little girl? ” These were common statements made by my parents, grandparents even my coaches in school sports would voice those kinds of thoughts. Given that most men are scared to look weak, be shot down by not having their feelings acknowledged or looked at as lees than or un manly… My dad and my grandfather for example never gave hugs, or said I love you to any of the boys in our family. It wasn’t just my dad, my step dad was the same way. Unfortunately that was how many men were raised to be “Macho and never shed a tear be a mans man….” That is the sad truth for many, it takes a great deal of effort to break that cycle and to love yourself if you grow up in that environment. Even shedding a tear brings a sense of shame, it is unfortunate that men won’t go and get help, say from a therapist because of the stigma attached to that as well which to them is a sign of weakness. Just a thought and observation, I have had a few of my friends commit suicide for various reasons and wouldn’t ask for help. It is unfortunate this young man had the courage to ask and was not helped. There is a lesson for all in this, perhaps the person he asked felt like one of my coaches as a kid…” Man up don’t be a wuss aww just go to the emergency room you baby” what a tragedy. Sorry for the rant…
    Thank you for the thought provoking post!

    1. Joe thankyou, for a wonderful honest heartfelt reply and I am so grateful for your view on this topic. I too, have found this same problem in Counselling and know there is no easy resolution to this issue. These core beliefs that you speak of are deeply set in Men and as you say, even in those that perhaps are there to help those who seek help.

      I am so saddened by this and our Cousin also committed suicide after a short time with mental illness. The incredible ripple effect it has on so many can be devastating.

      Becoming aware of this attitude and belief perhaps is all we can do right now and hopefully can lead us into becoming more compassionate and understanding of this important issue. Many thanks.

  3. Very sad. I am disheartened by the services provided by emergency services and that there is no easy access for the correct help for when one feels down. Hopefully these new crisis support services will assist others.

    1. It is sad Elizabeth, and sometimes in the busyness of emergency services, people don’t get the attention they need. Jame’s family can only hope that their new centre can support and prevent another young man from taking his life. Thankyou for your comment.

  4. Karen I wish my brother had somewhere he could have went, to talk about his depression. But unfortunately unlike women, men seem to think it is a sign of weakness to admit to feeling low. Im with Clare, the more we discuss these issues the better for everybody. I miss my brother every day and still wish he could have asked for help.

    1. I am so sorry for your loss Kath, it is such a difficult grief to go through. Some men do feel this is a sign of weakness and feel they are alone in this awful pain. Awareness and conscious effort is definitely a start for this important issue to change, and for our men and women to feel that there is hope. Many thanks for your beautiful open heart and for sharing your story.

  5. Yeah, the hard part was that he actually asked for help. Something i would think takes a lot for him to do. The only thing I can share is on an individual level. Treating another human with enough respect and care, and importance.
    It’s not just societal. It’s natural for men to be full of their ego and machismo. I think.

    1. You are right Rommel, it is a natural state for men and it is a very sad story, as all suicide is. If we can become more aware of each other and even ask questions we normally wouldn’t, can all help towards this issue.

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