In loving memory of Michelle & Peter

This World Suicide Prevention Day we are talking to Jon Salmon and John Goodwin who both have personal experiences with suicide.

Jon and John met at college with dreams of being successful music artists, and 20 years on, have run in this year’s Virgin London Marathon for Best Beginnings and Heads Together to raise funds and awareness mental health.

Why is World Suicide Prevention Day so important to you?

Jon Salmon (JS) “We’ve both been affected by suicide. My dad, Peter, taking his life when I was younger in the 90s due to depression. My personal battles with mental health and attempt to take my own life in my early 20s. Then your sister, Michelle, taking her life last year due to postnatal depression.”

John Goodwin (JG) "I always associated postnatal depression with first time mums, so when Michelle became depressed after her second child was born I put it down to 'too many things going on' as she was planning a wedding, renovating the house and looking after two small children. It was a big shock when she died. That's why World Suicide Prevention Day is so important. We don't want others to experience what our families have been through.”

This year’s World Suicide Prevention Day theme is ‘Take a minute, change a life”. What does this mean to you?

JS “Many of us have been raised to not talk about these kinds of things! I only recently found out that postnatal depression affects around 1 in 10 women during pregnancy and the first year after birth, which is shocking. I didn't know what to expect when my wife was pregnant with our first child; luckily all was fine. We got some great information and support.

That is why it is great to be involved with the amazing Best Beginnings charity, who are providing help and advice to expectant parents-to-be and new parents via their Baby Buddy app and informative videos.  Mental health is only just starting to be talked about despite suicide being the leading cause of death for pregnant women in the UK, and for men aged between 20 and 49 years. We need to change the conversation about mental health so that everyone knows it’s okay to talk about it and share to help their own mental health.”

JG “It’s something I realised too late with Michelle. She found it hard to talk and I didn't know how to talk to her. I hadn't even considered she would take her own life. I thought never in a million years, but you look back and there were some signs that I just missed. I remember my sister just withdrawing away from the family, mixed with this feeling and hopelessness. That she couldn't do anything right. We must get better at talking about mental health, recognising the signs of postnatal depression and other mental illnesses, but also taking a minute to listen to our loved ones.” 

Given the importance of  World Suicide Prevention Day to you, what advice can you suggest to others?

JG "If we know what signs to look for, we’re better equipped to look out for others so they don't take the same fate as my sister and Jon’s dad.  Things like unexpected changes in mood and behaviour, like anger outbursts, becoming withdrawn, or not getting dressed, fatigue, feelings of hopelessness, and changes in appetite and weight.  While, listening with patience is very important, seeking professional help as soon as possible is critical.   Sometimes as a family member you might be too close to be able to have the right discussions."

JS "From our own experiences we now know some of the signs to look out for when someone is feeling suicidal. My advice for anyone who knows someone going through a challenging time would be to listen without judgement. Don’t be afraid to ask why they feel that they can’t cope. It can be very hard to deal with, but you have to realise that it is okay not to have all the answers.

If you notice some of these signs, don’t wait; speak up! Encourage them to speak to loved ones, their GP and to reach out to support organisations. Taking that minute to act can be the difference to changing a life."

For more information on postnatal depression, download Baby Buddy and watch our Out of the Blue films.

For support, please contact your local healthcare professional, or there are a number of organisations who offer support and advice: