Woman whose husband took his own life is setting up a new Bassetlaw bereavement support group

A woman whose husband took his own life is setting up a new Bassetlaw bereavement support group for families whose relatives have taken their own lives.

Tuesday, 11th May 2021, 12:35 pm
L to R Vicky, Chloe and Tony Waring.

Vicky Waring, who lost husband Tony, in December 2017 came up with the idea of setting up a local branch of Survivors of Bereavement By Suicide after struggling to access the right services when navigating her own grief.

Mrs Waring and daughter Chloe’s world was turned upside down following the death of Mr Waring and believes that SOBS could help local families struggling with their grief.

Mrs Waring said: “Obviously we have been on a journey for want of better word. Grief by suicide is not the same as it is for someone who has lost a family member to natural causes, it’s a very different process.

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"There are a lot of emotions, resentment, anger, guilt. I wasn't aware of any services that were available locally to help relatives dealing with this other than counselling services and much later on in my grief journey I came across SOBS and remember thinking I wish I had found them earlier so I wanted to do something to support people locally dealing with this kind of grief.”

The move comes as Bassetlaw Clinical Commissioning Group confirmed over £4 million is being invested in mental health services in the region over the next few years.

SOBS launched in 1991 in Hull after founder Alice Middleton put an an advert in her local paper seeking to make contact with others who had been bereaved by suicide following the death of her brother.

The charity has grown to become the only national charity providing dedicated support to adults who have been bereaved by suicide.

Plans are well underway to launch the SOBS group in Bassetlaw with discreet monthly two hour meetings expected to start in Retford in the summer.

Dr Eric Kelly local GP and chair of Bassetlaw CCG said “The impact of losing someone from suicide is completely devastating to anyone who is affected.

"We recognise that it is really important that those people bereaved by suicide can access the help and support they need in Bassetlaw.

"The CCG is pleased to be a part of the SOBS charity. The group is based on those who have experienced their own grief from suicide and can now offer help and support to others bereaved and affected by the sad impacts of suicide.

"The CCG is committed to ongoing suicide prevention work in the locality and over £4 million is being invested in mental health services in Bassetlaw over the next few years to ensure everyone can access the right mental health service they need.”

Mrs Waring says there were no warning signs before her husband took his own life and the family were left struggling to pick up the pieces.

She said: “Tony had had no diagnosis of depression, he wasn't known to services locally and never went to the GP about anything really so everyone was really shocked, there really were no signs.

"I was shopping when I got a phone call from my daughter to say she had found her dad at home. We never went back home again we moved straight away.

"I searched for answers and needed to find some kind of reason behind it, people say the same old thing. Did they have financial issues? marital issues? People want answers but there was nothing.

"The only thing of any significance was since finishing in the mining industry he had found it difficult to settle in terms of work and was struggling to find his feet and where he fit in terms of a work path but nothing that would trigger anything like this.”

Mr Waring had been a miner for 19 years before finishing the job at the age of 41 due to the collapse of the industry, but was enjoying a new job at Wilkinson’s in Worksop.

Mrs Waring, from Retford, said: “He hadn’t been there long but it was a really good job and good hours and he was enjoying it, his colleagues couldn't believe it because he was always laughing and seemed happy at work so they were completely shocked like the rest of us.

“He was a very good man and his little family were everything to him, as long as we were together that’s all he was ever bothered about. He worked hard, he loved his motorbike, but family was his thing.

“He wasn’t bothered about going out with the lads he was all about spending time with us.

"Our daughter Chloe was extremely close with her dad and it has been so tough on her but the resilience she has shown has been amazing. Chloe went back to college and completed her journalism training and has been so strong.”

South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw has a higher suicide rate than the English average, with Bassetlaw suicide rates currently the highest in the whole of Nottinghamshire.

Mrs Waring believes more needs to be done to help reduce suicide rates and provide support for family members.

"We know that 60 per cent of people are more likely to take their own life after the loss of a relative through suicide and 80 per cent likely drop out of education as a result so it’s a public health issue as well,” she said.

"I approached local NHS services to say I thought there was a gap in services here and I didn’t want people to go through what I had gone through.

"I was already looking into setting up my own support group when I came across SOBS and thought why didn’t I know about this 18 months ago. I approached the NHS locally who were already thinking about offering more support services as Basetlaw has the highest figures in Nottinghmashire for suicide.

"We do have an issue in this area with suicides and so we need to make sure support services are available.

"People need a safe space to be able to say the things they wouldn’t feel comfortable saying to family and friends and the meetings will allow people to do that.

"You need someone to be able to talk too and feel that you are not being judged, in the aftermath of a suicide you feel isolated and feel that people are talking about you or pointing at you and judging you. The meetings allow you to say how you truly feel without judgement.

"There’s a whole stigma surrounding suicide and we need to be more honest and open about the way we speak about it, allowing people to say how they feel.

"When Tony died I would never use the word suicide but now when I speak to people about mental health I use the word suicide and ask people do you feel suicidal instead of do you feel depressed – we need to remove that stigma around the word and make sure people can speak about it.”

People accessing the SOBS service will also be able to contact volunteers for help and access help at uksobs.org/

When life is difficult, Samaritans are here – day or night, 365 days a year. You can call them for free on 116 123 or email [email protected] Visit www.samaritans.org for more information.