“People need to talk more, we all do. We need to share more, be there for each other more, and it’s not a difficult thing to go up to someone and be like, how are you?”Lauren Oxley
I’d like to introduce you to my best friend Lauren. I included how much I am grateful for her friendship on my gratitude list yesterday, but I wasn’t able to express the true extent of her beautiful soul.
Lauren and I have been good friends for approximately seven years now, but I have known her for about 12 years. In 2013 everything changed for Lauren, and with her consent I want to share with you her story, in the hope that this can help people suffering.
Almost six years ago Lauren’s dad committed suicide. He had been suffering from depression when Lauren and I were in our first year at university, but no-one could have predicted early on how serious his illness would become.
I won’t go into the exact details because it’s not my place to explain, but it was an awful time for Lauren and her family and I can’t even begin to imagine the pain it caused, because watching from the outside was heartbreaking enough.
I’ll never forget the phone call when Lauren rang to tell me her dad had taken his own life. It was the worst call because I felt so helpless, I wanted to take her pain away and tell her everything would be OK, but I couldn’t and I didn’t have the words.
Above is a documentary Lauren made as part of her dissertation in the last year of University, and it is one of the bravest pieces of filmmaking I have ever seen. Please watch the video above on YouTube and share it, so I can help her raise as much awareness as possible.
Lauren embarked upon a journey to find support groups for mental health and along the way she discovered an organisation called Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide (SOBS). They ‘exist to meet the needs and break the isolation experienced by those bereaved by suicide’.
Through Lauren’s Lives Left Behind documentary she discovered that the closest support groups to the North East of England were in Penrith in Scotland and in Cumbria. People from the North East were doing long journeys to reach these groups.
This struck a chord with Lauren and her family, who also felt like they needed access to a support group. So in October 2018 they set up their own SOBS group in Whitley Bay; so people who have suffered the loss of a loved one to suicide from the North East could access this network.
Lauren never fails to amaze me with her incredible inner strength and kind-heartedness to help others and I am so proud of her, that I had to share her story.
If you would like to access a SOBS support group please follow this link.
If you’d like to donate to SOBS you can do so here.
If you are suffering with your mental health I have a list of helplines on my website which you can find here. Please know that you are not alone and there is help out there for you.
And finally, if this story has touched you, please share it far and wide, the more people know about these groups the better, because as Lauren says: “something needs to be done about this”.