Gemma Carlier is raising awareness of a charity which helps depressed young men. Catherine Scott finds out why.
Matthew Stringer was just 26 when he died after being hit by a train.
Now his partner, Gemma Carlier, is organising a fund-raising concert in Matt’s memory and to raise awareness of the charity the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM).
For Gemma, who is still getting used to life without Matt, the gig at Keighley Arts Exchange on Friday has given her something to focus on.
“Matt was a huge music lover and a really talented musician. He played in the band which opened the Exchange Arts Centre in Keighley and so we thought it was a fitting place to hold the gig, All the bands we have booked are bands he loved.
“Matt did have a funeral but we wanted to have more of a celebration of his life and raise money for CALM.” Gemma and Matt had been together for two years before he died. He was very close to Gemma’s seven-year-old daughter and had been due to look after her the night he went missing.
“I was going out and we had a babysitter booked until 10pm when Matt was supposed to take over,” explains Gemma from Huddersfield.
“I got back at about 2am and the babysitter was still at home frantic as Matt hadn’t turned up. It was very unlike him. He doted on my daughter and would never have let her down which is why I knew something was wrong.”
When Matt still didn’t arrive, Gemma called the police and registered him missing. She also launched a social media campaign to try to find him. But in the early hours of that Sunday morning British Transport Police informed West Yorkshire Police that Matt’s body had been found after it had been hit by a train at South Elmsall. They then informed Gemma.
“I took my daughter and went straight round to Matt’s mum’s house. We had to break the news to Holly that Matt had had an accident with a train, as we knew the news would get out and we didn’t want her to hear it from anyone else. I don’t think she fully understood and for a few days she seemed ok, but then we went back home and it suddenly sank in that he wasn’t coming back and she was devastated. She didn’t go to his funeral, but she wrote a poem.”
Gemma says Matt’s mum and family and friends have been a great support to her during a very difficult few months.
“She has been so strong for the rest of the family,” says Gemma.
Matt, who worked in technical support for Plusnet, had a history of depression, but Gemma says he always seemed to bounce back.
An inquest has still to be held into his death, but Gemma believes that there should be more awareness of charities like CALM, particularly in places where young men congregate.
“The levels of suicide in young men are just too high. The statistics are shocking.”
Male suicide accounts for 77 per cent of all suicides in the UK and is now the single biggest cause of death in men aged 20 – 49 in England and Wales.
“More needs to be done to raise awareness of this shocking statistics and where young men can go to get help if they feel they can’t talk to their doctor.
“There needs to be a targeted campaign and football grounds and clubs, at all places where young men congregate so that they encouraged to seek help before it gets too much for them. The Government needs to hold a television campaign in the adverts during football matches to make is easier for men to say they just aren’t coping. There also needs to be more support for the families left behind.”
Organising the Marching on Together concert has given Gemma something to focus her energies on and fill the gap that losing Matt has left in her life.
“He was such a wonderful man. We might only have been together two years but we had a real connection from the moment we met. I know it sounds cheesy but we were a really happy family unit. I do take comfort in the fact that we have some great memories of the times we had together.”
CALM aims to reduce the number of young men committing suicide.
Marching on Together is being held at the Arts Exchange Keighley on Friday, July 11.
Tickets cost £5. For more information visit www.facebook.com/events/1503896823165762/