Boxer Frank Bruno is in Skipton this weekend to support a charity set up in memory of Samuel Carroll who took his own life. Catherine Scott reports.
It is three years since Samuel Carroll took his own life and his family feel his loss as keenly as they did they day it happened.
“People say time is a healer but we are not finding that,” says Samuel’s sister, Hayley.
What has helped Hayley and other members of her family is the campaign she set up on her brother’s death. Samuel’s Rainbow aims to raise awareness of suicide and mental health issues in young men and also organises a monthly ‘Sunday social’ support group.
“After Samuel passed away everyone was in a really dark place. Then a massive rainbow came out over the woodland where he was found, and it made me determined that another family could not go through what we were going through.
“Suicide is not spoken about and it should be.”
As well as organising a 12,000 signature petition asking for greater support for young men with depression, Hayley organises an annual event to mark the anniversary of her little brother’s death, which has raised more than £10,000 for local charities.
This weekend, boxing legend Frank Bruno is guest speaker at the sold-out event in Skipton.
He has talked openly about his personal battle with mental health issues.
“Frank has been a huge supporter of Samuel’s Rainbow ever since we started and it is great that he coming along to Saturday’s event. As well as raising awareness of mental health it will be a celebration of Samuel’s life,” says Hayley.
Samuel was only 20 when he took his own life in May 2016.
He was the youngest and six children and, although he suffered from dyslexia, he was determined to make something of his life, says Hayley.
“Samuel was one of six and the baby of the family.
“Although he had severe dyslexia, he managed to come away with 11 GCSEs.
“He was quiet but could be quite cheeky, we all loved him.”
She said Samuel had been down ever since the death of their father from cancer two years earlier, but never gave any indication of how bad things were.
Hayley wanted something positive to come out of her experience by encouraging young men to talk about their mental health.
Through her regular “Sunday Social’ events she brings people together in Skipton one Sunday a month to discuss issues in an informal environment.
It has about a dozen families that attend regularly and does a great deal to support mental health in her community.
Hayley has also helped to fundraise for a local café that helps people with mental health issues.
“Even if you write it down in a letter – just talk to someone.”
Hayley wish is that Samuel’s death was not in vain and messages like one she recently received on Facebook make her determined to continue.
“We got a message from a lady saying her son had opened up about his depression and suicidal thoughts and she was sure it had saved his life. That makes it all worthwhile.”
Hayley likes talking about Samuel, keeping his memory alive, and the work she does allows her to do this. The motto of Samuel’s Rainbow is “Even though you’re fed up you’ve got to keep your head up”.
“Talking about Samuel helps keep his memory alive and I will keep doing that until my dying breath.”
And, last month she won a national award for her community work with Samuel’s Rainbow.
She was named winner of the Tenant of the Year accolade at a national awards ceremony.
Hayley received a standing ovation during her acceptance speech to the audience at the Tpas Awards, (a tenant engagement specialist group).
“I’m really proud to have been awarded the Tenant of the Year at the Tpas Awards. Samuel’s Rainbow encourages males to speak up and let their feelings be known to their family. I always said that Sam wouldn’t be another statistic, his story can and will help to save other people’s lives.”
James Haigh, community investment manager at Yorkshire Housing said: “Hayley works tirelessly on Samuel’s Rainbow and really deserves this award. She has promoted some great things up in Skipton and helped lots of families to come together and talk openly. The standing ovation she received on stage shows how highly people feel about the work she is doing.”
Also nominated in the Inspirational Young Tenant of the Year category were Hayley’s nephews Skyler and Ellis Carroll. The boys were inspired by their aunt Hayley, and her work to raise people’s awareness of the impact of mental health on young men.
“The boys get involved in Samuel’s Rainbow as much as possible and assist with a range of activities within their neighbourhood,” says Hayley.
“They lost their dad to suicide and then their uncle which is devastating. They help so much and try so hard at Samuel’s Rainbow fund-raisers and never stop.”
As well as greater awareness of mental health , Hayley would like to see waiting times for mental health appointments to be reduced. “My mum was on a waiting list for two years before she was able to get any treatment. That just isn’t good enough. If you broke your arm and went to hospital they wouldn’t make you wait you’d be treated straight away, I think mental health should be treated the same way.”
She would also like to see a fourth emergency service created which would include mental health ambulances which could give immediate help to people in need.
Suicide is more common in some groups than others.
For example, it is much more likely among men than women, and in particular, men in their 30s, 40s and 50s, from lower socio-economic groups.
Suicide accounts for more deaths than road traffic accidents, particularly in people under the age of 35.
In 2017 there were 6,213 suicides in the UK and Republic of Ireland.
In the UK, men are three times as likely to take their own lives than women.
In the UK, the highest suicide rate was for men aged 45-49.
www.samaritans.org or call the free helpline 116123
More on Samuel’s Rainbow at en-gb.facebook.com/groups/654732508008664/