5th Jul, 2022

Coventry mum recalls 'beautiful' late sister for suicide prevention day

Correspondent 7th Sep, 2017

A COVENTRY mum has revealed how she is still affected by her sister’s suicide, to mark World Suicide Prevention Day on Sunday (September 10).

June Simkiss, of Styvechale, is preparing for the fourth anniversary of her sister Helen Crowley’s death aged 27.

Office for National Statistics figures show that between 2005 and 2015 some 320 Coventry residents took their own lives, about 32 per year on average.

June works for the mental health charity Coventry and Warwickshire Mind to help others and sometimes shares her experience so her sister’s death is not in vain.

Helen had depression and tragically took her own life following her ex-partner’s own suicide five years before.

Suicide is the biggest killer of men aged under 45 and he was 23. June believes her sister blamed herself but masked her true feelings.

Recalling the moment she was told the devastating news on the morning of October 27, 2013, June said: “I woke to my husband sitting down on the bed next to me, the look on his face said it all.

“My mother’s partner had called him to say that Helen had taken her life in the early hours of the morning, our brother Edward had found her. In that moment I felt like I had woken up into my worst nightmare.

“I had to make the call to tell my father, he made the most awful noise and dropped the phone, I could hear him sobbing, it was just awful. I then had to go on and make calls to other various family and friends.

“The whole day was a complete blur, I just remember speaking to the policeman who brought the suicide note to us and asking over and over if he was really sure it was her

“I just didn’t want to believe it. Later that evening I went to see her body in the hospital with her best friend. That image will stay with me until the day I die.”

June, a married mum-of-two, has suffered ongoing mental health problems since her teens and Helen’s death caused her to hit rock bottom.

“I can honestly say that without the love and support of my husband, children, family and wonderful friends I wouldn’t be here today,” admitted June.

“Helen was my best friend as well as my sister and I miss the sound of her laugh, it was so infectious, and that smile.

“She had the most amazing smile and brilliant white teeth. People would always comment on that and her beautiful dark hair which permanently shined as did she. She was such a beautiful person both inside and out.”

June received support from Coventry and Warwickshire Mind to become stronger and come to terms with the tragedy before becoming more involved as a volunteer.

In December last year she gained a position as a Wellbeing Support Worker at the Wellbeing Hub in Rugby, one of several in the area run by the mental health charity to offer free drop-in support services for anyone who needs it.

She said: “I remember thinking at that time of Helen’s death that if I could just help one person then her death wouldn’t be in vain.

“I miss Helen terribly and will always grieve for her, however by doing the work that I do I feel like I am keeping her memory alive in a way. I know she would be proud of me.”

To find out more about Coventry and Warwickshire Mind visit www.cwmind.org.uk

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