IT can happen to your sister, brother, mum, dad, son, daughter, friend, as well as celebrities… mental illness doesn’t discriminate.
Today it emerged that Love Island star Sophie Gradon was found hanged at her parent’s home last June, after taking a cocktail of booze and cocaine.
An inquest into the 32-year-old’s death heard the former beauty queen told a close friend she had been battling mental health issues.
Sondeep Gill told North Shields Coroners Court, Sophie had said: “I cannot do this any more I struggle every day with my ADD (attention deficit disorder).
“I would never want to do that to my family but if I could escape I would. I have been struggling with the world, no one knows why or how.”
Toxicology tests showed Sophie had a blood reading of 201mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood – around three times the legal drink drive limit, and there were traces of cocaine in her system.
Coroner Eric Armstrong issued a stark warning, quoting research in the US that found mixing drink and drugs makes it 16 times more likely someone will kill themselves.
He said he was “certain she would not have acted as she did without taking alcohol and cocaine”.
Recording a narrative verdict, he said he could not deliver a verdict of suicide but ruled out any third party involvement.
Sources close to Sophie’s family said they believed there was “nothing to support” the suicide theory, the Mail Online reported.
The inquest comes after another Love Island star, Mike Thalassitis was found hanged in a park in Edmonton, London last month.
1 in 4 will suffer mental illness
One in four of us will be affected by mental health problems, every year – from stress, to anxiety and depression.
That’s why The Sun launched the You’re Not Alone campaign, to remind those in the grips of mental illness that there is hope.
And to encourage people to watch out for the warning signs a loved one could be in trouble.
Something as subtle as a change in attitude, or a friend withdrawing from the group, could be a key warning sign something is wrong, experts told The Sun Online.
The key signs your loved one is struggling with depression
Laura Peters, head of advice at the charity Rethink Mental Illness, told The Sun: “There are some common symptoms that run through many mental illnesses.”
- Sudden change in character/behaviour. For example, becoming silent and withdrawn; risky or dangerous; spending excessively
- Being inactive or sleeping more than usual
- Lack of sleep or insomnia. Some people find they struggle to get to sleep and will go days without proper rest.
- Extreme mood swings
- Substance abuse – think drinking more than usual or taking drugs
- Thinking about suicide – many people think about suicide for a long time before they realise they need help
A simple ‘are you OK?’ can make all the difference
While in the grips of a mental illness, it can be something as simple as someone asking “are you OK?” that can make all the difference, Lorna Fraser of the Samaritans, told The Sun Online.
If problems build up, suicidal thoughts can creep in and people can quickly reach crisis point, she warned.
When a person feels they can’t cope, hopeless, frustrated and alone, they can believe there is no other way out.
What should you do if you think someone is struggling?
Asking someone if they are OK can feel daunting, especially if you suspect they aren’t.
The easiest thing to do is to look the other way and hope someone else asks instead.
But, stepping up and asking the question could make all the difference. It shows you care, that you’re there to help and reminds them they are not alone.
The Sun's You're Not Alone campaign aims to help prevent deaths from suicide
EVERY 90 minutes in the UK a life is lost – to suicide.
It doesn’t discriminate, touching the lives of people in every corner of society – from the homeless and unemployed to builders and doctors, reality stars and footballers.
It’s the biggest killer of people under the age of 35, more deadly than cancer and car crashes. And men are three times more likely to take their own life than women.
Yet, it’s rarely spoken of, a taboo that threatens to continue its deadly rampage unless we all stop and take notice, now.
That is why The Sun has launched the You’re Not Alone campaign. To remind anyone facing a tough time, grappling with mental illness or feeling like there’s nowhere left to turn, that there is hope.
We share the stories of brave survivors, relatives left behind, heroic Good Samaritans – and tips from mental health experts.
The aim is that by sharing practical advice, raising awareness and breaking down the barriers people face when talking about their mental health, we can all do our bit to help save lives.
Let’s all vow to ask for help when we need it, and listen out for others.
You’re Not Alone.
For a list of support organisations, see box below.
Letting someone know they have somewhere to turn to, a shoulder to cry on, a person to vent at, someone who will listen can help lift a weight from their shoulders.
“When somebody is really struggling with life often a person noticing that they are going through a difficult time and reaching out to offer help and being prepared to listen to them, it can be an extremely powerful sense of release,” Lorna added.
“There is no right thing to say, necessarily, it’s just about having that conversation with someone and letting them know you’re there for them if they want to talk.
“We need to make these part of an everyday, normal conversation so there isn’t such a barrier when it comes to talking about mental health.
“Even if you just ask someone ‘are you OK?’, gives a simple yes or no answer.
“You could also say things like ‘I’ve noticed you’ve been going through a rough time lately, do you want to talk about it?’ – it’s just about letting them know you are there if they want to talk.”
The life-changing relief of talking to someone…
As the saying goes: A problem shared is a problem halved.
It might sound silly, especially when talking about something as devastating as suicide, but it really will help you if you are feeling down.
“It can be incredibly powerful to share your problems with somebody else, whether that is someone you know, a family member or friend or whether that’s talking to someone on a helpline or whether it’s going to see your GP and organising professional help,” Lorna said.
You're Not Alone: Where to seek help if you need it
If you, or anyone you know, needs help dealing with mental health problems, the following organisations provide support:
- CALM, www.thecalmzone.net, 0800 585 858
- Heads Together, www.headstogether.org.uk
- Mind, www.mind.org.uk, 0300 123 3393
- Papyrus, www.papyrus-uk.org, 0800 068 41 41
- Samaritans, www.samaritans.org, 116 123
YOU'RE NOT ALONE
“It can bring such a huge relief to talk to people and share what is going on.
“We add a lot of pressure to our own situations. If you imagine if you’ve suffered some life events that are causing great difficulty you are already under pressure and having to cope with that, but we add to that by making ourselves feel that we need to hold it all together and paint this picture that everything is OK.
“That just adds too much pressure to a situation that is already difficult to cope with and there is no need for people to do that.
“You are not alone, there is always somebody you can talk to who can help you.”
IF you are having suicidal thoughts, suffering from anxiety or depression or just want to talk, call The Samaritans on 116 123.