Nicola and David Abraham lost their eldest son Jacob in October 2015 aged just 24. He had taken his own life after a weekend out with his friends, during which, they later learned that he drank alcohol and took cocaine. His best friend also took his life 8 months later with coke in his system. Nicola and Andrew Smerdon lost their youngest son Tomas, aged just 22. Tom had survived a previous attempt to take his life when he was coming down from another coke fuelled weekend out with his mates 18 months before his eventual suicide in March 2019.
Jacob and Tom were both fun-loving and happy men from loving families, with jobs and girlfriends and no pre-diagnosed mental health illness. To create awareness around the links between cocaine and suicide, their parents both set up their own charities, Jacob Abraham Foundation and 4Tom, and have been working tirelessly to campaign for better understanding of these types of deaths and prevent more suicides.
In January 2020, Nicola Smerdon met Maggie Cee at a Suicide Prevention meeting where Maggie was working on a service user project to produce a suicide prevention leaflet aimed at young men. Maggie has personal experience of suicide and an active volunteer for Samaritans, and with her background in graphic design, saw a need for more prevention work in this area. As the pandemic hit in March, Maggie transferred the leaflet online at www.seesaysignpost.info.
Maggie continued engagement with Nicola and learned more about the issues around Tom's death and in April 2020 launched a survey on social media to try and find out more about what was happening in the local community. With over 800 responses in a week, the results of the questionnaire are shown here, proving that this issue needs more awareness and a dedicated approach.