“Losing Sam to suicide was incredibly traumatic, and something that is only really surfacing now - three years later.”
Ben West was 17 when his younger brother, Sam, took his own life in January 2018.
Now a mental health activist, Ben has gone on to lobby the government and encourage others to speak up.
Our trustee Sascha Williams, whose brother also died after taking his own life, spoke to Ben over Instagram Live about his experiences.
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In case you don’t have 20 minutes to watch the full chat - here are a few bits of what was discussed:
We’re human beings - not human doings
Sometimes doing things can be great for looking after your health - going for a run, journaling and keeping your mind busy.
But it's not the only option - and sometimes it's not the best. Ben says sometimes the best thing you can do, is to not do, but to just be.
“When I know I'm having a bad time, when I know it's affecting me I try to get outside, sit in some trees and just listen to the birds.”
He reminds us that sitting there and doing nothing is very beneficial for how we feel, so the next time you’re having a tough day - why not give it a go?
Recognise you have a carpet
Most of us have a metaphorical carpet.
A bit like when spring cleaning where you hide the dust under the rug, our carpet is a place in our mind where we sweep our feelings, experiences and emotions under.
Sometimes that can be a coping mechanism trying not to overburden ourselves with too much, but it's important to recognise it is there and sometimes take a look.
“The most important thing people can do is realise the carpet exists. Everyone does it, it’s very easy to ignore the carpet but you should realise you’re doing it. Ease yourself into lifting up the carpet and have a look”.
Answering dreaded questions
Do you have any brothers or sisters? It’s a question we’ve all been asked and, well, not all of us find it an easy one to answer.
The answer is of course yes, but is it too complicated to explain the situation? Ben says that in reality it should be easy to answer but it’s still one that gives him a moment of panic.
Questions like this can make us check back under the carpet, and bring back a deluge of emotions.
If you found this conversation interesting check out our other stories from young people in our 'stories' section.
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