BROTHERS Michael and Matthew Grimley had been close their whole lives.
They went to the same university, studied the same course and eventually went into the family business together.
But despite spending most of their time together, Michael had no idea his younger brother Matthew was hiding a secret battle with depression.
The 37-year-old, from Brigg, North Lincolnshire, was the life and soul of the party – he liked to dress well and enjoyed socialising.
But he hadn’t told anyone his marriage was falling apart, or that he was struggling with his mental health.
When Michael, who is two years older, did find out it was already too late to help him.
‘We had no idea’
He is sharing his experience on the sixth anniversary of his brother’s death to raise awareness of men’s mental health this Movember.
The chemical engineer told The Sun Online: “Matthew tried to commit suicide in October 2013, deliberately driving his car off the road at high speed.
“It was only after the accident and he approached his GP that we learned he’d been suffering from depression on and off for some years, and he’d been taking antidepressants.
Matthew never talked to his family about depression and we had no idea he’d been feeling so bad
“Matthew never talked to his family about depression and we had no idea he’d been feeling so bad.
“Having seen his GP, he told us that Matthew should not be left alone and that was severely depressed and with delusional tendancies.
“Even then we didn’t realise how serious it was and assumed that if Matthew was with friends or in company he would be fine.”
The family decided to move Matthew closer to home so they could support him, but five weeks after the crash he wrote a suicide note and disappeared.
Michael said: “I was abroad at the time and the first I knew about it was when my dad phoned me to explain what had happened.
“By that time, the police had found him and he was sectioned using police powers. He was taken to Chesterfield Hospital.”
Despite the seriousness of Matthew’s condition and despite the recommendations of the attending psychiatrist, he was released.
‘He seemed happy’
He was put in touch with and engaged with the community mental health services, but on 30 November 2013, he ended his own life.
“On the day he died, he’d played rugby, then he went out with friends. There was apparently no sign of anything unusual. He left the pub at 9 o’clock-ish, seemingly happy.
“But then he went home and hanged himself. His body was discovered in the back garden of his home the evening of the following day. Matthew was 37.
When your parents turn up at your home at 7.50am on a Monday morning wearing sombre clothes, you know something bad has happened
“Mum and dad came round to tell me he died. When your parents turn up at your home at 7.50am on a Monday morning wearing sombre clothes, you know something bad has happened. Initially I just felt numb.
“I couldn’t believe I’d lost my brother, we’d been close growing up.
“Since Matthew’s death, I’ve felt a lot of different emotions towards him, mainly sadness as I miss him, sometimes irritation and sometimes anger. I believe his death was avoidable.
The key signs your loved one is at risk of suicide
There are several warning signs that a person is at risk of suicide. But it’s vital to know that they won’t always be obvious.
While some people are quite visibly in pain and become withdrawn and depressed, others may continue their life as normal pretending everything is fine.
Look out for subtle personality changes in friends and family, especially if you know they have been going through a tough time, Lorna Fraser, of the Samaritans, told The Sun Online.
These are the key signs to watch out for:
- A change in routine, such as sleeping or eating less than normal
- Struggling to sleep, lacking energy or appearing particularly tired
- Drinking, smoking or using drugs more than usual
- Finding it hard to cope with everyday things
- Not wanting to do things they usually enjoy
- Becoming withdrawn from friends and family – not wanting to talk or be with people
- Appearing more tearful
- Appearing restless, agitated, nervous, irritable
- Putting themselves down in a serious or jokey way, for example ‘Oh, no one loves me’, or ‘I’m a waste of space’
- Losing interest in their appearance, not liking or taking care of themselves or feeling they don’t matter
“It’s a huge tragedy which has totally changed our family.
“Luckily, we are all here, and there are joys in life but from my perspective, I have lost the one person who shared my history and I expected us to have a great future with our respective families.
“He left a three-year-old son.”
Michael has worked with the Movember Foundation to raise awareness of mental illness in men and has also backed The Sun’s You’re Not Alone suicide prevention campaign in a bid to stop other young men dying like his brother.
“It’s absolutely vital that we talk about mental health,” he says.
“I thought Matthew was fine. Despite this, according to information released at the inquest, he had attempted suicide around 10 years beforehand and been hospitalised but none of us knew anything about it.
“He didn’t want to talk about how he was feeling and he hid his depression from everyone.
“Matthew would never talk about how he was feeling. His delusion was that the world would be better off without him. In this, we were terribly wrong.
“The sooner we start opening up about mental health and encouraging people to speak up about depression and suicide, the sooner we can start saving lives.
“If you are feeling like my brother was, then please seek help. You don’t have to suffer in silence.
“There is help available. Every life is worth living.”
YOU’RE NOT ALONE
Mental health 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 launched the You’re Not Alone campaign.
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.
If you, or anyone you know, needs help dealing with mental health problems, the following organisations provide support:
- If you are affected by any of the issues raised in this article, please call the Samaritans (free) on 116 123