Mother praises support line for helping suicidal son

Picture: Time to change/Newscast Online

Picture: Time to change/Newscast Online

Time to change/Newscast Online

A mother who gave up work to look after her suicidal son and slept on his bedroom floor to keep him safe has praised a charity telephone line for its support.

Jackie’s 18-year-old son Adam (not their real names) started self-harming at 13 and Jackie took him to see his GP, but the pair found he was “quite old-school and reluctant to help”.

Adam, a student from Norfolk, said: “He said that I was just a kid and I was probably just doing it for attention.”

Jackie, who works in admin, added: “I knew that he needed help but we struggled to get it.”

Adam said: “I started making suicide attempts too and I was referred to child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS). I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety. I had four sessions with a family therapist but then they discharged me because they thought we were coping.

“But I was still depressed and things hadn’t got any better. I wasn’t going to school as they kept sending me home when I told them I felt like self-harming so I missed out on about a year of school altogether. My friendships suffered too as my friends didn’t know what I was going through. I felt isolated.

Jackie, 45, gave up work to look after her son. She said: “He was so hell bent on hurting himself it was scary.

“At one point, I was so concerned for his safety that I slept on his bedroom floor for a month. It wasn’t ideal but you have to do what you have to do to protect your children.

“We knew we needed more help to keep him safe. We couldn’t do it alone.”

Finally Adam was offered cognitive behavioural therapy, but he said this did not help. Nor did weekly sessions with a mental health nurse.

“I made a serious attempt on my life and mum took me straight to CAMHS,” he said. “They said that I needed to be in hospital, which I agreed with - but it took them a week to find me a bed.”

Adam spent seven weeks in hospital with access to 24-hour counselling, but when he went home sessions were only available once a week.

“That wasn’t enough as I needed to be able to talk to someone when I was feeling depressed or I felt like self-harming, not wait a week to speak to someone,” he said.

“I spoke to my mum about a lot of things but I know it was a lot for her to cope with so I started to call Childline when I was about 14. I called them and said ‘I think I need help’ and then I just broke down.

“If it was urgent and I needed to speak to someone straight away because I was angry or felt like self-harming then I would call them. They calmed me down and gave me advice on techniques to use to stop me self-harming.

“If it wasn’t for Childline I might have been sectioned or I might not even be here today.”

Jackie added: “It eased things for him and I saw his mood lift after his talks with Childline. I was proud that even when his confidence was low he was able to recognise that he needed the help and that he found the courage to call.”

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