Mandy and her and Chris’ son J have raised a lot of money and awareness regarding military suicide and the impact it has on those left behind. J won a Soldering On award in 2019 at the age of 11because : Through his grief, young Jamie saw the value in helping others overcome theirs. Jamie also took part in a campaign by the Army, whereby a video was produced, to aid suicide prevention and to encourage people in the Armed Forces to reach out for help.

One important message that comes across in Chris’ story is the devastating effect his mh had on the family, and Mandy is not the only bereaved family member who had to make a stark choice between staying with their loved one, even though they loved them dearly, and protecting their child; in sometimes a very chaotic and dangerous situation. This has led to some people judging wives and partners for that decision, maybe using it as a way of saying they did not love their partners, that they have no right to grieve or that they failed them and these judgments have lasting effects on the mh of those left behind. This stigma and judgement is not helpful and is actually very damaging in highlighting the prevention aspects of suicide.

In some ways families are ‘damned if they do and damned if they don’t’, They are accused of putting their partner’s needs and Mh above their child’s, then they are judged for putting their child’s needs above their partners. This guilt stays with the partner’s, it infects their every thought, so when someone else says it, showing their total lack of understanding and empathy, this only reinforces the families guilt. Sometimes, living with someone with severe, untreated PTSD can be a dangerous situation. To live with someone in a mh crisis is very hard and sometimes stark, hard choices need to be made. This is not the families responsibility and is not the families failure.

 

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