‘I’m at peace with never knowing the answers’ - mum speaks of support after brother’s death

Katie Forgiel and her brother James Halcrow, who went to Copleston High School in Ipswich and worked

Katie Forgiel and her brother James Halcrow, who went to Copleston High School in Ipswich and worked as a doctor Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: CONTRIBUTED

A mum-of-two has spoken of coping with “unanswered questions” and feelings of “guilt” after her only sibling took their own life.

Katie Forgiel, her children Eliza (8) and Polly (6) (who were 4 and 1 when James died) and her husba

Katie Forgiel, her children Eliza (8) and Polly (6) (who were 4 and 1 when James died) and her husband Laurence Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: CONTRIBUTED

Katie Forgiel, 36, from just outside Woodbridge, lost her brother James Halcrow, 34, in 2015, seven years after the death of her mother in a car accident.

According to the Samaritans charity, there were 6,507 suicides in the UK in 2018, with the highest suicide rate among men aged 45-49.

Mrs Forgiel spoke of the complex feelings of shock, grief, pain and guilt following the death of her brother, who was a doctor in Manchester but grew up in Ipswich, and how she needed to speak to people who would understand.

After searching for support groups online, she came across Hope after Suicide Loss (HOPE), which is led by Suzy Clifford.

HOPE's first 'meet and greet' event gave survivors from Ipswich,Bury St Edmunds and Lowestoft the op

HOPE's first 'meet and greet' event gave survivors from Ipswich,Bury St Edmunds and Lowestoft the opportunity to talk face to face with HOPE's chairman Ken Donaldson, directors Gary Page, Revd Canon Copsey and Vicki Chapman. Pictured in the Lounge cafe in Bury Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: CONTRIBUTED

HOPE, which has groups in Ipswich, Lowestoft and Bury St Edmunds, believes a "clear distinction needs to be made between support offered for suicide loss that is recognised as a psychological trauma and support given to an uncomplicated grief".

Mrs Forgiel said: "It [James' death] was completely out of the blue. He was really enjoying his job. Everything was really good. With suicide you just have all these questions, you have the guilt - could you have done more?

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"It's not understanding how they reached that decision. Thanks to the group, I'm at a point where I have found peace with never knowing the answers to these questions."

Mrs Forgiel, whose children are now aged eight and six, said she found it "comforting" to be with people who had been through a similar loss, and now four years down the line she is able to offer support to others.

"I can offer hope," she added.

The mum, who is a wellbeing governor at her girls' school in Eyke, said it was vitally important to be "kind to yourself".

"There were struggles, but I have got a supportive husband and I found just going to the group and talking and giving myself the time to just cry or relax or chill out [helped].

"I have got some very close friends who live in Woodbridge and they were just fantastic."

HOPE, which launched in February this year, held its first 'meet and greet' on October 16 at the Lounge cafe in Bury, which gave survivors the opportunity to talk face-to-face with HOPE's chairman and directors, with a wealth of experience between them.

Mrs Clifford said the group offers non-judgemental, open-ended support and is peer-led, so she herself is a "suicide survivor".

"We would like to think we bring HOPE, just as the name says."

-For more information about HOPE see here or email Mrs Clifford.

-The Samaritans are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Call 116 123 for free.

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