Sam Tyler was seemingly living the perfect life – but the 14-year-old Bedworth teenager took the devastating decision to take his own life.
That day four months ago still plays over and over in the mind of his family and his heartbroken mum, Tracey is still searching for the answers why.
“Everyone wanted to be Sam,” she said.
“He was really good looking, really popular, had a beautiful girlfriend, the latest trainers, everything, honestly, he was the last person you would have thought would have done it, he was always laughing and joking.
“He had everything to live for, no one knows why he did it.”
That night she left for work as usual for a shift at the George Eliot hospital.
“When I went to work that night, as I left the house, Sam was on his headset, he was laughing and joking (with friends) when I left, three hours later he was dead,” she said.
“We all thought he was happy.”
The pain at the loss of the 14-year-old has not eased over time, in fact Tracey does not thing it ever will.
“It is the worst pain imaginable, the only way me and his dad will ever stop feeling this pain is when we die, we have got to live with this forever,” she said.
It is a pain that is not only being felt by the family.
“All of his friends are hurting, it is such a shock,” she said.
“The night he did it, he was still making plans to go fishing the following weekend. I think Covid had a big part in it, I think he felt so isolated from everyone.
“Something must have just triggered in his head because he was just literally on his headset to his friends and they were all laughing and joking in a group chat and he just said ‘Back in two secs’ and never went back online.
“Everyone is completely shell-shocked by it.”
Sam left no note giving any explanation as to his state of mind. It leaves no comfort as to what could have been done to stop him and that is the hardest part of the family’s grief.
“The worst of it is the not knowing why, what I could have done to have stopped it,” the shattered mum said.
“That’s the thing, when your child dies through something like this, you feel like a failure, I just think ‘What did I miss? I must have missed something’,” she said.
“You question everything, you are scared about your other children, have I done something wrong? Are they going to do it too?
“You don’t know why, ‘did I do something?’ you ask everything. It is logical, there has got to be a reason why, but without knowing definitely what the problem was – you feel so many emotions ,you feel guilt, you feel sad, you feel everything.”
‘If I could just save one life’
Tracey is now trying to do the unimaginable – to bring about something, anything, positive from her loss.
The health care worker is urging parents to sit and have an awkward conversation with their child – to simply check they are ok.
“No parent wants to talk to their kids and say ‘do you feel like killing yourself’- it is like a taboo subject,” she explained.
“But I just want to urge people to ask them, it is a five minute conversation that could probably save their life if they are feeling that way.
“You don’t want to put something in their head like that. You just avoid the subject, you don’t like to think about your child dying either but that’s what I want to make people think about.
“If everyone just took a minute to check on their child’s mental health, then maybe we could save a few lives.”
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“I just want to it to stop, I don’t want another family to be devastated. I don’t want another mother to feel the way I do.
“Sam hadn’t even lived to know that he didn’t want to be here anymore, with adult suicide at least they have had a life, with a child, how does that even enter into their brain?
“I think if Sam was grumpy we would put it down to him being a teenager, you kind of brush it off, maybe there is more going on and I want people to check with their children.”
She went on: “I wish I could have asked Sam, I believe he would have told me but I don’t think he would have been forthcoming with the information as kids don’t want to upset their parents do they?
As well as parents taking action, she wants schools to be involved too.
Nicholas Chamberlaine School, where Sam was a pupil, has provided counselling for his friends.
But Tracey wants mental health to feature on the curriculum.
“I would love there to be some sort of mental health awareness education in the curriculum, that is what it needs,” said Tracey, who has two other sons.
“Surely we have to address it at school level. This is just too much of this going on. Next to where Sam is buried are two other young lads, we have to do something.
“You speak to someone, pretty much, they know someone who has committed suicide. It is crazy that in this day and age that that is the biggest killer in men.
“Please, ask the difficult question, a five minute conversation could save your kid’s life, just one conversation, that’s all it might take.”
She concluded: “If Sam’s death can save another child, if I can stop another mother from feeling like this, it may help.”
Samaritans (116 123) operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year. If you prefer to write down how you’re feeling, or if you’re worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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