A grieving mum who found her son hanged in his bedroom has set up a group for bereaved loved ones after finding there was nowhere to turn for support in her time of need.
Steven Coleman lived with Asperger syndrome, ADHD, communication problems and emotional and behavioural difficulties and had been suffering with suicidal thoughts since the age of 16.
He took his own life at 21, following several previous suicide attempts.
Mum Heather Cox, 47, who visited her son at his flat in Rose Street, Northfleet, every day, says not only was her son let down by the health profession but her family received no help in dealing with his death.
Describing the moment she discovered his body, on January 22, 2015, she said: “I found him. I took my friend to the flat with me because I couldn’t get hold of him, which I thought was strange.
“I pushed the bedroom door open and saw him. We rang the ambulance and tried first aid but it was too late.
“I’m not afraid to admit it but I ran, I had to get away from there. My partner rang me and spoke to me and then my friend came and got me."
She continued: “Steven had been sectioned for the first time ever in December, 2014, for about six weeks.
"They let him out without any help and with a big bag of anti-depressants. He called me to tell me he was out. He wanted his independence and he had his own flat. He had trouble communicating with people. He used to get frustrated with himself.
“He was suicidal from the age of 16. He took an overdose and was taken to Darent Valley Hospital. He saw the crisis team but they just sent him home. He had one visit but there was no follow up at all. He must have tried to take his own life about eight to 10 times.
“I tried to get help from mental health services, from his GP. There wasn’t any help whatsoever, I have no idea why. Help for people with mental health is absolutely terrible.”
But it wasn’t only her son’s mental health being neglected.
Miss Cox said she, her partner Nicholas Dyke and their daughter Katie, who was 11 at the time, were given no help.
She said: “If your child is a murder victim you get a family liaison officer but we got nothing. It’s one of the worst things that can happen, finding your child like that.
“My dad died shortly after Steven did – they were best friends and dad, who was 82, sort of gave up. My brother-in-law died two weeks after Steven.
“There was nothing out there I could go to, I couldn’t find any groups, so I had to make my own one up. It was the best thing I’ve ever did.”
The group, which meets once a month, has just celebrated its one year anniversary.
Miss Cox said: “It’s helped me realise I’m not on my own, there are other people going through bereavement out there. I know it’s helped people in the group too. A few years down the line I would like to do something so families can get help – counselling or anything. It also gives me a purpose, doing it every month. I like to think Steven is proud of me and Katie.”
Bereavement Coffee Mornings are held in Asda’s community meeting room inside the store in Thames Way, Northfleet, on the first Friday of the month. In October and November they will run from 1pm to 2.30pm.
In December and throughout 2018 they will return to their normal time of 10am to midday. Everyone is welcome – just turn up.