A GRIEVING grandmother who lost a teenager to suicide is marking the first anniversary of his death with a stark message for young men who are struggling with their mental health.

‘Don’t be afraid to ask for help’ is the heartfelt plea from Shelley McKitten following the death of 17-year-old Jamie on the railway on March 31 last year.

His sudden death at Chester-le-Street left family and friends bereft and there was an outpouring of grief at his funeral cortege passed through his home village of Great Lumley.

It came after a short life filled with anguish and pain, having seen his beloved mother, Kelly, beaten to death by his father when he was just four.

The Northern Echo: Kelly McKitten Kelly McKitten

The Northern Echo: Kelly with Jamie as a little boy Kelly with Jamie as a little boy

Shelley, who took him and brother Ross in after the tragedy at their home in Pelton Fell, said he never came to terms with what happened to her.

Shelley told of the devastating moment she found out what had happened to Jamie as she received the knock on the door that every parent or guardian dreads.

Shelley, 65, who is married to Joe, said: “He did not come home the night before and it was a bit strange because he had not been in touch.

“I used to say to him: ‘if you want to stay out, just text me to say what you are doing and I’ll see you in the morning’.

“If he did stay out, he was usually home early to have shower and breakfast.

“He did not come home and I waited a while. I phoned the police to say I was concerned, not knowing there had been the incident at the railway station the night before.

“Then I got the knock at the door. The Newcastle transport police came to the house and they had identified him from his fingerprints.”

Shelley said the impact of Jamie’s death is something the family will never get over.

The Northern Echo: This picture of Jamie was taken about a week before he died This picture of Jamie was taken about a week before he died

She said: “Everyone just misses him. It is heart-breaking for the family left behind. It is a never ending pain.”

Shelley said the stigma surrounding the discussion of mental health issues, especially among young men, needs to be removed.

She said: “People need to be aware that help is out there. There is an element of shame in asking for help, especially for lads, and there need not be.

“People need to be able to speak out. If they speak to someone it can really help. “The people at If U Care Share Foundation are wonderful.

"There is nothing they cannot help solve. It is just about admitting that you need help.”

Last week, some of Jamie’s friends raised over £200 for the foundation, which is also based in Great Lumley, with a memorial ‘banger’ car race at Eddie Wright Raceway in Scunthorpe.

The charity was founded by Shirley Smith in 2009 after her 19-year-old son Daniel O’Hare took his own life.

The Northern Echo: Daniel O'Hare died when he was 19Daniel O'Hare died when he was 19

It provides support around the prevention of suicide to those affected by it, and to promote positive mental health in and around the region.

On Monday, it was anniversary of Daniel’s death, and his brother, Matthew, who also help started the support service released a moving video about the ongoing work of the charity set up in his brother’s memory.

Matthew said: “As an organisation, we know all too well the impact a loss by suicide can have on a community.

"If U Care Share was founded in the village of Great Lumley after I lost my older brother, Dan to suicide.

"The reason we are now able to offer our life saving support, is because of the community that came together following the loss of Dan.

"On a personal level, I felt a similar experience again when the village lost Jamie, another popular lad in the area who unfortunately also took his own life.

"It is clear that Jamie’s legacy does and will continue to live on and encourage others to seek help when going through difficulties.”

Anyone who needs help, or who is concerned about a loved one, can find out more about If U Care Share HERE or call 0191-387-5661. There is also a free, confidential 24/7 text service. Text IUCS to 85258

Support is also available from the Samaritans on116 123.


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