A MUM has shared the devastation and heartbreak left by her teenage son’s suicide in the hope that her story can help others.

Dom Sowa was just 17-years-old when he took his own life.

And his mum Pat is speaking out during Mental Health Awareness Week in a bid to prevent such tragedies happening to other families.

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Shockingly, a life is lost through suicide every two hours in the UK - and in the last 12 months in North Yorkshire and York alone, there have been 28,104 recorded incidents where mental health has been a factor.

That’s an average of 2,342 per month or an average of 6.4 every day.

Harrogate mum Pat sadly knows the heartbreak behind those figures and says she has agonisingly ‘raked over’ the moments before her son’s death to try to understand why he did what he did.

She said: “Flicking through the summer holiday snaps, I can still feel the heat of the sun but that’s not what I am looking for.

“I am seeking the clues in Dom’s face.

“In the harsh glare of hindsight, I wonder how I could possibly have missed the signs, but I did.

“I am, or I should say, I was, a natural optimist with an ‘it’ll all come out in the wash’ approach to life.

“I simply had no conscious thought that Dom could be suicidal.

“Nine weeks after those photos were taken, I was to find out how wrong I was.”

Dom was 17 when he died and had just started Year 13 with plans to study English at university.

He had endured some difficult times; losing three beloved grandparents in quick succession and enduring bullying when he came out as gay.

Dom also had a difficult early teenage phase when he struggled to find friends and Pat feels they were some of the factors that may have affected how lonely and isolated he felt.

Pat said: “By the time he died Dom had a fantastic group of kind and loyal friends around him.

“They spent a lot of time together: laughter, fun and friendship.

“We are still in touch, and we look out for each other as well as sharing memories of happy times.

“Dom hid how he was feeling from them not wanting to bring down the mood.

“When I asked how he was he would reply ‘I’ll tell you if I need you’ and get cross if I raised any worries about him ‘I’m alright Mum’.

“Like me and my family, Dom’s friends have learnt to ask directly if someone is having thoughts of suicide and to share their own ups and downs to keep safe.”

Before his death, Dom had been hospitalised due to a suicide attempt and Pat said she mistakenly thought it had ‘lanced a boil’ and he would go on to get the support he needed to recover.

She said: “When Dom left hospital after surviving a first suicidal crisis, I knew nothing about the subject and was also in shock.

“In my mind, he had survived and would now get all the expert help he needed to overcome the depression and social anxiety that was crippling his life.

“I thought the suicide attempt had ‘lanced a boil’ and had no idea that a previous attempt increases the risk of suicide.

“Research shows a heightened risk for at least six months after an attempt.

“I feel hopelessly naive to admit this, but it might save someone else.

“Now I spend a lot of time talking about the brilliant Suicide Prevention training and charities that are out there to help if only we all knew about them.”

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Pat said she has ‘total admiration and respect’ for the emergency services who helped look for Dom when we went missing and has kept in touch with the RNLI crew involved.

She added: “Dom was such a bright and fun-loving child.

“He wasn’t a saint, but he was loved and loved us. I know that from reading his last message to me.

He deserved to be alive. He was ill, but the treatment just wasn’t good enough.”

She added: “We just have to overcome the fear and stigma of asking directly.

“We all deserve to be here, living this one incredible life.

“It’s too late for Dom so we have to save the next one.”

To find local mental health support services visit hubofhope.co.uk 

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