I lost my brother to suicide. Here are 13 signs you must never ignore and tips to help a loved one

BEN West was just an ordinary teenager until a catastrophic event changed his life forever.

Four years ago, his 15-year-old brother Sam took his own life just five months after being diagnosed with depression.

Ben West lost his brother Sam, 15, to suicide in January 2018. It was Ben who found Sam in his room and tried to revive him


Ben West lost his brother Sam, 15, to suicide in January 2018. It was Ben who found Sam in his room and tried to revive him
The 22-year-old has now written his first book to help others who may be struggling. He is pictured above with a photo of his brother Sam


The 22-year-old has now written his first book to help others who may be struggling. He is pictured above with a photo of his brother SamPhoto credit: Oliver Dixon – The Sun

After Sam’s death, Ben, 22, of Staplehurst, Kent, and his family formed the Sam West Foundationdedicated to supporting young people suffering from their mental health.

ben, who won the Mental Health Hero Award at The Sun’s Who Cares Wins Awards in 2019, also started a petition to make mental health first aid training compulsory for teachers.

And now he has written his first book, This Book Could Save Your Life: Breaking the Silence Around the Psychiatric Emergencynow outside.

In the book touchingly dedicated to Brother Sam, ben tells his personal story of how he dealt with the shock and sadness of his brother’s death, along with practical advice for others and his call for change.

After years of campaigning and offering help through social media, Ben felt he had reached his limits of what he could convey through platforms like Instagram.

Chapters are devoted to how we can help ourselves and others.

Here, Ben shared some of his top tips on how to help others when you think they are in need.

It’s important to remember that you should always call 999 if someone is in imminent danger.


That NHS says there are 13 signs to look out for that could indicate your loved one is depressed and needs help accessing mental health services.

This includes both physical and emotional signs that someone is struggling.

These are:

  1. move or speak more slowly than usual
  2. Changes in appetite or weight (usually decreased but sometimes increased)
  3. constipation
  4. unexplained pain and discomfort
  5. lack of energy
  6. low sex drive
  7. Changes in your menstrual cycle
  8. Sleep disorders – for example, difficulty falling asleep at night or waking up very early in the morning
  9. Bad mood
  10. Not wanting to do things you enjoy
  11. be irritable
  12. withdrawal from others
  13. have suicidal thoughts


A life is lost to suicide in the UK EVERY 90 minutes

It does not discriminate and touches the lives of people in all sectors of society – from the homeless and unemployed to construction workers and doctors, to reality stars and footballers.

It is the leading cause of death for people under the age of 35, more deadly than cancer and car accidents.

And men are three times more likely to commit suicide than women.

Yet it’s rarely talked about, a taboo that threatens to continue its deadly rampage if we don’t all stop now and take notice.

That’s why The Sun launched the You’re Not Alone campaign.

The goal is that we can all do our part to save lives by providing practical advice, raising awareness and breaking down the barriers people face when talking about their mental health.

Let’s all vow to ask for help when we need it and to listen to others… You’re not alone.

If you or someone you know needs help coping with mental health issues, the following organizations offer support:


People won’t talk if nobody is willing to hear them. And while everyone acknowledges the importance of opening up, far fewer people understand the power of taking the time to just listen.

If you suspect someone is having trouble, assume you’re the only one doing it.

Contact them, text them, call them, take them out for coffee, ask them how they’re doing, give them space to talk. I know in practice this is so much easier said than done. F**k – check out my story. I knew Sam had problems and never asked him about it. Why?

There are many reasons:

  1. It’s natural to assume that things are actually “not that bad.”
  2. Nobody wants to focus on the worst-case scenario, so the default is the best-case scenario
  3. We all have our own shit to deal with
  4. We are afraid of things we don’t understand
  5. It’s easier to believe that someone else will handle it – and they will handle it better than we do
  6. It strikes a painful chord in our own lives that we don’t want to acknowledge.
  7. The conversation is daunting as hell. I mean, it’s not gonna be a laugh, is it?

My advice? Act now and think later. Sending a text message can be a great way to start that conversation.

Here are some sample messages you can send to someone you’re worried about:

  1. “Hey mate, I noticed you’re not acting yourself right now. Do you want to talk about anything?’
  2. “Roses are red, sadness sucks, I just want you to know I give shit. Lol that sounded better in my head but seriously I’m here if you need to chat.’
  3. ‘Just wanted to say I have*[whatever they’re going through]* and that’s why I know how hard it is. I hope You are fine.’
  4. “It’s totally fine if you don’t want to reply, I won’t take it personally, but I’m here if you ever want to edit something.”
  5. “I just wanted to let you know that I’m thinking of you. If you ever need someone to drop by, I’d be happy to do it.’


Here’s a text I would send my 17-year-old self: “Hey mate, I heard what happened. I’m so sorry, this must be awful for you. Really if you ever need someone to walk with, talk to or make you some tea (I’ll try to make it better than last time lol) I would absolutely love that and all, what you have to do is let me know. We are all here for you. Send lots of love x’

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  1. Don’t think about it. It’s better to send something than nothing at all.
  2. Are you asking yourself, what do I want to read or see?
  3. Don’t be afraid to be funny. If they would like a meme, send a meme.
  4. Don’t expect an answer. This isn’t about you, it’s about her. Don’t take silence personally.
  5. Send a follow-up message in a week or a month.
  6. If you’re worried about them tell them about SHOUT, a UK text based support service they can text free on 85258.
Ben's book This Book Could Save Your Life is available now


Ben’s book This Book Could Save Your Life is available nowCredit: Unknown, clear with picture desk

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https://www.thesun.ie/health/8724356/lost-brother-suicide-signs-never-ignore-tips-help/ I lost my brother to suicide. Here are 13 signs you must never ignore and tips to help a loved one

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