My sister took her own life

Dealing with a family member who has mental health problems can be difficult, but as our anonymous contributor tell us, it's important to look out for signs that someone is hurting

True Stories

A girl with red hair looks into the distance. Half of her face is in shadows.

As Ellie grew older I noticed her growing more distant

Family life was difficult

When I was five my mum gave birth to my baby sister. I don’t really remember much, but my mum was mentally ill and my sister had to live with my auntie – having to care for a newborn was too much for my mum. Ellie never came back, as she was comfortable with my auntie, although we still visited her regularly and I even went to the same youth clubs.

As Ellie grew older I noticed her growing more distant. She didn’t like to be the centre of attention. Whenever the focus was on her she looked like she was going to burst into tears and run away. Once I was called to come collect her from school. She got an answer wrong in class and worked herself up so much that she made herself ill. I still never suspected what would happen to her.

The anxiety she had towards everyday life didn’t go unnoticed. At the age of 12 she was diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder. She refused to take medication as she was too scared the meds would turn her into ‘a zombie’. She’d seen how medication had affected my mum and didn’t want to be like that. I still never suspected what would happen to her.

I realised she was hurting

I remember one of the last times I saw her before I moved away, we went swimming. Although she tried to hide them I saw the scars on her body and I realised just how much my little sister was hurting.

A month later she rang me up crying. I could hear in the background someone screaming that she was bleeding. I begged her to go to hospital. I said I’d come and see her when I next got paid. I did. She wasn’t the same girl any more. I was losing my sister and she was only 14.

By the time she was 15, she was so isolated. She was being bullied both on and offline, to the point she couldn’t face going to school. I understood why she was hurting, but I couldn’t do anything to stop the pain.

I tried getting her help, I tried being there at night for her. I tried every single thing I could think of to save my sister. In the end, none of it worked and later on I received the news.

It hasn’t gotten easier to accept

It’s been six months since my 15 year old sister took her own life and it hasn’t gotten any easier to accept – the pain is still very raw. The memories I have of Ellie are painful to think back on and I hate to think that all those bullies won.

That’s why I am determined to honour Ellie’s legacy and help people to look for signs that someone else might be hurting. World Suicide Prevention Day is the 10th September but you can try to help someone in crisis any day of the year.

The Mix is here for young people every day 24/7. Our service is free, confidential and we’ll give you the space you need to work through what’s in your head. Get in touch today if you want to speak to our advisors or if you want telephone counselling.

If you’re reaching the point where you think there’s no other way out you can contact Samaritans, HopeLine UK or Papyrus.

Next Steps

  • Our Crisis Messenger provides free, 24/7 crisis support across the UK. If you’re aged 25 or under, you can text THEMIX to 85258
  • Papyrus supports young people who are feeling suicidal - you can call, email or text them. Call on 0800 068 41 41.
  • Anyone can contact the Samaritans on their 24-hour helpline to talk things through. 116 123
  • Marie Curie offers emotional support and practical information for anyone affected by terminal illness, and their friends and families. Call Marie Curie's helpline on 0800 090 2309 from 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday and 11am to 5pm Saturday.

  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.


Updated on 01-Jul-2016

Image courtesy of Javier Morales.