A woman who heartbreakingly lost her brother to suicide is campaigning for greater access to support in Wiltshire.

Clare McCarthy has launched a drive for the stigma around suicide to be broken down after her brother Mark Harper took his own life.

The Trowbridge woman was speaking to this newspaper after 59 suicide deaths were registered last year - up from 55 the year before.

Clare knows first hand the effects poor mental health can have on people, and the lasting impact suicide has on someone’s family and friends.

After losing her 45-year-old brother Mark to suicide in 2011, Clare described it as being like “trying to piece together parts of a jigsaw puzzle.” 
The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Clare McCarthy lost her brother to suicide, and has been doing her best to spread positivity and prevent it from happening to others.Clare McCarthy lost her brother to suicide, and has been doing her best to spread positivity and prevent it from happening to others. (Image: Clare McCarthy)

“It did come as a shock because we never knew he could get to that place in his mind, and it’s only looking back that you put things together- it’s like trying to piece together parts of a jigsaw puzzle,” Clare said.

Discussing the problem across Wiltshire, she added: “There isn’t enough understanding around it, and there is still too much stigma around suicide.

“And there is nothing that I’m aware of that actually supports the bereaved from suicide in Wiltshire, with the nearest place being in Bristol so that is something that needs to change.”

Saturday marked World Suicide Prevention Day, but it came amid worrying statistics over the rising number of suicides in the county.

The figures only include registrations in 2021, meaning they could include deaths that occurred in 2020 but were registered the following year due to disruption to coroners' inquests caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Reacting to the rising numbers in Wiltshire, Clare added: “The big eye opener for people in Wiltshire shouldn’t just be about the number, but how it has shifted because sadly we are seeing more and more young people- especially men in their twenties affected by suicide.

Clare set up The Party for Life event which took place on September 10 at the Sky Bar, Oak Stadium, Melksham Town FC and will feature musical acts in a bid to raise awareness in a positive way for the issue, get people talking as well as raise money for the cause.

For confidential crisis support, you can contact the Samaritans 24/7 on 116 123 from any phone.