Content warning - the following blog discusses suicide and bereavement which may be triggering.

Simon Farmer, a Mental Health First Aider (MHFAider) and decorator for his longstanding family business, tragically lost his brother-in-law to suicide earlier this year. This World Suicide Prevention Day would have been his birthday. Here Simon shares his moving story of coming to terms with such a loss and how he has used his experiences to support others.

I am the fourth generation of our family business of decorators, which allows me the privilege of spending time in people’s homes. I now look after the decorating needs of families that have used us since my grandfather’s days at work. Over the years this has allowed me to share some life experiences with these families. I am fortunate to be someone that people feel comfortable talking to about their concerns, and I wanted to put this to good use by helping those I meet along the way. 

I do not wish to focus on my own circumstances, but I will say that I am myself currently in the mental health system and consequently understand the many struggles others face in relation to this. I am fortunate to have the most amazing GP who is never too busy to listen and support me in my journey. I am very grateful to her.  

I was fortunate that a while back, a good friend very generously facilitated my attendance on the Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) course, he heard my story and kindly paved the way. Thank you, Arthur. I learnt so much during those two days; not only did I develop my ability to help others, but I was able to take steps in my own journey. 

When I had completed the course, I was eager to help bring awareness to others and to make it known that I was someone who could be approached for support. I therefore, contacted MHFA England to ask if I was able to display their logo on my work van. They kindly agreed to this and since then I have been approached on frequent occasions by clients, people living nearby who were curious to know about the role of a MHFAider, or those who just needed to talk. 

Today marks World Suicide Prevention Day, which has personal significance to me as my ex-brother-in-law tragically completed suicide earlier this year. This came as a devastating shock to all those who were lucky enough to have known and be touched by his kindness and the warmth of his smile. Poignantly, today is also the date of his birthday. 

I have so many questions that will never be answered. I wish that we had kept in touch, not let circumstances prevent this; I am so sorry for this. There has not been a day go by since he was taken from us that I don’t see his face, or something reminds me of our shared memories. I miss you mate. 

I cannot express enough the vital importance of talking to someone if you are struggling with your mental health. If you have not seen someone in a while, or they do not seem ‘themselves’; find an appropriate time and location to ask them how they are. Arrange to go for a walk or a coffee and listen. You are not alone; mental ill health touches all our lives at some point.

I would like to say thank you to my family and friends for their love and continued support and to my dad for the understanding and support he has offered; I love you. 

I dedicate this to the memory of my ex-brother-in-law, to MHFA England for the amazing work that they do, and to my ongoing journey in mental health support; it is a true privilege.

We shouldn’t be afraid talk about suicide. Doing so helps others to open up and can prevent suicide and save lives.  

For support contact Samaritans. Samaritans is available round the clock, all year and  provides a safe place for anyone struggling to cope, whoever they are, however they feel. Please call 116 123 (UK), email, or visit to find details of the nearest branch.