Mum’s quest to help others after tragic loss of her son

Joanne Towers from Warton is taking part in a walk to raise awareness of young suicides in memory of her son Michael who committed suicide last year. Pictured is Joanne at her home in Warton with a book of Michael's memories created for her by Michael's friends.
Joanne Towers from Warton is taking part in a walk to raise awareness of young suicides in memory of her son Michael who committed suicide last year. Pictured is Joanne at her home in Warton with a book of Michael's memories created for her by Michael's friends.

Michael Towers was a young man with his whole life ahead of him.

At 23, he was working as a trainee chartered accountant and had a loving family and girlfriend of four years.

Michael pictured at Alcatraz during his US holiday with three friends.

Michael pictured at Alcatraz during his US holiday with three friends.

He had just returned home from the holiday of a lifetime in America.

But Michael suddenly and tragically took his own life on May 19 last year, devastating his parents Joanne and Chris, older brother David and girlfriend Lindsey.

Now, almost 18 months on, Michael’s family is hoping to do something positive in a bid to to help others in a similar position.

His mum Joanne, 49, said: “He was in the prime of his life.

Michael pictured (front) with his parents Chris and Joanne at his brother David's graduation.

Michael pictured (front) with his parents Chris and Joanne at his brother David's graduation.

“He was a bright young man. He got three A grades in his A-levels in accounting, psychology and business studies and was training to be a chartered accountant.

“He enjoyed going to the gym, swimming, playing football and walking.

“He was a lovely lad. He was quiet and thoughtful and very honest.”

Michael attended Carnforth North Road Primary School and then Carnforth High, before going on to Kendal College, where he studied accounting for two years.

He then took his A-levels before joining Moore & Smalley in Lancaster, completing his accountancy training before moving on to become a trainee chartered accountant.

Michael had just returned from a road trip across America with three friends which took in New York, Las Vegas and San Francisco.

But just 12 hours after he arrived at his Warton home from the holiday which he had spent a year saving up for, Michael had taken his own life.

Next weekend Michael’s family will be taking part in a 10km charity walk in support of Papyrus, a charity which supports both young people who might be considering suicide and also families bereaved through suicide.

The family heard about Papyrus after a friend of David’s took part in a charity run on their behalf.

Joanne said: “It’s the only national charity whose sole purpose is to prevent young people from taking their own lives.

“It was founded in 1997 by a group of parents who had lost a child through suicide.

“There’s a stigma attached to it. When it happened to us, I couldn’t even talk about it.

“It’s like a rollercoaster, and you have to ride it every day of your life.

“Fortunately, we are very close and we have helped each other through it as a family.

“I am a positive person and you have to move forward day by day.

“I like talking about Michael and I am now quite open with people about what’s happened, which I think helps rather than bottling it up.

“There’s nothing we could have done to prevent what happened and there’s nothing to be gained from going over it. I am not angry with him. Whatever reason he had for doing what he did died with him. You go through a lot of emotions, but I didn’t go through anger.

“I will always love my son. There is no point in being bitter.”

Joanne, Chris, David and his girlfriend Sasha and Michael’s girlfriend Lindsey will be setting off at 10am on October 10 to walk the 10km between Strawberry Gardens in Heysham and Warton.

Joanne, who works at Greenlands Farm Village, said: “The walk is something positive for me to focus on. We are not doing this for ourselves but for other people and I hope that Michael would be happy with that.

“The key for us now is to help others and to raise awareness. Hopefully we can prevent this from happening to another family.

“If there’s another person out there in that position then hopefully we can raise awareness of the help that is out there. They can just pick up a phone and talk to somebody about it.”

Joanne said she hopes the walk will go some way towards helping to keep Michael’s memory alive.

“There isn’t anything worse than a mum and dad losing their son or daughter, she said.

“You learn to live without them – you have to.

“You never forget them but you can move on.”

Anyone wishing to donate to the cause can do so at www.justgiving.com/Joanne-Towers1

Papyrus – Prevention of Young Suicide – can be found online at www.papyrus-uk.org.

A telephone line, Hopeline UK, for both young people in need of help and their families is available on 0800 068 4141.

It is open 10am to 10pm weekdays and 2pm to 10pm weekends. You can also text 07786 209 697 or email pat@papyrus-uk.org.

SUICIDE - THE FACTS

- Suicide is the main cause of death in young people under the age of 35 in the UK.

- Every year, across the UK, more than 1,600 young people under the age of 35 take their own lives.

- Between the ages of 15 and 24 the number is 600 to 800, equivalent to the population of a small secondary school.

- Three quarters of them are boys or young men.

- In England and Wales alone around 24,000 attempted suicides are made by 10 to 19 year olds – one every 20 minutes.

- Most suicides have been planned beforehand.

- 75 per cent of young suicides were unknown to mental health services.

- Many young people who take their own lives are not socially isolated; they often appear to be the life and soul of the party.

- Research shows that with appropriate early intervention and support, suicide by young people can be prevented.