CGMT News

Encouraging young people suffering in silence to ask for help

Carol and I only discovered PAPYRUS, the UK charity with the mission to prevent young suicide, after Cameron died. We have been very impressed with the work PAPYRUS do, and were pleased when they asked us to contribute an article to their Newsletter which was published on 9 March. Our story is on pages 12 and 13 of the newsletter; the full text of the article follows the picture of these pages.

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PAPYRUS member Evan Grant lost his son Cameron to suicide in 2014. He shares his story and mission to save young lives.

The evening of Friday 14 November 2014 seemed like a normal evening, a good one even. My wife Carol and I had been at our village sports club for a ‘curry and jazz’ night, Scotland had beaten Ireland in the Euro qualifiers, and we were settling in at home to watch Children in Need. The doorbell rang; I answered to find two young police officers asking if I knew Cameron Grant. Life became a bad movie. The officers politely insisted that Carol and I sat down before they would talk further. We sat in our familiar places while they stood by our fireplace. In the sterile, objective language that the police must use, they explained that a man’s body had been found, that Cameron’s wallet was with the body and that, while it wasn’t possible to be certain, there was little doubt the body was Cameron. They already knew enough to tell us that the man had taken his own life.

More than two years later, these initial moments are stark and clear, but time then passed in a blur. We found the letter Cameron left us. We learned he had suffered from depression for over seven years, and chosen to fight this on his own. The Cameron we knew was thriving in his third year studying geology at university, loved playing Ultimate Frisbee and was Treasurer for his University Ultimate Frisbee Club. He’d just received his Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Award and celebrated his 21st with us at a warm, happy family party. Nobody anywhere, even with the benefit of hindsight, had any inkling that Cameron was ill. His death was a complete and total shock.

In common with many who take their own life, Cameron felt the world would be a better place without him; that we would all be better off. In common with many who lose someone close to suicide, we found immediate and fierce determination to do something – anything – that might save other families from the same tragedy. This determination drove us forward to establish the Cameron Grant Memorial Trust with these objectives: to raise awareness of young suicide; to urge all who are suffering in silence to speak up and seek help; and to support young people who are fighting to overcome poor mental health, especially where possible through outdoor activities like hill-walking and The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award which Cameron enjoyed so much.

Our biggest project to date is ‘Cameron’s Coasters’. These are simple drink mats which carry the message ‘Don’t bottle it up …’ on one side, and contact details for organisations which can help on the other. Our first coaster (pictured), which we have placed in local pubs and clubs, has national helplines, including the details of PAPYRUS HOPELineUK. We have worked with universities and colleges to customise Cameron’s coasters so that the sources of help and support are relevant to each place they are used. We have also begun to work with schools and sixth form colleges, and with companies –  coasters work just as well with a glass of water or a cup of coffee as with any other drink.

With over 150,000 already being used in 47 universities, colleges and other communities, Cameron’s Coasters have been well received. We’ve had some very encouraging feedback, including emails from students who said they didn’t know where to go for help till they found a coaster, and from wellbeing staff who told us that young people felt more able to ask for help after seeing them: “I didn’t know I could talk to you till I read it on the coaster”. This gives us hope that we can help other families to avoid our fate. Whether with coasters, or by other means, we will continue to encourage all suffering in silence to speak up and ask for help.

The Cameron Grant Memorial Trust is always on the lookout for communities that want to use Cameron’s Coasters – if you would like some, please get in touch on info@camgrant.org.uk or via the website: www.camgrant.org.uk/events/camerons-coasters