In memory of Anna Mansfield, whose tragic death ensures SOS Silence of Suicide helps all those touched by suicide. Inspiration is Anna’s legacy.
Exactly 2 years ago today, when Sunday was Friday, the phone rang. Thinking we’d overslept, and fretful at the thought of possibly being late for his clients at the Hillsborough Inquests, Michael jumped out of bed and raced to pick up the handset, his apologies ready.
Picking my phone up, I glanced at the time. It was only a little after 6am. No-one was late for anything. I felt goose bumps on my neck as I waited to see who was on the end of the phone and what had prompted them to call so early.
After what seemed like an eternity of silence, I could hear Michael asking over and over what? how? when? as if in sheer disbelief. Knowing something was terribly wrong, I ventured into the lounge just as he collapsed onto the sofa, the muteness that shock brings already apparent as Michael struggled to explain that one of his daughters, Anna, had taken her own life that morning.
As he spoke, it was like a terrible, horrific, defa vu. Just 5 months earlier, on Christmas Day, a childhood friend of mine had taken his life at the age of 49 and as Michael repeated what little information he had, I recalled ringing him as he celebrated Christmas with his children, Anna included, and telling him about my friend. I’d already lost 3 other people to suicide and over the next few weeks, we both agreed, suicide was, largely, a silent serial killer we felt compelled to tackle.
Hence SOS Silence of Suicide was created and with the support of family, friends and work colleagues, our first meeting was held in Royal Leamington Spa on 31 July 2015.
Even now, almost 2 years since our first meeting, we marvel at how much strength was gained from the marvellous people working with us – from the film makers – Jasper Warry and Anna Christian Events, our camera crew, our live streaming unit, Anthony Cash our co-ordinator, the news agency Reuters, Leamington Assembly Rooms (the venue) and our other contributors including (Judge) Rob Rinder, Ruby Wax, Helen Lederer and many, many others. Without the help of everyone who participated, Michael and I could not possibly have cemented and delivered the SOS model, arranged and recorded our film and certainly not have held our first meeting all within 3 months of Anna’s suicide.
Michael freely admits that SOS has become part of his grieving process. It allows, and ensures, that he does exactly as we encourage attendees to do – communicate, share their feelings and thoughts. Our aim on day 1 still stands strong and is reflected in our tag line – ‘It’s time to stop the silence’.
Anna’s mother Melian, who also attended our very first SOS event and spoke so bravely and honestly, recently did an interview with the Telegraph. This was a truly beautiful article to read and can be found by clicking here
2 year ago, Anna Mansfield, a beautiful, young mother, daughter and sister, was the inspiration behind SOS. Today, her memory lives on as SOS grows and helps more people than we ever thought possible. Through Anna, realisation of the suicide crisis provoked positive action, to help tackle the stigma and stop the silence.
What an astonishing legacy to leave
Michael wishes to thank everyone for their kind messages of support on the second anniversary of Anna’s suicide.