Cleveleys mum whose son took his own life sets up support group for families devastated by suicide

James and mum Joanne during happier times
James and mum Joanne during happier times
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The mum of a teenage boy who took his own life has started up her own support group for people whose lives have been devastated by suicide.

Joanne Doherty’s 16-year-old son, James, hung himself in Tower Woods in Cleveleys in August 2016.

The former Hodgson Academy pupil had just passed his GCSEs and was working part-time as a lifeguard when he died.

Now Joanne, 48, from Cleveleys, has set up a bereavement group in the name of the charity she founded in his name - Doherty’s Destiny.

She said: “People shouldn’t be left to live like I was, with nobody. When I was in desperate need, I didn’t know where to go.

“I had never seen a dead body before, and I had to go and identify my son, which had a lasting effect on me. I had to organise a funeral.

“Those first 12 months you’re in between, because you don’t know what’s going to happen in the inquest. It’s a battle to get up when you have lost a child to suicide.

“I have a few friends now that have all lost children through suicide, and we have all kept together from that. This is definitely needed.

“I hope this group will give hope to people who have lost people through suicide, and reassure them that they are not alone.

“If you are dying of a disease you get a care package that stays with your family even after you die. But if there’s a suicide, the family gets nothing. There’s no support for us.

“It could be something as simple as wanting to know what an inquest is, or what to do next.”

“In 1961 suicide was decriminalised, but I don’t think much has changed. I think the stigma is still there. We are still using the words ‘commit’ suicide when it’s not a criminal offence. It needs to stop.”

The bereavement group will meet for the first time on June 25 at Cleveleys Library, Rossall Road, from 5pm unil 7pm. It will continue at the same time on the last Tuesday of every month.

People affected by suicide will be able to meet with like-minded folks for information, understanding and support. A counsellor will also be on hand from July’s meeting onwards.