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Hertfordshire County Council

Your stories

The Suicide Prevention Network involves more than 20 organisations. Our vision is to make Hertfordshire a county where no-one ever gets to a point where they feel suicide is their only option.


We have been working with a range of people to share their lived experiences of suicide to raise awareness.

If you would like to share your experience in any format please email to find out more.

Please check out our help and support page if you need it.

Helen talks about a powerful journey of losing her partner to suicide, the impact this has had and how she is now working to help others.

Michelle uses colours to portray her thoughts in this thought provoking poem about happiness.

Alex shares the value of opening up and being honest about how she is feeling on her recovery journey.

Michelle talks about her inspirational recovery journey from feeling suicidal to now having a family and a new passion for life.

Amandip Sidhu founder of Doctors in Distress talks about compassionate work cultures for the "This Can Happen" conference.

Michelle uses artwork to keep herself well and creates paintings that remind us of our childhood dreams, where anything was possible.

Helen's story


Colours by Michelle Karpus

I will not paint with blue
For that is the colour of cold
I will not paint with red
For that is the colour of blood
But I will paint with purple,
Like flowers blooming in spring.

Over there is black,
And beside it is Mr White
These colours are not useful to think in,
But put them together with a swirl in the middle,
And you get Ying and Yang,
A symbol of life.

I will not paint with grey,
For that is the colour of chains,
I will not paint with brown,
For that is the colour of loneliness,
I will paint pink for the peaceful sunset,
And yellow for the shining sun,
And green for the long green grass,
On which I sat and painted happiness.


Alex's story

Hi, my name is Alex.

A few years ago, my mental health took turn for the worst. Despite being medicated and out of therapy, I was not happy. Every day I’d go through the motions of waking up, breaking down and then doing whatever I had to do that day, be it work or otherwise.

Everything blurred together and I experienced life from a distance with a painful weight in my chest. It could have been very easy to cave into those feelings and end my life. I still remember a time where I was waiting for my friends to arrive for two hours near a busy road, the urge had never been so strong then. Thankfully, I did not act upon it.

That doesn’t mean the feelings went away, it was a constant battle, it gets to a point where your brain is convinced nobody would care, but that is not the case! Depression is a very good liar and is not to be trusted.

The biggest problem I had was not opening up about how I was feeling, I’d downplay it far too often which only got me more wrapped up inside my own head.

I am happy to say things have not gotten as low since then, as I am far more open about my struggles, I am still medicated (on something different) and have been in and out of various therapies and am doing much better! I think of all the things I have done since that time in my life, I’ve had so many wonderful experiences, made new friends, had new relationships, gained new interests. The list is endless and full of things I would never had experienced if I hadn’t lived through it.

I cannot stress how beneficial opening up and being honest about how I was feeling has been. It is also great for creating a support network, people (co-workers/ friends/ family) cannot offer their support if they do not know there is a problem.

I am now able to go to a number of people who are willing to offer their assistance if needed.


Michelle's story

Suicide – a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

But it’s not always as simple like that. And it is definitely too hard to think about so logically when you are caught up in the moment. In the moment it seems like the most productive way to stop your pain and torment.

I did not have the easiest childhood. My mother had a nervous breakdown after my sister was born, she had nobody else to support her, and so I looked after her from the age of two. She told me all of her problems, which then became my problems. She did not see me as a separate person, and consequently I did not know who I was.

I started to recover slightly when I made a strong friendship with someone called Emma that meant I was not alone. She was so supportive and looked after me, almost as a replacement mother. I had eventually found a love of some sorts, but when Emma was seventeen, she suddenly died of unknown causes, and I think this was the beginning of my downfall.

The following year I went to study English at University. I knew I was unhappy, but I did not know why. I sat down for endless hours wishing so much that I could be dead to escape this unbearable pain that I did not understand. I busied myself with going out, taking minor drugs and doing anything possible to escape. It did not work and eventually I did take try to take my own life.

Quite often after I had attempted to take my own life and the adrenaline had kicked in, I was filled with fear. There was one question that kept playing around my mind; what is going to happen to me now? Five minutes ago, I was desperate to die, but now do I still want to? I would become petrified that it would be a long and painful death when I wanted it quick. I often felt confused and did not know whether I really wanted to die that badly or not.

There were also times I was so angry with someone or something, my only reaction was to take out all this hurt and anger on myself. I hated myself and my feelings so much, that I just had to escape. But after going through years of trying to take my own life and going in and out of psychiatric wards, something happened. I was in a tearoom one morning after trying to take my own life, wondering if I had damaged myself or not. I convinced myself that I did not care, but then I saw a child. I cannot remember specifically what the child was doing, but I remember thinking that if I wanted to have children one day, I could not die. Nonetheless, at the time I was in a very volatile relationship with a man and it felt that a life involving children was never a possibility.

At one point, nobody was willing to give me any therapy. I was referred a few times, but I kept getting told I was “too severe.” But just as I was about to reach true desperation, Andrew Nicholls from HPFT NHS stepped in to do CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). He did explain to me that it was only going to touch the surface and that I really needed DBT (Dialectic Behavioural Therapy), but as DBT services had not yet started he was going to do CBT to try and levitate some of the symptoms. I cannot remember if the CBT itself helped, but what it did give me was hope knowing someone cared enough to try. He was patient and calm and made me feel safer in a world that to me was full of danger.

When I was on psychiatric wards, it was often the HCAs who had more time. It made such a difference just to be given some cereal that I particularly liked, or to find me a bath plug. I also joined Mind in Mid Herts and I was lucky enough to meet Catherine, who was so generous it gave me hope in human nature when times were low. I have made some good friends and it is these people who make a difference and give me that courage to fight my suicidal urges.

I do not know if professionals know as to what extent they can have an impact on service users. Unfortunately, I have come across many people who worsen the situation. After speaking to lots of people, I now realise I am not the only one to experience these cruel reactions. Every time someone who is suffering to such extremes is told that they are being “manipulative,” or “throwing their toys out the pram,” then an invisible bruise grows inside. I can fully appreciate that people with my diagnosis are exceptionally challenging to work with, but we don’t mean to be. When you get so desperate you feel like there is no choice, so often what appears to be manipulative is really disguising utter hopelessness.

There was one major turning point for me. My liver was failing and I was constantly trialling new medication to improve my mood with the doctor. I began to feel very unwell. I was nauseous all the time, but my doctor kept telling me it was a result of the new medication and suicide attempts. I grew tired, and despite not eating much due to the nausea I was still putting on weight. But each time I spoke to the doctor I was told it was just side effects, until I asked her if I was pregnant. My doctor said I definitely was not pregnant, but she would do a test to put my mind at ease. Well, it turned out that the contraception this doctor had put me on clashed with my anti-depressants, and I was in fact nearly three months pregnant.

I found that out in June 2010, and since then I have had many ups and downs but I have not tried to take my own life since learning that there was a baby inside me. I broke up with my volatile boyfriend and started a new life. I also met someone in 2012 had my son. But from that first moment I found out I was expecting a baby, it gave me a whole new meaning and purpose and she saved me. I gave her life, and she saved my life. I would not be here now if I had not been pregnant at that time. I gave birth to my daughter, who is now nine years old, and she is too young to understand any of this but one day I will tell her that it was her who saved me.


Doctors in Distress


Rosie and Vanilla

Dog and rabbit painting