With an average of one suicide in Preston every 17 days, the question everyone wants to know is ‘why did they do it?’
Here, one dad reveals exactly what he was thinking as he was about to take his own life and what stopped him.
Now, a few months on, he has taken steps to improve his mindset, with the help of specialist gym Titan Strength Academy.
With a loving wife, three adoring children and a steady business, Andrew Forster knows he has a lot to live for.
But for a short period of time, all those things he treasured so much faded into an oblivion as he was preparing to take his own life.
He says: “Some people say suicide is selfish, especially when you have children, but that is the last thing you think about. There is a cloud, a darkness surrounding you that blocks out any thoughts about anyone else.”
Describing what led him to that moment, the 38-year-old admits he slipped into another consciousness - like he was a different person.
He explains: “We have our conscious minds, where we make our decisions, but we also have a second consciousness that we don’t have control of. It was doing stuff to me in my head that I couldn’t control.
“All of a sudden I would become anxious, thinking what would happen if I had a car crash and what would happen if I survived it.
“My eyes would become drawn and fixated on ways to take my own life.
“I didn’t want these things but it was my subconscious. As my depression progressed, I became less in control.”
As things almost came to a head one night in August, it was the sudden shock of somebody else’s pain that stopped him in his tracks.
He recalls: “A friend rang me out of the blue. It was significant as he had previously discovered our friend after he had committed suicide earlier in the year. The fact that it was him that happened to call me snapped me out of it.
“I thought ‘what have I just done?’ and I had clarity. I had gone from possessing a dark shadow to being back in my own mind and in terrified me.”
Now with a clear head, Andrew can understand where his depression came from, relating it back to suffering altitude sickness during a trek up Mount Everest.
He had completed the challenge last October to raise funds for Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, which treated his 23-month old daughter Jemima, who was born with a haemangioma benign tumour.
But Andrew had experienced bad side effects due to lack of oxygen on the climb.
He says: “I didn’t realise what happened initially. We didn’t have enough time to acclimatise as we were delayed getting to Lukla due to bad weather.
“As a result we had to catch up with the itinerary and we bombed up to base camp.
“For a lot of the people, it was fine, but a few, including me, were suffering from altitude sickness.
“It felt like flu, as I was achy, bunged up and nauseous. As we got higher, it got worse, as I was dizzy, my balance was all over the place, I was lethargic, hallucinating and really emotional.
“I soldiered through but as I got higher still, I lost my appetite and I stopped eating for six days. I lost two stones and I had a stomach bug. I was really ill and doctors monitored my oxygen levels. They had dropped to 46 per cent. They were normally 70 to 80 per cent at that particular height.
“I was desperate to stay, and I even slept with the window open to get oxygen, despite being -16 degrees outside.
“I started to feel a bit better but when I got to base camp, I was such a wreck.
“We rushed back down, which was easier and as I got back to Katmandu, I started to feel better,
“I got home and was ill for six months with pleurisy. I tried to put weight back on and I was suffering with dizzy spells and falling over. All that is part and parcel of altitude sickness.
“I started getting depressed and out of nowhere, I felt really down and overwhelmed.
“I didn’t tell anyone and I was having negative thoughts.
“I started withdrawing into myself and I wasn’t as outgoing. I wasn’t pursuing things to do with my business.
“It got really bad to the point where I became manically depressed. I had spells where I felt my whole world was collapsing and I was being overcome with this shadow and I couldn’t shake it.”
“I would go to the office late at night and not tell anyone where I was going. I was sat there in pitch black and I wanted the ground to swallow me up.
“I picked up the phone to call The Samaritans but I didn’t want to speak to anyone. So instead I found an internet chat room, where volunteers have a two hour window to chat to you and I got a lot off my chest.”
Andrew, who runs Lofty’s and The Wellington, in Preston, eventually told his wife, Naomi and she encouraged him to see his GP.
He spoke to Mind Matters who gave him advice, but he felt he needed something more.
That was when he spotted a motivational message by Titan Strength Academy on Facebook.
He reveals: “I got in touch and one of the owners, Tiarnan Carlin, invited me to come in for a one-to-one chat. I poured my heart out and he explained he had experienced similar things and how he had turned his life around.
“I signed up to its mindset course, where we discuss what we want out of life and how to set goals. They also give us books to download and read which inspire us. All this has given me so much clarity and they have helped me so much over the past three months.
“It has changed my outlook so much.
“I know a lot of people who have committed suicide and not managed to find the help they need.
“But I want to speak out to raise awareness of what this gym offers and the support it has given me. If I had not found them,I don’t think I would be here today.”
If you are feeling like everything is getting too much, there is help available.
Visit www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help/contact-samaritan/ or call the Samaritans on 116 123.