Leeds woman devastated by brother's suicide urges men not to suffer in silence

Sarah Bentley pictured with her brother Kieran.
Sarah Bentley pictured with her brother Kieran.
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THE sister of a 'kind and gentle' 36-year-old man who took his own life is urging other men who may be suffering in silence to reach out for help.

Sarah Bentley, of Moortown, Leeds, said her brother Kieran suffered from depression and struggled to talk about how he was feeling.

Kieran Bentley

Kieran Bentley

Her family was left devastated when Kieran took his own life on September 30 2016.

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She is set to take part in the Nidderdale Sprint Triathlon in Pateley Bridge on Saturday (Sept 14) to raise money for mental health charity Andys man Club.

Ms Bentley, 37, spoke out following World Suicide Prevention Day on Tuesday (Sept 10).

Sarah Bentley pictured with her brother Kieran

Sarah Bentley pictured with her brother Kieran

She is urging men who may be experiencing mental health problems to talk to someone.

Ms Bentley said: "You are not weak for reaching out and you are not weak for suffering and struggling.

"It is a sign of strength to reach out and get the help you need and to say that things are not right.

"There is support out there and there are ways to talk about it. Just tell somebody, reach out and say you are struggling . You don't have to be on your own."

Kieran Bentley

Kieran Bentley

Ms Bentley said Kieran, who previously worked as a business analyst for the Stroke Association, was living in Derby when he died.

He was planning on a career change and had started an occupational therapy course, but decided it wasn't for him and quit the course.

Ms Bentley said: "He was really passionate about the environment and volunteered for Greenpeace.

"He volunteered for mental health charity Samaritans. Ironically, he spent time on the other end of the phone helping people who are struggling,.

Kieran Bentley

Kieran Bentley

"He wasn't doing that at the time of his death, but he had done it in the past."

Ms Bentley said: "He was a very quiet, gentle soul. He was mild mannered and kind and had a good sense of humour.

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"He struggled with his self esteem and with with depression to varying degrees throughout his adult life.

"Men find it difficult to talk about what is going on in their lives. I think he struggled to open up about what was on his mind.

Ms Bentley said it was "completely devastating" when she discovered what had happened.

She said: "You go through a period of shock that lasts quite a long time. You are on autopilot and go through the motions.

"After the funeral everyone goes back to their normal lives. For me it didn't start to really sink in until about a year afterwards.

"You go through so much anger and such a varying range of emotions. There are so many whys and what ifs.

"Illness by any other name is freely discussed without prejudice or fear. Kieran was a lovely human being whom we were all blessed to know.

"I want to do what I can to help prevent others taking their lives and other families and friends going through this loss."

Ms Bentley said she found out about Andy's Man Club soon after her brother's death and went to one of their meetings.

She said: "Andy’s Man club is doing vital, grassroots work in bringing men together to normalise talking and sharing their lives and struggles.

"I just thought it was really spot on and really practical and so helpful what they are doing."

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Andys Man Club was launched in Halifax in July 2016 by former professional rugby league player Luke Ambler following the suicide of his 23-year-old brother-in-law Andy Roberts .

The club holds peer to peer support groups at 20 locations across the country including nine in Yorkshire and helped 10,700 men last year.

At the groups men sit and talk to each other in a confidential environment.

Andy Greenway, project development worker for Andys man Club, said: "We are grateful for the fundraising and for the awareness raising.

"The more guys that are aware of Andys man Club means that more guys can take positive steps in their lives and come in through our doors."

Leeds City Council released its latest report on suicides in the city on Tuesday, which revealed that that five times more men than women took their own lives in the city for the second three-year period in a row.

Of the 205 Leeds residents who took their own lives between 2014 and 2016, a total of 171 (83 per cent) were male, compared to 34 female - according to the report released on World Suicide Prevention Day.

The overall number of suicides by Leeds residents was down from the 213 recorded in the three-year period from 2011 to 2013.

A total of 176 (83 per cent) were male, compared to 37 female during that period.

To sponsor Miss Bentley as she raises money for Andy's Man Club in this weekend's Nidderdale Sprint Triathlon, go to www.gofundme.com/f/suicide-prevention-andys-man-club

Anyone wanting advice can contact:

Samaritans: 08457 90 90 90

Leeds Suicide Bereavement Service: 0113 260 9328.

Andy's Man Club at www.andysmanclub.co.uk

Details of many services which can help are on a free poster available to download at www.leeds.gov.uk/docs/CrisisCard.pdf