A GRIEVING mum who lost her son to suicide hopes to prevent other families going through the same heartbreak.

Alison Oglanby’s family was devastated when Garry-Jack Nicholson took his own life in September last year.

And the Maryport mum is now desperate to ensure other families do not suffer in the same way and is taking steps to raise awareness.

“Garry-Jack was a much loved only child. He was loved by everyone who knew him,” said Alison.

“He was always polite and had good manners. He would do anything to help others. He is missed by so many people.

“Losing a child at any age is heartbreaking and soul destroying, and this is driving my passion now is to help others suffering with mental health issues.

“This is an illness and needs to be dealt with differently and more support is needed to end the stigma around it.”

Garry-Jack suffered from anxiety for a few years but decided a fresh outlook might do him good, and in 2014 he went to Australia, initially travelling.

But he enjoyed it so much that he stayed and worked there, his commitment to learning new skills being rewarded with a sponsorship from Max Build, a well-known construction firm.

He still struggled with low moods but continued his work, before returning home at the beginning of 2018.

Alison explained: “He continued to struggle with his mental health and anxiety and tried to get help but unfortunately there is a gap in the services provided and he fell through this gap and didn’t get the help he needed soon enough.

“He thought there was no other way out of his personal struggles and how he was feeling on a daily basis. He felt the only way out for peace was suicide and

this led to him taking his life last September.”

As well as coping with her grief, Alison is determined that other families do not suffer and she wants to bridge the gap in the services, that her son fell through.

She added: “Since losing Garry–Jack, along with my friend Hazel who lost her son Thomas Cameron to suicide at the beginning of the year we have been driven to make changes within the services out there,” said Alison.

“We want to promote the helplines that are available and try and build the bridge to fill the gap in the help and support that is already there.

“We need to raise awareness that it’s good to talk, by breaking down the stigma attached to suicide and mental health to make it easier for people to open up about their problems.

“We aim to educate and provide information around mental health and signpost people to the help they need.”

Working with other mental health specialists, including Katherine McGleenan, suicide prevention lead within the Community Mental Health Team, and Chris Woods from Every Life Matters, they are looking to highlight issues.

In conjunction with Paul Williamson, at Workington’s Firpress print firm, they have made concertina cards with helpline numbers, beer mats and posters.

They have also had pens, fridge magnets and keyrings designed to promote the SHOUT txt service, you text SHOUT to 85258 and someone is available 24/7 to text you back.

“Cumbria has one of the highest suicide rates in the UK. On average one person a week takes their own life in the county,” added Alison.

“The latest figures released by Public Health England reveal between 2015 and 2017, the suicide rate in Cumbria was 12.1 per 100,000 population, compared to the national rate of 9.6 per 100,000.

“With so many suffering with mental health and suicidal thoughts the NHS is struggling to deal with the caseloads both financially and the lack of professionals they are struggling to recruit.

“We are working closely with Katherine McGleenan and Chris Woods and are aiming to hold regular meetings with other agencies out there to build a better support network in Allerdale, Copeland and Barrow to try to help save others from experiencing the pain and heartache that we have been left behind with.

“Losing a loved one to suicide affects everyone who loved and cared for them parents, grandparents, other family members, friends and colleagues.

“They feel so helpless and question if they could have done anything differently, never really finding the answers they are looking for which often leads to those people suffering with their mental health.”

This weekend, on what would have been Garry-Jack’s 30th birthday, there are two fundraising nights planned.

Tonight at Maryport’s Labour Club there are several bands on from 7pm, with tickets at £5 and tomorrow, at the same venue, there is another fundraiser.

Former Workington Town coach Phil Veivers will be there to speak about State of Mind, the rugby league mental health charity, and there will be entertainment and a sports auction, with fraed shirts from Town, Whitehaven and Barrow, plus a signed Ben Stokes cricket ball and a signed Manly shirt and Shaun Lunt’s testimonial top among the items.

All money raised will be split between State of Mind and the charity set up in memory of the two Maryport boys, gazjackandsmiler #asmilehidesathousandthoughts