Woman loses both sons after they took their own lives two months apart
A mother has said she is still coming to terms with the fact her sons both died within two months of each other.
Dai and James Lane, both in their 20s, took their own lives in early 2019.
The devastating loss of 23-year-old James came after he discovered the body of his older brother Dai, 28, who hours earlier had been spending a normal night with his family, reports Wales Online.
Michelle French, now 50, said the family is still coming to terms with their grief. In the last year, they have had to deal with the pain of marking Dai’s 30th birthday and James’ 25th without either one present.
The grief has had a profound affect on Michelle’s other three sons and two daughters, she said.
Michelle, from Abertillery, would now like to see further improvements to mental health services in Wales, as well as a shift in attitudes towards male suicide.
“James has been gone two years on April 20, 2019, and Dai died in February,” Michelle said
“Every day is the same thing. It just never ends. I go to bed and I see my boys in my sleep and I wake up to see my boys by the side of me.
“I can’t say that I have actually spoken to anyone about how I’m feeling because I don’t want to. I need to make sure that my kids are OK first before I sort myself out.
“Up to now I don’t think I’ve done a bad job of dealing with it. I know it has got to be addressed and I’ve got to do it but I’m just not ready yet.”
Earlier this year, an inquest heard that Michelle’s 28-year-old son, Dai, took his own life on February 7, 2019, just hours after being seen laughing and drinking with family like any other evening.
The court heard Dai’s 23-year-old younger brother James discovered Dai’s body, and was present when his mother identified him.
Coroner Caroline Saunders suggested James had been “profoundly affected” by the death of his brother and was suffering with mental illness including issues with alcohol and drug use.
On April 14, James Lane attempted to take his own life and died several days later in hospital on April 20.
“They were both so funny,” Michelle said.
“David loved his rugby. He used to play for the Abertillery team and so did James but he wasn’t as into it as David.
“They were my boys and I love them.
“If I could change places with them now then there would be no question about it. But the fact of the matter is that I can’t.”
Michelle said she always felt she had a close relationship with her children and could tell when something was bothering them.
In the lead up to Dai’s death, Michelle said she was aware that a relationship ending was causing him some problems but had no idea of the magnitude of his distress.
“I can read my children very well,” she said.
“There was no sign with David. A couple of hours before it happened he was fine. We were having a drink and he made plans actually.
“If James was having a difficult time he was very, very good at hiding it. I did beg him. I said to him please go and speak to someone, even if it’s just to get it off your chest.
“He said no mam I’m fine and two days after that he went for a job interview and he got it. James never liked to sit on his bum. He always had to be on the go.”
Following his death, Michelle said she has been brought comfort by the knowledge that James’ organs, as a registered organ donor, were transplanted to three patients.
“One person had two of his organs and another two people had one of his organs,” Michelle said.
“I have had a letter off one of the people who received James’ organs and they have told me how they are doing.
“I just wish he had thought enough of his own life to live.”
Since the loss of her sons, Michelle said she has become passionate about breaking down stigma associated with mental health issues and wants to encourage more people to speak about their difficulties.
She said she is particularly mindful of the impact the Covid pandemic has had on people’s mental and physical well-being over the past year.
“Men are just as sensitive as women and they get less thought of,” Michelle said.
“Four people in my family have died from suicide. Something really needs to change radically where mental health is concerned. It affects us all.
“It’s silent and there are people suffering, and its wrong.”