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Parents of a man who took his own life speak out

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THE parents of a man who took his own life as a result of dire financial difficulties are today sharing the story of their ‘proud’ son in the hope that nobody else has to experience what they have gone through.

Chris Thompson, picture supplied by family (23311286)

They spoke out after the coroner in his inquest took the unprecedented step of also urging others to seek help.

Thirty-year-old Christopher Thompson was found dead in the grounds of his flat in April this year.

An inquest last month concluded that his deepening financial crisis was a factor in his suicide. It found that, after paying his bills, he had just £18.03 to spend on food each month. He was so impoverished on the day he died that he had gone fishing just to have something to eat.

Paul and Angela Thompson, who live in Andover in England, describe their son as the sort of person who would be the first to help others in trouble, but whose own pride prevented him seeking the assistance he desperately needed.

Mr Thompson said: ‘How many others are really struggling? How many young people don’t know where to turn to and to seek help. Chris was a proud man and very opinionated, yet he was the first to help any of his friends who were in trouble. If any family needed anything he was the first one there.’

‘But him being so proud might have been a barrier in seeking help. We saw him a couple of days before and we didn’t get he full picture. I’d encourage anyone to go to one of the charities and speak to people. Speaking makes all the difference.’

Christopher’s mother has found recent months very difficult, even more so as what would have been his 31st birthday on 17 December approaches.

Mrs Thompson said: ‘He always came over as a happy, smiley, jokey person. What’s behind all that? People don’t always know. We feel guilty that we didn’t know what turmoil was going on.’

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The relief coroner, Advocate Cyril Whelan, has also spoken out following the inquest into Christopher’s death.

Advocate Whelan said: ‘I allow myself to observe that one hears of statistics to show that suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK, more than car accidents and more than serious illness. Financial difficulties are said often to feature in the blame for that.

‘Christopher Thompson’s feelings about his own finances have been heard in evidence. In these circumstances it is right for me to refer to the work done by Samaritans in Jersey and in the present context particularly the work done by Citizens Advice Jersey, especially in the area of managing personal finances and budgeting.’

Advocate Whelan added in his statement: ‘There is no shame in seeking help and I really encourage those who feel overwhelmed by this sort of problem do so. It is what those organisations are there for. They are anxious to provide help.’

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Citizens Advice Jersey see people with financial worries throughout the year, but say increased spending pressures and an inability to cope with unexpected extra costs at Christmas make this time of year particularly difficult for some.

Malcolm Ferey, the charity's chief executive, said: ‘We see people who are struggling with debt for whatever reason, and while there’s a misconception that people have been frivolous with spending, the reality is that most people whose finances have collapsed is because there’s been a change in their circumstances, including a loss of partner, a separation, or down to bad luck and being made unemployed.’

He said some of the people they helped were in terrible, sometimes suicidal, situations.

‘There are people in desperate plights. The case of Christopher Thompson highlights this. It highlights that people should not feel alone and isolated. Nothing is beyond repair.’

Citizens Advice Jersey is available online at www.cab.org.je or by calling 724942. The Samaritans can be contacted by calling 116123.

Gary Burgess

By Gary Burgess
Reporter

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