THE parents of a young man who took his own life are appealing to people to lend a listening ear to loved ones who may be a suicide risk.

James Gibbons, 33, had suffered from mental health issues for some time leading up to his death on April 29.

His father, Martin Gibbons, said he had no idea James, a popular care worker from Taunton, had intended to end his life.

Mr Gibbons said: "We had no inclination of what he was going to do.

"I want to bring it to people's attention how important it is to talk to your son or daughter or a loved one.

"He'd been to see his doctor recently and everything seemed alright. We knew he had mental health issues, but nobody was aware he had suicidal tendencies.

"The last picture of him was of him fishing with his girlfriend in Watchet. He was so happy.

"On the morning of his death, he set off to work, said goodbye to his girlfriend and her two children. Everything seemed normal."

Mr Gibbons said James, who grew up in Bishop's Hull, later took his own life in the home of someone he was caring for in Wellington. An inquest this week recorded a verdict of suicide.

"There were no signs," said Mr Gibbons. "But if you know someone on medication for mental health, you should keep an eye on them.

"Talk to them. There's evidence that talking about it can help. If they have your support, it can get them through it.

"If more people had known about James's mental health, they could have helped him. There shouldn't be a stigma attached to it."

Louise Finnis, mental health promotion manager with Somerset County Council Public Health, said: "Evidence shows that talking to someone can be a lifesaver- it shows that openly asking someone if they’re feeling suicidal can protect them – they feel listened to, and validated and this can be a huge relief.

"Somerset has an active Suicide Prevention Partnership Board which is committed to raising awareness about suicide. Suicide is a taboo subject and part of the board’s work is to tackle this.

"“It's okay if you're not an expert – just listening can help someone work through what's on their mind. Often people who are feeling suicidal don’t want to worry or burden anyone with how they’re feeling so they don’t discuss it.

“By talking to someone directly about suicide you’re giving them permission to tell you how they feel. Once that happens the chance of suicide is reduced.”

The Samaritan listening tips are a good starting point:

•Show you care – focus on the person, give good eye contact and put away your phone.

•Have patience – it may take time for the person to talk to you.

•Use open questions – so they need more than a yes/no answer. Follow up e.g. tell me more.

•Say it back – repeat back what you have heard them say, without interrupting them.

•Have Courage – don’t be put off by a negative response or feel the need to fill the silence.

•Check they know where to get help.

•Look after yourself.

If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article, contact the Samaritans. Volunteers are ordinary people who provide a safe place for people to talk. Tel 116 123 or e-mail website www.samaritans

If you're feeling like you want to die, it's important to tell someone.

Help and support is available right now if you need it. You don't have to struggle with difficult feelings alone.

Phone a Free helpline:

Samaritans – for everyone

Call 116 123



Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) – for men

Call 0800 58 58 58 – 5pm to midnight every day

Visit the webchat page


Papyrus – for people under 35

Call 0800 068 41 41 – Monday to Friday 10am to 10pm, weekends 2pm to 10pm, bank holidays 2pm to 5pm

Text 07786 209697



Childline – for children and young people under 19

Call 0800 1111 – the number won't show up on your phone bill