Seb (Sebby sunshine as we affectionately called him as a little one because he was always beaming) was a bright, intelligent, funny, sensitive, very competitive, sporty, kind, and handsome young man, with so much to live for.
Despite all these qualities, he always found dealing with and talking about his emotions impossible. His fiercely stubborn streak didn’t help. People who didn’t know him could be forgiven for thinking he was quiet or shy however, those fortunate enough to have got to know him well, often recount otherwise.
He loved his music, basketball (New York Knicks), Manchester United, UFC (George St Pierre and Michael Bisping) boxing and Muay Thai. He practised the latter two at local clubs.
He lived his whole life in the family home, in a village in North Staffordshire. As a result, he went all through school with a small but very tight circle of friends. He was very much a ‘home bird’ but had talked often of wanting to spend some time when he was older, perfecting Thai boxing in Thailand.
What many – other than those very close to him – didn’t see, was Seb’s struggle to fit in; although in fairness, he often made no effort at all to integrate with people he didn’t feel drawn to. He was, at the time of his death, undergoing assessment for autism which he knew from his own research was likely to be confirmed. What others regarded as normal social interaction, Seb could find extremely difficult and draining, often resulting in him taking to his bed, unless he had school or subsequently college, neither of which he missed unless absolutely necessary. He was incredibly self-regimented when it came to attendance and timekeeping for both.
In March 2020 he was about to take his GCSEs and leave school when the pandemic struck. Whilst he was not disappointed as many were to have missed out on a prom (he had a real dislike of being the centre of attention), he felt very deeply that there was an anti-climax to his compulsory education, coupled with the premature and very sudden loss of some of his friendship group. He missed seeing his friends and long-term girlfriend (all of whom he loved) every day at school. It transpired after he died, that he had, quite often, like many young people, sneaked out to secretly meet up with his friends and his girlfriend.
Seb struggled with change and so, wherever possible, foreseeable change had to be carefully managed. His transition from school to college in September 2020 went far better than we had anticipated. He really seemed to be spreading his wings and was doing exceptionally well academically, although the social struggles continued to a degree, as he became separated from many of those who had been his constant friendship group, for well over a decade. Many had, by that time, opted for different courses of study, so the paths of some crossed less frequently. Just as he was settling, finding his feet, and growing in confidence, Covid restrictions struck again. He tried, with limited success, to undertake remote learning but, again, like so many young people, could not muster the motivation. It was yet another change and by this time, his relationship with his girlfriend was also under considerable strain, as they each struggled with the isolation that formed part of Covid restrictions, and eventually, very sadly, they parted but it seems, not completely.
Four days after his 17th birthday in July 2021, my mum – the boys’ beloved ‘nan’ – passed away, following a terminal illness. This diagnosis, 12 months earlier, Seb had found exceptionally difficult to accept and her subsequent passing he found impossible to talk about or process.
When he returned to college in September 2021, the focus was heavily upon university applications. He was an intelligent boy, very good at maths and science and was in the process of applying to study Bio Medical Science at University. He would undoubtedly have got the grades he needed but again, the idea of so much more change, people, places etc was incredibly difficult for him to handle. His friendship/support group was, in his eyes, about to splinter yet further and friendships would again, be tested.
Seb took his own life in November 2021 leaving myself, his dad, brother, friends, family, and a community bereft, totally devastated, and without answers to so many questions, the answers to which, now, we will never know…
Had Seb been able to open up and talk about the pain that he was obviously experiencing, had he known about and felt able to access HOPELINE247, things may have been very different not only for him, but also for the very many people who still love, miss and remember him daily. Many of them join us in memory of him, on his birthday, at the ‘SebJam’ basketball game (his brother’s wonderful idea), to celebrate his all too short, but precious life.
Seb could not possibly have had any ‘real’ concept, of the hugely devastating effect his loss would have on so many people, otherwise, he’d still be here.
Something has to change the staggeringly stark statistic, that suicide remains the single biggest killer of our under 35s.
We very much hope that you will join us for a walk and a chat if you are able to, at any stage along our route, raising hope and awareness as we go.
Liz – always the mother of two beautiful boys x