University College Jersey student Lloyd Goddard, who had ambitions to be a chef, was 23 when he died on 31 March. He is survived by his mother, father and three brothers. An inquest into his death is yet to be held.
Two of his closest friends, Sophie Howat and Jessica Luce, want to raise awareness of mental-health issues and raise money for a charity that supports Islanders in their darkest hours.
Suicide is the leading cause of death among people aged 20 to 34 in the UK, figures show, and it is considerably higher in men, with around three times as many men dying as a result of suicide compared to women. It is the leading cause of death for men under 50 in the UK.
Last year, in Jersey, there was a record number of reported suicide attempts, with the Hospital’s Emergency Department recording 39.
Miss Luce (25), who had been friends with Lloyd for five years, said: ‘He loved going out and having a drink. He was funny, charming and witty. We would be out and he would know so many different people and was chatting to everyone.’
Miss Howat, who has also suffered from depression and an eating disorder, said: ‘He was not shy at all, he would speak with anyone. He could be with someone he had never met and they’d start chatting and then they’d be friends. That’s the sort of person he was.’
The 22-year-old added: ‘You wouldn’t have known there was anything wrong with Lloyd except he might open up when he had a few drinks. At university he might come in late or go long periods with not showing up and I would ask if he was okay and he might say he was just struggling a bit.
‘People would put it down to him being lazy or just Lloyd being Lloyd if he wouldn’t turn up to a 9am lecture. No one really knew how much he was struggling.’
The former De La Salle student was due to turn up for work as a waiter at The Farmhouse restaurant in St John on the day he died. He had booked a birthday celebration trip to Amsterdam to mark his 24th birthday in June and the Islander, who was ‘always up for a party’ had plans to go to this year’s Weekender festival too.
‘I last spoke to Lloyd on the Thursday about a project we were working on together at university. He sent me a thumbs-up emoji. By the Sunday, he was dead.’
The two friends are now organising a sponsored walk in aid of mental-health charity Mind Jersey.
Miss Howat said: ‘We wanted to do something that was positive and healthy and good for people.’
She added: ‘My message to friends and family of people struggling with depression is don’t be afraid to speak to the person about the way they may be feeling. People, I think, are often scared to talk to people who are depressed or having suicidal thoughts but if you talk about it I think they are less likely to harm themselves. It will help them put things into perspective.
‘And if you are struggling yourself I would just say talk to someone; a friend, family member or someone at work. Call Samaritans, talk to a professional and if it reaches that stage go to A&E. Just talk to someone.’
James Le Feuvre, executive director of Mind Jersey, said the taboo surrounding talking about mental health was getting less, but it still existed.
‘Half of all mental-health problems are established by the age of 15, which tells us we should be doing more with schools and colleges. We know more needs to be done and it’s about getting in sooner rather than later.
‘Ignoring it, hoping it will go away, isn’t the answer.’
The sponsored walk, from La Frégate Café to St Aubin and back, is due to take place on Sunday. Those wishing to take part are asked to meet at the café at 11am. The recommended donation is £10 for adults and £5 for children. A JustGiving page has already been set up in Lloyd’s memory and has raised £500.
States police 612612 or 999 in an emergency
Samaritans: 116 213
Mind Jersey: 0800 7359404