Sheffield dad whose son took his own life says 'we’re losing far too many good people to suicide'

A Sheffield dad whose son tragically took his own life has called for better mental health support on World Suicide Prevention Day.

Friday, 10th September 2021, 11:12 am

Mike McCarthy, a former Sky News and BBC correspondent, said ‘we’re losing far too many good people to suicide’ as he honoured his late son’s plea to campaign for better mental health support in the UK.

Ross McCarthy was 31 years old when he took his own life after a 10-year struggle with severe depression, his father said.

Speaking on World Suicide Prevention Day (FRI), he said his son thought he had turned a corner at Christmas, when he was last with him.

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Ross McCarthy was 31-years-old when he took his own life after a 10 year long struggle with severe depression, his father said (pic: Mike McCarthy/PA Wire)

But Ross died in February, leaving a fiancee, Charlotte, and a three-year-old son, Charlie.

Mr McCarthy said: “Ross left a long farewell letter in which he addressed each member of the family and asked us if we would campaign for better mental health support.

“After 10 years of struggling with severe depression – and I mean struggling, as Ross was a true warrior – he tried his very, very best to help himself and to reach out to others for help.

“And he thought that he had reached salvation.

Undated family handout photo of Ross McCarthy (right) with his family. His father Mike McCarthy (second right), a former national TV journalist, is carrying out his late son's wishes by campaigning for better mental health support. Issue date: Friday September 10, 2021. PA Photo.

“But we’ll never know for sure why he took his life. We think it’s because the depression came back with a vengeance when he was least expecting it.”

Mr McCarthy decided to help set up a new group in Sheffield, where he lives, to encourage men to talk to each other.

He said: “Let’s talk about it. Let’s be open about it. Let’s bring it out of the shadows.

“Suicide is lurking in a dark corner and, I think partly because of that, it doesn’t get the funding it deserves in terms of suicide prevention, it doesn’t get the attention it deserves.

“Men in particular, I think, are ashamed and embarrassed to talk about their mental health.

“We’ve got phrases like, Man Up and Big Boys Don’t Cry, and all that kind of stuff. And I think it reflects this cultural attitude towards men and emotion.

“We’ve got to talk about these things because bottling it up has led to really serious problems – really serious problems."

The new Talk Club group met at Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane ground for the first time this week.

Mr McCarthy said the club has been extremely supportive and he is hoping the idea will spread across the football world, with its direct access to young and middle-aged men.

He said: “As the title suggests, it’s just a safe, non-judgmental, confidential place where men can go and open up, talk about their feelings, why they feel the way that they do, how they think they might be able to improve their feelings.

“Lots of us go to the gym to try and make a physical improvement but Talk Club is a gym for the mind.”

More than £24,000 has been raised in memory of Ross for Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) and more details can be found at www.justgiving.com/remember/844507/Ross-Mccarthy.

Mr McCarthy said tickets are still available for a fundraising gala dinner in Sheffield on October 8 that will take place at Hilton Hotel Sheffield Park, which he hopes will be a celebration of his son’s life.