Father of teen suicide victim founds charity to offer extra support in St Albans
PUBLISHED: 06:00 03 March 2016 | UPDATED: 08:33 03 March 2016
A grieving father, whose son took his own life aged just 15, has set up a foundation to help provide specialist suicide intervention training skills in schools and colleges across the county.
On Tuesday, May 5, 2015, Stuart Falconer awoke to news that is every parent’s nightmare - that his son, Morgan, had died.
The teenage pupil of Sandringham School in St Albans took his own life and became one of the thousands each year that make suicide the biggest killer of males under 45.
Except Morgan is not one of the statistics. The coroner passed an ‘open verdict’ at his inquest because the young man did not leave a note, or in fact, give any sign that he intended to kill himself.
Morgan did not ‘commit suicide’ either - Stuart stresses that the wording of that phrase is outdated. He said: “Commit goes back to when suicide was a crime, someone ‘committed suicide’ because they ‘committed a crime’.
“That’s exactly the kind of stigma we’re trying to get away from. People who take their own lives are not criminals, it could happen to anyone.”
Less than a year later and Stuart has set up the OLLIE (One Life Lost Is Enough) Foundation with hopes of providing specialist Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) to schools and colleges across Herts.
ASIST goes beyond the training currently available to staff and the Herts Advertiser wants to help the OLLIE Foundation raise £30,000 to fund up to four trainers in the county.
ASIST trainers will help teachers to become better at recognising people at risk of suicide, because, like many victims, Morgan’s suicidal thoughts were not on anyone’s radar.
As part of our support, the Herts Ad has launched the Something to Talk About... campaign to break through the taboos surrounding teen suicide and promote the OLLIE Foundation’s fundraising efforts.
Stuart, who shared custody of Morgan and his brother with his ex-wife, continued: “He was with me all the time for two weeks at a time with his older brother; we had a fantastic time. His death was a total shock to everybody that knew him.
“Me and the other trustees are very much of the thinking that if we can do something to prevent other parents going through what we’ve been through, then that’s something, because if it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone. And I fundamentally believe that.
“There will be people out there that believe ‘yeah but, you must have known something’, or ‘why didn’t you see something?’ but what sort of parent doesn’t notice something?”
Stuart described Morgan, whose nickname while growing up was ‘Tigger’, as an adorable boy. He said: “He was just the sweetest boy. When I used to go to the cinema he would sit on my lap. Morgan wore his heart on his sleeve which made him absolutely adorable. He would dress up, he was creative. I just remember the cuddly boy, that’s what I remember the most.
“The horrific reality of it is, he didn’t have to die. He had his whole future ahead of him, so for him to make that earth-shattering decision, there’s a bit of disbelief there.”
Stuart initially intended to organise a charity golf day for another organisation, but soon realised there was no specialist training available in St Albans.
He then decided to set up his own local charity alongside two other parents whose children took their own lives.
Stuart said: “We’re doing this for the community, because suicide touches everyone and if we all continue to bury our heads in the sand, avoid it being a topic of conversation, then one day it could be you. We need to do something to avoid other parents going through what I am going through.”
If you would like to help the OLLIE Foundation reach its target by attending an event or organising one click here.