Jessica Gallier left heartbroken after her father committed suicide.
In February 2017, Martin, 55, killed himself after suffering from mental torment and alcoholism for years.
His daughter Jessica was 29 at the time of his death and she had a baby son also. At one point the devastated daughter thought to end her own life but she mustered the courage to accept the bitter truth and started the Martin Gallier Project to give people life-saving “suicide first aid” skills.
In the first year, the charity has saved 400 lives, including that of mum-of-three Debbie Greer.Jessica recalled: “I went from the euphoria of being a new mum to feeling absolutely broken.
Rather than confront my grief I cut my maternity leave short and went back to work early.Losing dad turned my world upside down and made me realise with better education we could have been his safety net. ’’
“Everyone should know how to act if a friend, loved one or stranger tells them they’re struggling. Dad was the life and soul but had a long struggle with alcohol. As a family, we’d done all we could to help. It escalated to the point where we couldn’t do more.”
Eighteen months later, she visited A&E for a mental health assessment as she was going through so much pain. One of her friends accompanied her during the nine-hour wait. Jess was told to go away and pay privately for grief counselling.
She said: “I couldn’t really afford it. I had to choose between therapy and food. I was determined to get well so I went hungry. I’d seen the gaps in mental health care first-hand. People were dying for stupid reasons like opening times, waiting lists and not meeting the right criteria for help.”
After the therapy, she got inspired to set up the project in New Ferry, on the Wirral. The first woman who visited her was Debbie, a mum to Jenson, three, Charlie, seven, and Alfie, nine. She was ending her life after losing her mom and sister to cancer in a year.
Jessica spoke with Debbie for six hours after taking her to the hospital and later admitted her to a mental health ward. They both are now friends. Debbie said: “If it hadn’t been for her I’d have acted on my intentions. She saved my life.”
Last year, Jessica was abseiling down a cathedral for charity and she was informed about a suicidal man lying in the middle of the road. She lay down with him for 20 minutes and talked to him.
She said: “If you can find something in what they’re saying to you, and get them to commit to being safe for the next minute, hour or day, you can save lives.
That’s suicide first aid.No one is suggesting you provide lifelong support. It’s about intervention in the moment. ” Jessica now teaches her suicide first aid skills to families of mental health sufferers. “If you have a diabetic child, you learn how to give them insulin.
“Why should it be any different with mental health? It’s exactly the same. “So many people don’t know what to do when someone reaches out – we’re changing that.”
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