Josh was 21 when he made his final attempt to end his life.
25th November, 2020 – Life changed at once for the Hendy family, waking to the news of Josh’s death. Josh had a history of depression. This disease affected his ability to regulate his emotions, every struggle causing extreme distress that sunk Josh deeper into its pit.
But on the outside, Josh had been ‘the life and soul of the party’. His depression was masked too well, slowly making him feel more hopeless despite the smiles he shared and the love he was giving. Though Josh had sought medical support, nothing had worked. Not wanting to burden his friends and family – he was always thoughtful, to his own detriment – Josh failed to lean on his support systems.
Josh’s struggles began in Secondary School. Josh’s passion was music, setting him apart from his peers’ sports obsessions. A budding DJ, Josh often felt like he didn’t ‘fit in’ with the other students. Exacerbated by Tourette’s Syndrome, manifesting as both physical and verbal ticks, Josh became a target for bullying. Stigma about Tourette’s contributed to the depression already beginning to affect him.
In spite of the bullying and his health struggles, Josh was bright, excelling through school with ease. Spending his time on his Playstation or mixing tracks as a budding DJ instead of studying, Josh still went on to study Engineering at college.
‘A Silent Killer’
Josh felt like his depression was untreatable. Brave and forthcoming, Josh reached out to medical professionals, attended multiple therapy sessions, and took medication to try to ease his pain and anguish. Unable to find the right combination of medication and support, Josh began to feel like hopeless, like his attempts to recover from depression resulted in wasted time. He made several attempts on his life before his final, fatally successful one.
Depression had blinded Josh from seeing the love and support that was all around him. Given more time, he might’ve come to find a life he felt was worth living. He might’ve found a medication that finally worked. He might’ve met someone who treated him well and didn’t contribute to his pain.
Josh had seemed so full of life. He was bright, intelligent and a powerhouse of music knowledge. As part of a close family, he was always present for holidays, birthdays, Christmas and celebrations. He enjoyed mixing tracks for family and friends. He dedicated his time towards improving his community. But internally, his struggles had become too much to bare.
Depression and Harmful Content: A Lethal Combination
After his passing, Josh’s sister, Alice, found that he had a history of searching for suicide-related content on his devices. The only support search engines had offered him were the number to a helpline – woefully inadequate considering the weight of the subject matter and the risk posed by accessing that content.
Josh had ended his own life, but depression was his killer. The disease is easy to mask, striking its most deadly attack when people are at their most vulnerable and leaving them feeling helpless. Its victims often perform the roles they believe their circle needs them to fulfil – the happy, successful family member. The first person on the dance floor. The fun friend. Stigma, shame, and the demotivating effects of the disease all prevent its sufferers from feeling like they can find the help they need.
Of the 140,000 people in England and Wales who attempt suicide each year, it’s estimated that 70% suffer depression – too often going undiagnosed.
Ease of access to the means of suicide is also, according to the NHS, a significant factor that increases the likelihood of someone dying by suicide. Social media and dedicated forums make means more accessible by providing a range of methods to people who search, or stumble upon, that content.
Josh Hendy: Inspiring Help when People Need It Most
The R;pple Tool is not a cure for depression, but if adopted, may be able to help those at risk of suicide from making an attempt long enough to enable them to find the support they need. We’ve estimated that 1,000 lives could be saved every year if R;pple was adopted by organisations, households and educational institutions across the UK.
Josh’s family are calling on parents, schools, colleges, universities and businesses to recognise the risk of depression and it’s less obvious symptoms. R;pple exists in the hope that, one day, no family will ever live through the same tragic experience as Josh’s has.