Posted: Wed 31st Jan 2024

Alyn and Deeside MS, Jack Sargeant, opens up about the suicide of his dad and best friend

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Jan 31st, 2024

In a deeply personal and emotional interview with the BBC, Jack Sargeant, the Member of the Senedd for Alyn and Deeside, has spoken candidly about the “worst pain in the world” following the suicide of his best friend, Jamie Wynne.

The tragedy came just a few years after the loss of his dad, Carl Sargeant, a Welsh government minister who also took his own life in 2017.

The two losses have left an indelible mark on Jack, who is now using his platform to advocate for better mental health support, especially among men.

Jack and Jamie’s friendship spanned over 20 years. Growing up together, they were bonded by their shared love for football.

“He was a person who would do anything for anyone.”

“He would have been the first one you could go to. I did that myself on many occasions.” Jack said.

Jamie died at the age of 28. Speaking in an interview for the first time about the death, Jack remembers the last time he saw him.

“He came to mine after the game; there was a few of us there and he sang, I have this plug-in karaoke machine.

“He’s an awful singer.

“But he would make you laugh, make himself laugh. He was always the life of the party.”

“He was obviously in a lot of pain. We don’t know what that was exactly or why.

“It’s a big gap to fill… I’ll never hear his infectious laugh again, but it will stick with me and many others forever.’’

“He would have been the first one you could go to. I did that myself on many occasions,” Jack said.

Jack’s reflections on his friend’s struggle with mental health, and his own challenges with depression and PTSD, shed light on the broader issue of mental health stigma, particularly among men.

The statistics are sobering; the latest data from the Office for National Statistics reveals that Wales, alongside parts of England, has one of the highest male suicide rates in the UK.

This, coupled with the fact that men are three times more likely to die by suicide than women in Wales, underscores the need for urgent action.

“It’s two men, it’s young men as well. Jamie was 28 and dad was 47, so that’s two men under 50,” Jack said.

Jack was being interviewed on the football pitch at Wepre Park which has been renamed the Jamie Wynne Memorial Ground, he said: “You wouldn’t wish the pain and the suffering that families go through – and people go through – following a suicide, on anybody in the world”

Jack is vocal about the necessity of accessible professional support for those struggling with mental health issues.

He believes support for men can come from within communities.

Connah’s Quay Town FC, who Jamie played for launched an initiative to train mental health ambassadors and create a safe space for men to talk.

It is a model that Jack believes should be replicated across more clubs and organisations.

He said:  “We need to look at settings like this where men come to a safe space and can open up and talk.”

“It is certainly something we should look for more clubs to do, and more organisations.”

“We’ve got to be in a position, and it’s not an overnight solution, but if people need to access professional support, they should be able to very quickly.”

The poignant discovery of a note from his father, urging the importance of looking after one another, reinforces Jack’s message of community and support.

“He used to have suit jackets everywhere, as you can imagine. In them would be a broken pair of glasses, a pen that probably didn’t have a lid, and usually nothing else.

“But, when we were clearing his suits out, one jacket I’d picked up had this piece of paper inside.”

The piece of paper Jack found was the back of a menu from a Chairman’s Charity Ball when Carl Sargeant had to say a few words.

“He scribbled a few words on the back, ‘edrych ar ôl ein gilydd’, look after each other.

‘’If we can do that for each other, then we give ourselves a fighting chance.’’

When life is difficult, Samaritans are here – day or night, 365 days a year. You can call them for free on 116 123, email them at jo@samaritans.org, or visit www.samaritans.org to find your nearest branch.

Information and Support: BBC ACTION LINE

[Main photo: BBC]

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