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Highlands & Islands

Heartbroken Highland mum who lost son to suicide: ‘There are so many people who care, please don’t give up’

Eileen More issued the plea as she opened up about her son Fraser, who died aged 25.
Stuart Findlay
Eileen More lost her son Fraser, 25, to suicide in April 2021. Image: Sandy McCook/DC Thomson
Eileen More lost her son Fraser, 25, to suicide in April 2021. Image: Sandy McCook/DC Thomson

Eileen More used to love a party.

If it was a night out with friends, she’d be ready to soak up every moment.

But these days, even the idea of a trip to the shops in Tain fills her with dread.

It’s been two and a half years since her son Fraser took his own life.

Life has felt very different ever since.

“I’ve never been an anxious person,” Eileen said.

“But now I just don’t want to meet folk.”

Sociable Fraser showed no visible warning signs

Fraser More had so much going for him.

He was outgoing, he was selfless.

He had a great group of friends around him and loved spending time with them.

The former Tain Royal Academy pupil owned his own home by the age of 22.

While most people in their early and mid 20s were still figuring out what they wanted to do with their lives, Fraser was already running his own gardening business.

In short, there was no reason to worry about him.

When Fraser asked his mum and dad if they would look after his dog for a night at their home in Portmahomack, there was nothing unusual about the request.

Fraser More grew up in Tain. Image: The More family

He was going to a friend’s barbecue and they thought he just wanted the freedom to sleep it off if he was feeling a little rough the next day.

Anyone who’s been responsible for a dog during their late night party years will be able to relate to that.

The next morning, a Sunday in April 2021, there was no word from him.

Maybe he was still just under a duvet, nursing a hangover.

With no response to their calls or texts, Fraser’s mum and dad decided to head to his house in Tain.

A friend of Fraser’s told his mum and dad he’d been in good form the night before and had walked home around 10pm.

That message and the sight of his pick-up truck in the driveway provided a moment of reassurance.

But that didn’t last. Fraser had taken his own life.

He was 25 years old.

‘Totally blindsided’

The suddenness of Fraser’s death hit the More family like a sledgehammer.

The pain of losing him was even harder to bear alongside the lack of an explanation for what happened.

Fraser felt low, but never told a soul.

His family didn’t know, his friends were none the wiser.

Fraser had a keen interest in gardening and started his own business. Image: More family

They wondered if his death had just been a spur of the moment thing, a daft decision taken after a little bit too much to drink.

Eileen said: “He had a great family but he couldn’t go on with the pain in his head.

“There were no signs with Fraser, we were totally blindsided.

“I don’t think he wanted to leave us, he just didn’t know how to stay.”

Coping with the aftermath

After going through such a difficult ordeal, Eileen didn’t know what to expect.

The time since Fraser’s death hasn’t been so much about recovering from the grief as it has about learning to cope with it.

The early days were especially tough.

Sometimes Eileen couldn’t get out of bed, sometimes she didn’t want to still be here.

Eileen and her son in happier times. Image: More family

She said: “You find yourself drowning in sadness. I think you’re just numb and in shock for a long time.

“I am lucky that I have good friends and family around me. But sometimes it feels like it’s not enough.”

Knowing what a rash decision of her own would do to her family is what prevents that situation from escalating.

But so many people who are struggling don’t have that lived experience of knowing what happens to the people left behind – the family and friends who are bereaved by suicide.

For Eileen, that’s where the James Support Group comes in.

Formed by Patrick and Wendy Mullery in response to the lack of support for families bereaved by suicide in the Highlands, it’s a safe space to discuss how you’re feeling.

Clinical psychologist Nicola Urquhart is a key contributor to the work the group does.

The support provided by others who’ve been through a similar thing has been invaluable to Eileen.

Talking can save a life

The group holds regular meetings across the Highlands.

Since Fraser’s death, two people that knew him have approached Eileen to say that they’ve been through their own struggles and that what happened to him was the wake-up call they needed to seek help.

At the support group itself, hearing from people who have contemplated suicide has also helped Eileen understand some of what her son was going through.

Eileen said: “Suicide is so complicated. So many questions, so few answers.

“To survive the loss of a child, it changes you. That person has gone and a new person has taken my place.

“I miss Fraser, I miss the family we used to be and I miss the old me.”

Patrick Mullery (pictured) formed the James Support Group with his wife Wendy. Image: Jason Hedges/DC Thomson

Recently published figures showed that there were 42 probable suicide deaths in the Highlands in 2022.

There were 40 in 2021 and 44 in 2020.

The standard rate in the Highlands between 2018 and 2022 was higher than the national average for both males and female.

Eileen said: “To any young people struggling, please do not give up.

“There are so many people who care. Please talk to someone and seek help, do not suffer in silence.”

How to get help

It is so important that if you are having thoughts of suicide, you reach out to someone.

The James Support Group can be reached 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 07563 572 471.

You can also reach out to the group on Facebook or by email.

There are also a number of other local and national groups offering support in time of crisis or mental distress.

  • Mikeysline – 07786 207755 (Sunday to Thursday 6pm – 10pm, Friday to Saturday 7pm – 7am)
  • Samaritans – 116 123 (calls are free and do not show on a phone bill)
  • Breathing Space – 0800 83 85 87 (Monday to Thursday 6pm – 2am; Friday 6pm to Monday 6am)

If you are concerned about someone else don’t be afraid to ask, “are you OK?” and help them to get help.

This story is the first of a three-part series on suicide prevention in the Highlands.

Its goal is to shine a light on the issue and to provide a message of hope to people who are struggling themselves.