Jennifer Offord's story
Thirty one year old Jennifer is a civil servant and Sports Blogger from Newington Green, London. Ten years ago, in May 2004, Jennifer’s brother Stephen took his own life, he was just 25 years old. Jennifer shares her memories of Stephen, her experience of losing someone to suicide, and what she is doing to raise awareness of Samaritans’ service.
“My brother, Stephen, was 25 when he took his own life. I was really close to Stephen and my other brother, when we were little. I think we probably locked horns a bit as teenagers, but became close again in our late teens and early twenties.
“Stephen was a gentle soul and a gifted artist. He was good at sport and was a massive West Ham supporter, which is odd, for a gentle soul! Some of my fondest memories are of spending time with my brothers, watching football, strangely, and it was them who got me interested in the game, which I now write about for a living. One story I always tell about Stephen is how he “saved my life” when I was very little, by jumping in the way of me and my bike as we careered towards a busy road.
“Stephen had a tough time of it as a teenager, it’s hard to know if this was because he was depressed, or if he was depressed because he’d had a tough time. Either way, he was really marred by low self-esteem and would have had very little idea how much he meant to so many people.
“It’s hard to say how we coped following the loss of Stephen, I just got on with my life and probably didn’t really deal with it until a good few years later. I think the greatest tribute I can pay my brother is to achieve the happiness that I suppose he couldn’t find.
“My family situation completely changed after Stephen died. My parents are now separated, which was tough, but I think we are all individually a lot stronger now. I am incredibly close to my other brother and we often talk about funny memories we have of Stephen.
“I think the work that Samaritans does is vital. Sometimes it’s the people we know that it’s the hardest to open up to. I know that in some of the dark times that followed Stephen’s death, I’ve not always felt comfortable talking to my friends and family. I can’t begin to imagine how a person could broach the subject that they’re thinking about ending their own life, with someone close to them. Samaritans provides a space for people going through a difficult time to take stock, talk through their problems, and find their way forward.”
Jennifer is taking part in this year’s RideLondon in memory of Stephen, and to raise vital funds so Samaritans can answer more calls from people struggling to cope.
You can help Jennifer achieve her fundraising target by visiting his fundraising page at: https://www.justgiving.com/Jennifer-Offord1/