Bristol woman says her 'whole world went black' on the day her little brother died

By Liam Buckler

A Bristol woman has spoken of her pain at losing her little brother to suicide - just two years after her older brother tried to take his own life.

On Monday, Ella Rothwell will start a mission to run six marathons in six days to raise money for mental health charity CALM after losing her little brother Fred to suicide when he was just 23 years old.

Ella, 28, is aiming to raise £20,000 for the charity who do life changing work for those suffering with their mental health or are in a crisis.

Read More: Where to find support in Bristol if you're struggling with mental health

She will be running from Soho square in London to the Suspension Bridge in Bristol where there is a printed memorial of her little brother, Fred.

Ella Rothwell said: “My brothers have been my best friends throughout my life. There’s just no bond that can come close to what you have with your siblings, it’s like this giant invisible hug that’s with you constantly, keeping you safe and never letting you feel alone.

“Fred came walking into this world as the naughtiest, cheekiest, most loveable little boy you could ever meet. His infectious laugh and personality meant that anyone who met him instantly fell in love with him.

“Jack being the eldest of us three would always look after us, he was the leader of the pack and although he is one of the calmest people I know.

"He was always incredibly protective and a voice of reason and support when both Fred and I found ourselves in trouble.

“As we grew up, life took us all off on our own adventures. Jack and Fred both went to work on sailboats around Europe, and I moved to London to start my career."

However in February 2017, Ella headed back to Bristol for a weekend with the family.

She said: “As soon as I opened the door, I saw a very blurry eyed mum and dad who sat me down and told me that Jack was currently in a coma in ITU after attempting to take his own life.

"It was crushing. Fred was away on the boats but flew home as soon as he found out what had happened. For the following week the four of us sat at Jack's bedside in ITU nervously waiting to see if he’d wake up."

There had been signs with Jack as he had been struggling being away from home, according to Ella.

She said: “He had been struggling with his mental health, insomnia and being away from home and when he’d come back from working abroad it felt like we’d tried to wrap him up in bubble wrap to keep him safe as a family.

“Jack survived, and Fred and I were with him supporting him throughout his recovery.

"He worked so incredibly hard, and with the support of a local mental health rehabilitation unit in Bristol was able to get the help he needed to start his long and brave journey to recovery.

“Jack got a new girlfriend, and they started a handmade jewellery business together, and Fred moved back to Bristol to start a new job after living on my sofa in London for a few months. Everything was starting to feel happy again."

However, on April 13, 2019, Ella's world had changed forever with some heartbreaking news.

She said: “My cousin arrived whilst I was doing a shift at the restaurant I worked at. I’ll never forget the expression on his face, it was terrifying.

“He thought I already knew and was just coming to pick me up and take me back to Bristol but sadly he had to be the one to tell me that Fred had taken his own life.

“My whole world went black. Anyone who has lost someone to suicide will know the feeling of complete helplessness, confusion, and indescribable pain that you experience."

Suicide rates in England have risen by 17% in the past 10 years, with 94 people taking their own life every week. Men are still disproportionately affected, with 75% of all suicides being male.

Ella added: “There had been no signs, no red flags that warned us this might happen. We never saw it coming.

“Like so many who lose loved ones to suicide, I will always wonder if there was anything I could have done, any signs I should have spotted.

“Life will never be the same without our beautiful Fred. He lit up any room he entered and when he died a little part of me went with him.

“I want to do anything I can to fight for all those who are feeling lost or like they have no other option.

"So, I’m going to be running for my brothers and for every single person who has been affected by suicide."

And Ella is encouraging people to check in on friends and family members who might have gone a little quiet.

She said: "Please check in on your favourite people, your loved ones, your mate who has been a little quiet recently and please be brave enough to ask the harder questions and start the conversations.

"And to anyone who is struggling with their mental health just remember you are loved, you are special and there is always hope.”

Ella's efforts have been praised by James Baker, Head of Fundraising, Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM): “We are completely blown away by Ella's gargantuan fundraising efforts to run 157 miles from London to Bristol.

“It's thanks to our incredible supporters up and down the country, who raise vital funds and awareness, that we continue to be there for people who need us, no matter what.

“Every week in the UK 125 people take their own lives, 125 individuals who couldn’t see a way out.

“At CALM, we believe there is always hope, always a reason for living. That's why we'll be cheering Ella on all the way to the finish line."

To donate to Ella’s Just Giving page click here

Get the best stories about the things you love most curated by us and delivered to your inbox every day. Choose what you love here.


What is inkl?

Important stories

See news based on value, not advertising potential. Get the latest news from around the world.

Trusted newsrooms

We bring you reliable news from the world’s most experienced journalists in the most trusted newsrooms.

Ad-free reading

Read without interruptions, distractions or intrusions of privacy.