'My dad killed himself – and I still have no idea why'

·5 min read
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Will Castle with his Dad, in happier times. (Supplied, Will Castle)

Will Castle, 33, from London, is a married dad of two boys, and an associate director at property company CBRE. In November 2010, he discovered that his father Paul Castle, a property developer, had taken his own life at the age of only 54. 

Here, Will explains why he hopes that campaigns like Movember will prevent other families’ devastation.

"That Wednesday started like any other. My alarm went off, I had a shower, got in my car and headed to work, calling my dad on the way as usual. 

As we chatted about the day ahead, everything seemed normal. We spoke again around midday, briefly discussing a property deal we were looking at together.

The numbers didn’t appear to stack up and he was desperately trying to make them work, but I didn’t think anything of it. I knew money was tight and he was desperate to get this deal over the line, but at the end of the conversation, we both said,speak to you later,and hung up. 

Watch: Surgeon general: Many workplaces don't 'necessarily' support mental health

Read more: Pringles® Partners With Movember To Encourage Open Conversations Around Mental Health

He tried calling me later, but I missed it and when I returned the call it went straight to voicemail.

It turned out that it was the last time I would ever speak to my father.

Later that evening, I was out for a curry with friends when one of dad’s friends, H, called me, asking if I’d spoken to my dad that day.

"Yeah, a couple of times," I told him.

"What about this afternoon?" 

"No, why?" I said.

"I don’t know how to say this but he’s just been declared bankrupt," he replied.

My head spun. I tried to call dad but it went straight to voicemail. I called his partner, his best friend, and his lawyer, but no one had heard from him. I headed to Mayfair, thinking he was probably drowning his sorrows in one of his usual haunts, but he was nowhere to be seen. 

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Will Castle hopes that Movember will help men to open up. (Supplied, Will Castle)

He always parked his car in the same car park so I went to check if his car was still there – it was.

My phone battery was running low and as the porter to the car park knew me, I asked for dad’s keys to charge my phone. As I sat in his car, looking for clues, the news came on the radio. The Central Line had been suspended due to a possible suicide.

I called my dad’s friend again but we both agreed it couldn’t be him. No way. As I was only around the corner from the station, I headed round there, never suspecting he would have killed himself. I simply wanted peace of mind. 

When I arrived, I explained to one of the Tube workers that my dad was missing and I wanted to check he was okay. The man gave me a number for the British Transport Police.

Watch: Suicide can be preventable if we know the warning signs

I will always remember exactly where I was when I made that call – on the corner of Grosvenor Street and Duke Street, standing under a canopy in the pouring rain. I gave the officer some details about my dad and they confirmed it was him so I asked which hospital he was at.

‘There is no hospital sir, he’s dead. Where are you? I’m going to send a car for you straight away.’ he replied.

I gave the address, then vomited, stumbling out into the rain and letting out a scream. It was the loudest scream I’d ever let out and I was crying hysterically.

I called my housemate and will never forget the sound of his shriek, as he felt my pain. I felt myself going into survival mode, focusing purely on the practicalities of the situation. I made three of the hardest phone calls I’ve ever made in my life - to dad’s partner, his best friend and my brother-in-law. 

But I didn’t have the courage to tell my grandparents or sister, so I asked the people I’d already called to do it for me.

The police arrived and asked me questions, trying to build a picture of why he’d done it. The sad thing was, I had no idea. Dad had always seemed indestructible, the stereotypical ‘man’s man’ and no one had a clue anything was wrong.

Senior Woman Comforting Man With Depression At Home
It's so important for men to open up - no matter how 'strong and silent' they may seem. (Stock image, Getty Images)

My sister arrived and we didn’t say a word, she just hugged me tighter than she’d ever hugged me before. Crying in my arms she then told me that she was six weeks pregnant – dad’s second grandchild. A grandchild he’d never meet.

The next few days were a blur. Reading the eulogy at Dad’s funeral was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I made sure it did him justice.

Afterwards, a plethora of emotions hit me – emptiness, blame, guilt, loneliness. Should I have known? Could I have done anything? What if I’d not missed that phone call? Why did he do it? There was no note and those questions still remain unanswered and hurt my head every day.

Read more: World Mental Health Day: Therapists reveal exactly what to say when someone's struggling

I wish so badly that he was still here. To see that things do get better. To see how loved he was. To be at my wedding, see me become a father myself and to be a granddad to his grandchildren, who he would have adored.

The work that charities like Movember are doing to encourage men to open up cannot be underestimated. However bad things seem, suicide is never the answer. But some men feel it is their only way out.

We all need to check in on those we care about, tell them you love them, make sure they know they are not alone. It could save their life."

For more information or fundraise for Movember, sign up now at uk.movember.com

For help and support in crisis, contact The Samaritans

Watch: How to help a loved one struggling with anxiety or depression

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