Paul’s family hope to end mental health stigma

The family of Paul Shanks are holding a memorial fundraiser next month
The family of Paul Shanks are holding a memorial fundraiser next month

The family of a man who committed suicide earlier this year are bravely battling to make sure depression is not a taboo subject.

Paul Shanks was just 31-years-old when he killed himself in September after being reported missing. To everyone, including his family, he was happy-go-lucky guy and always the life and soul of the party so his death came as a shock.

Despite still reeling from the loss of the former professional football player from Falkirk, the family are determined to help other young men battling mental illness.

They have organised a fundraiser in Northstar, Paul’s regular pub, on December 4, with big name DJs including Jon Mancini to raise money in memory of the much loved father, son, nephew and brother.

Paul’s aunt Janet McQueen says organising the event is helping the family to come to terms with their grief.

Janet said: “The idea to fund raise for a suicide prevention charity came from my daughter Siobhan who decided to run a half marathon, then Paul’s sister Catherine and cousins Laura Ann and Paula joined in too.

“We decided to try to raise as much as possible and with Northstar being Paul’s local, it seemed like the ideal location for a fundraiser.

“The money will go to Samaritans Falkirk branch and stay in the area to raise awareness of suicide and let people know there are other options.”

Today is International Men’s Day with the main aim to increase awareness of mental health issues in men. Every day 13 men in the UK take their own life, with the 25-40 age category most at risk, and almost 80 per cent of suicides committed by men.

Janet said: “It’s something we need to talk more about, it cannot be a taboo subject. If someone is feeling low, talk to a friend, talk to the Samaritans, tell anyone. Talking about it is the first step in getting better, there is always light at the end of the tunnel.

“Since Paul’s death a group of his school friends got together after not speaking for a long time and made a pact that if ever, any of them was feeling down, they would talk to each other. If we make suicide more acceptable to talk about, the numbers will go down.”

The Paul Shanks fundraiser is at Northstar, Vicar Street on Friday, December 4 from 7.30pm with DJs Jon Mancini, Jamie Irwin, Stevie Walker and Big Sid on the decks. There will be a raffle and every penny donated goes to the Falkirk Samaritans. For ticket, call Janet on 07775 522654 or Siobhan on 07515 498865 or pop into the bar. Tickets are limited so early purchase is advised.

If you can contribute a prize for the raffle, please contact the family, you can sponsor #teamshanksy at mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/siobhanmcqueen1.