Grieving mum’s moving promise after son kills himself days before 23rd birthday
The heartbroken mother of a talented language teacher has said it has become her "vocation to help save lives" after losing her son to suicide.
Oliver Hare had been teaching abroad shortly before he took his own life on Valentine's Day 2017 – two days before his 23rd birthday.
Oliver, from Worthing, graduated with a first-class degree in history from University College London [UCL] six months before his death.
The "talented" linguist, who spoke French, Spanish and German, moved to Shanghai to teach English and was placed in a school with no other English-speaking teachers.
His mother, Ann Feloy, said that her son felt "isolated" and never spoke out about feeling depressed before he went to China.
He had told his mum that he had felt like he "made the wrong choice" in taking the job.
"He was not a teaching assistant as he expected, but the teacher" Ann said.
Oliver had visited his mother in Dubai days before his death and after returning to the UK he felt anxious to go back to China to continue with his teaching job.
Ann said that Oliver had expressed his feelings, but suicide "was not something even on my radar".
She said: "Like any mother, [I was] concerned for her son going through a difficult time and wanting to give as much support as possible."
Oliver had asked his mother if he was "a burden" shortly before his death and Ann has said that now she has undergone suicide intervention training, she realises this was an "invitation" to ask about suicidal feelings.
Ann said: "I was fazed to hear this, as Oliver was the last person to be a burden to anyone. He was so kind and compassionate, always happy to help anyone.
"I now realise that when someone talks about themselves as being 'a burden', this is an invitation for you to explore about them feeling suicidal.
"There have never been suicides in my family, so asking about this was not something even on my radar."
Ann is now a trainer in Applied Skills Intervention Training [ASIST] and launched Olly's Future , a charity to celebrate her son's life and to raise awareness of suicide in young people.
She said after experiencing this "dreadful loss" she now works tirelessly to raise awareness and work with professionals to improve procedures.
She is the lead for the Practise Hope scheme, a collaboration between Health Education England and the charities Mind and Olly's Future.
Ann said: "I have a vocation to help save lives after losing Oliver. At the heart of my work is the desire to create the best possible legacy for my wonderful son.
"It is because of this lived experience and this dreadful loss that I have been now appointed Patients Care Lead for this ground-breaking initiative, working with 30 GP practices in Kent, Sussex and Surrey to improve how doctors reach out and support 10 – 25 year olds.
"The initiative also upskills GPs so that they are more confident about dealing with children and young people who have thoughts of suicide or who self-harm. They have very little training in this.
"We hope that this project will be rolled out nationally after the initial 18 month pilot and that it will reduce the number of suicides and self-harm in children and young people (10- 25 years of age). It will bring about a culture change in how GPs help children and young people with thoughts of suicide or who self-harm."
The Practise Hope project is funded by Health Education England and all funds from Olly's Future are put towards suicide prevention training.
Ann said: "All the funds from Olly's Future go to providing training in suicide prevention for those who want to go on a course.
"So far we have funded 822 people, including staff at UCL and Christ's Hospital where Oliver went to school in Horsham, to have suicide prevention training."
Oliver's university friends have also created a legacy for him by presenting awards to students at UCL who demonstrate great commitment to helping others.
The UCL Oliver Hare Altruism Award was set up by Ayesha Begum, Oliver's close friend.
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