A heartbroken mum today described her 17-year-old son as “the most bubbly and fun-loving, lovable boy you would ever know,” after he tragically took his own life.
Fanatical football fan Joshua Healey-Appleton was found in his bedroom by his mum Samantha at their home in St Helens in April.
The teenager was the “sunshine of my life,” the proud parent said, and was an avid Everton fan who was always out with his friends playing.
Today, mum Samantha told the ECHO: “Josh loved football, we used to go to Goodison, and really liked playing on his Xbox console, particularly FIFA.
“If someone was ever in need, he would help them, he’d go to college, buy a pack of sweets and share them with everybody.
“Josh was a funny, cheeky chappy.
“He used to call me ‘midget’ as he was 6ft 1ins and I’m 5ft 1ins.
“He’d put his elbows on my head and say, ‘Mum, when are you going to grow?'”
The teenager was found hanging in his bedroom on April 28, two months after being diagnosed with autism in February.
Helplines and support groups
The following are helplines and support networks for people to talk to, mostly listed on the NHS Choices website
- Samaritans (116 123) operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year. If you prefer to write down how you’re feeling, or if you’re worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Childline (0800 1111) runs a helpline for children and young people in the UK. Calls are free and the number won’t show up on your phone bill.
- PAPYRUS (0800 068 41 41) is an organisation supporting teenagers and young adults who are feeling suicidal.
- Mind (0300 123 3393) is a charity providing advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. They campaign to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding.
- Students Against Depression is a website for students who are depressed, have a low mood or are having suicidal thoughts.
- Bullying UK is a website for both children and adults affected by bullying.
- Hub of Hope is the UK’s most comprehensive national mental health support database. Download the free app, visit hubofhope.co.uk or text HOPE to 85258 to find relevant services near you.
- Young Persons Advisory Service – Providing mental health and emotional wellbeing services for Liverpool’s children, young people and families. tel: 0151 707 1025 email: email@example.com
- Paul’s Place – providing free counselling and group sessions to anyone living in Merseyside who has lost a family member or friend to suicide. Tel: 0151 226 0696 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Martin Gallier Project – offering face to face support for individuals considering suicide and their families. Opening hours 9.30-16.30, 7 days a week. Tel: 0151 644 0295 email: email@example.com
He had been suffering from anxiety and depression and had sought help from mental health services.
An inquest held last week heard how Joshua had written two notes in his own handwriting expressing his intentions.
Mum Samantha said losing her son remained very raw and the family was still trying to come to terms with the tragedy.
The 35-year-old added: “Joshua had mental health concerns, suffered from anxiety and depression which had been exacerbated by lockdown.
“He’d suffered bullying in the past because he thought everybody was his friend and suffered the consequences of that for a long time.”
Joshua was a devoted brother to his three siblings, aged 12, 10 and four, and three step-siblings.
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He excelled in his GCSEs and was a promising mathematician.
Samantha added: “This has devastated us as a family, and his grandparents are feeling lost without him.
“We attempted all avenues to help Joshua, but unfortunately it didn’t end well.
“I fought for 14 years before he was diagnosed with autism.
“I’d like to say to any person who is struggling with mental health, speak to someone, if you feel you can’t speak with your family try a group like MIND.
“There are so many people out there who will listen.
“I feel more needs to be done in schools for children, mental health is such a big entity now, it needs to be part of the curriculum.”
Joshua attended St Gregory’s and Penketh High schools in Warrington and also Cowley in St Helens.
Coroner Julie Goulding recorded a conclusion of hanging.
Samantha, a mum-of-three, and an administrator in drugs treatment, added: “Joshua would do anything for anybody.
“He was such a lovely, kind lad throughout his life.”