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My dad tried to call me on the day of his suicide – but I missed it

My dad was the life and soul of the party (Picture: Chris Door)

The biggest ‘what if’ for me will always be the phone call that I missed on the day of my dad’s death.

I was 20 years old at the time and he rang while I was at work, so I didn’t answer, thinking I’d get back to him on my lunch break. I had no idea that I’d never be able to speak to him again.

I ended up phoning him back in the evening but I didn’t get through – I didn’t think anything of it.

The next morning, I got another call – but it wasn’t my dad, it was my step-mum to say he’d been missing since last night.

I set off from my home in Biggin Hill with my 18-year-old brother and girlfriend to Staplehurst, Kent, where my dad lived. But just 10 minutes into the journey, my phone rang again.

Our 44-year-old dad had been found dead. It was the worst outcome imaginable.

Being the eldest of four, my immediate thought was for my two youngest brothers who were still at school and had no idea. I went into autopilot.

I don’t think I cried initially. I turned the car around to go back home and decided I would be the one to give my brothers the devastating and unexpected news.

Telling them was the hardest moment of my life – they were 14 and 16 at the time; having to explain that they were never going to see their dad again and there was no real reason as to why.

Suicide was something we were all aware of, but only from afar; we had never expected it to impact us in such an acute way. Still, to this day, when I hear people talking about suicide or I read something, my body tenses up and I have to force myself to get through the pain of that conversation.

Although there was an inquest into his death, we didn’t get many answers. It probably left us with more questions, if anything. We found out that my dad had had pretty severe money issues, which he had kept well hidden. He was divorced from my mum so had six children to provide for.

My memories are a little hazy now, but on the day of his death, I believe a forklift driver had driven into his new car. Most people would find this annoying, but for my dad, already on the edge, it set off a chain reaction. I will never know if he had planned it for a long period of time or whether it was the worst ‘in the moment’ decision anyone could make.

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