WHEN Emma Payne received a panicked call from her mum telling her to come home, she couldn’t comprehend the scale of what was about to hit her.
Adam was the happiest guy she knew – and unashamedly the favourite of her three brothers.
Emma Payne Adam Payne, 36, had been secretly battling depression
Emma Payne Emma cuddles her brother Adam and his five-year-old daughter Arabella on a skiing holiday
But after a torturous taxi journey from London to her parent’s house near Reading, Berkshire, she was given the devastating news.
Her fun-loving, outgoing, 36-year-old brother had taken his own life.
As the nearest siblings in age, the pair had always been close.
In fact, Emma, 31, says he was probably the person she was closest to in the world.
But she had no idea Adam had been hiding a secret battle with depression.
Emma Payne Adam, with his daughter Arabella, was secretly battling depression
Emma Payne Adam lifts his sister Emma up in the air as they celebrate her graduation together
As part of The Sun’s mental health awareness and suicide prevention campaign, You’re Not Alone this Mental Health Awareness Week, Emma is bravely sharing her brother’s story, in the hope it might help just one person struggling to cope.
She said: “We didn’t know Adam was depressed. He was always so happy and giving bear hugs – he would squat down and lift you up.
“Everywhere he went, he fitted in and people loved him.”
‘We were so close’
Emma, a ceramicist, added: “I’ve got three brothers but we were the nearest in age so they both know I was closest to Adam.
“He was the one person in the world that knew everything about me and didn’t judge me in any way.”
But when she discovered that Adam had borrowed money from a friend of theirs she quizzed him.
We didn’t know Adam was depressed… he was always so happy and giving bear hugsEmma Payne
“He said he was doing stock market spread betting. I don’t know much about it, but my parents and the rest of the family were like, ‘why?’
“He has a family, a house and a good job, he didn’t need anything else.
“So, he was like ‘you’re right, but it’s an addiction’. He said he didn’t know why he was doing it.
“He started going to Gamblers Anonymous meetings for help along with my mum and stopped gambling and got into fitness instead.”
Emma Payne Adam with his daughter Arabella, who he saw two weeks before he died
Emma Payne Emma says Adam was a social butterfly, pictured here with his friends
Emma Payne Adam, with his daughter Arabella, had shown no outward signs of depression before taking his own life
Emma Payne Emma Payne, with her brother Adam, who took his own life at the age of 36
But Emma said she started to notice he “wasn’t acting himself” about a year ago.
She said: “He was always happy, but you can tell when someone is faking it.
“It was stupid things really, but he just looked dead behind the eyes.
“We kept asking what was going on and he would just say he was fine.”
Emma explained that earlier in the year he had split up with his partner Alix and moved out of the home he shared with their five-year-old daughter Arabella.
But says: “It was nothing to do with the gambling – they just weren’t getting on, so the split was amicable.”
10 signs your loved one could be at risk of suicide
There are several warning signs that a person is at risk of suicide.
But it’s vital you know that they won’t always be obvious.
Lorna Fraser of the Samaritans said looking out for subtle personality changes in friends and family, especially if you know they have been going through a tough time.
These are the key signs to watch out for:
A change in routine, such as sleeping or eating less than normal
Lacking energy or appearing particularly tired
Drinking, smoking or using drugs more than usual
Finding it hard to cope with everyday things
Not wanting to do things they usually enjoy
Becoming withdrawn from friends and family – not wanting to talk or be with people
Appearing more tearful
Appearing restless, agitated, nervous, irritable
Putting themselves down in a serious or jokey way, for example ‘Oh, no one loves me’, or ‘I’m a waste of space’
Losing interest in their appearance, not liking or taking care of themselves or feeling they don’t matter
When one of Adam’s best friends, who lived in Copenhagen, invited him to come and stay, he jumped at the opportunity.
Emma said: “He told us he was going sort his head out, and we were like ‘yeah, fine’.”
But while visiting a friend in London for her birthday, Emma got a call from her brother, Matt, that would change everything.
She said: “I had a missed call from my other brother and thought that’s weird so I text him asking if he was alright and said I was just about to see a friend.
“He replied saying ‘I think you should come home’, which was weird, so I called him and he just kept saying ‘you need to come home, dad wants to see you’.
Since Adam died, I’ve cried more than I ever thought I couldEmma Payne
“I phoned my mum and she passed me over to Matt so I realised they were together, and then she said ‘me and your brother are going to see Ben and your dad’.
“So, I’m thinking those two are okay, but when I hung up I started thinking ‘what about Adam?’
“I decided I was going to go home but I wanted to know everyone was alive, and Matt told me everyone was fine, but I knew it was a lie. He’s just not a very good liar.
“I was shouting at him to tell me but he wouldn’t. I got in a taxi, crying my eyes out, and the poor driver must’ve wondered what was going on.
“It’s funny because before Adam died, I would watch a sad film and if I thought I was going to cry I’d do it in my private.
“But since, I’ve cried more than I ever thought I could.”
Emma Payne Adam, pictured here in a primary school photo, was always a happy young boy
Emma Payne Adam had told his family he was going to Copenhagen to ‘sort his head out’
Emma Payne Emma never suspected her happy-go-lucky brother would end his life
When she got back to the house she shares with her parents her worst fears were confirmed.
Adam’s friend had come home to find the young dad had hung himself.
Emma said: “He was away from home and alone. It still breaks my heart.”
The immediate family flew to Denmark, where Adam was cremated before they brought back his ashes.
“It’s a weird thing, you never think you have to ask a 36-year-old what they want to happen to them when they die or where they want to be buried.
“The rest of the family was like what do you think he’d prefer, and we just didn’t know.
“I didn’t like the idea of him being cold in a box with the luggage, so he was cremated and me and my mum had him in our laps as we came home.”
They held a celebration of Adam’s life back in the UK, which was packed with 600 friends and family and a gospel choir singing Elvis songs.
A week after his death, Emma went to see her doctor and broke down in tears as she started opening up about Adam, but she was left shocked by the reaction.
She said: “The doctor asked what was wrong and I said my brother has just died, and started crying, and she just went ‘so, do you have lots of paperwork to do?’
“I was pretty baffled. She started asking more questions and then said to me, ‘well, he does fit the demographic’.
YOU’RE NOT ALONE
EVERY 90 minutes in the UK a life is lost – to suicide.
It doesn’t discriminate, touching the lives of people in every corner of society – from the homeless and unemployed to builders and doctors, reality stars and footballers.
It’s the biggest killer of people under the age of 35, more deadly than cancer and car crashes.
And men are three times more likely to take their own life than women.
Yet it’s rarely spoken of, a taboo that threatens to continue its deadly rampage unless we all stop and take notice, now.
That is why The Sun launched the You’re Not Alone campaign.
The aim is that by sharing practical advice, raising awareness and breaking down the barriers people face when talking about their mental health, we can all do our bit to help save lives.
Let’s all vow to ask for help when we need it, and listen out for others… You’re Not Alone.
If you, or anyone you know, needs help dealing with mental health problems, the following organisations provide support:
Emma Payne Emma says she was super close to her brother Adam before he died
Emma Payne Adam with his daughter Arabella who he adored
Emma Payne Adam pictured here as a toddler
“She said she didn’t want to give me any drugs as it was still so raw but to come back in a weeks’ time.
“I was literally crying for help but the right kind of help wasn’t being offered.
“It made me think, if Adam had come to you and you said come back in a week, then no wonder.”
Emma said that while people are talking about mental health a lot more, there’s still a long way to go.
She said: “I think we are talking about it a lot more – you’re mental and physical well being, but there needs to be more research.
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“Adam wasn’t stolen from us, it wasn’t an accident or a disease that couldn’t be cured.
“He did choose to do what he did.
“A friend of mine whose partner is a doctor said that we don’t think of mental health as terminal but her partner works in a psych ward and some people just are terminally depressed.
“They just want to hurt themselves all the time.
“In that split second they’re alone they will take that opportunity.”
Why it’s up to all of us to reduce deaths by suicide
If you are affected by any of the issues raised in this article, please call the Samaritans (free) on 116 123.