Husband who lost wife to suicide urges people to 'open up' ahead of 10 million metres fundraiser backed by Emmerdale star
A grieving husband who lost his wife to suicide has urged people “open up” and talk about their feelings to prevent the “devastation” he has experienced ahead of a fundraiser for the mental health charity If U Care Share.
The fundraiser and awareness campaign is also being backed by soap star Vicky Hawkins who played Sharon Lambert in ITV soap Emmerdale and is a friend of the couple.
May 2, 2021, started the same as any other day for Dave and Michelle Bainbridge, with no indication of the tragedy about to unfold.
Retired police officer Dave, 53, said: “I did a bit of paperwork for my dog-walking business and went to play golf. We had planned to go out that afternoon when I got back.
“Michelle was a bubbly person who loved to socialise and we had a really good life.”
However, Dave returned from golf to find Michelle had taken her own life.
He added: “I walked in and found her. She had prepared everything as if we were still going out, having made our sandwiches and packed a bag, but something obviously triggered her to make that decision.”
While Michelle had suffered from depression, she had never given any indication she was considering taking her own life and Dave on wishes she had opened up about how she was feeling.
He added: “She’d never talked about it and outwardly you certainly wouldn’t have thought she had a mental health problem. I only wish she had opened up and spoken about how she was feeling.
"I’ve never searched for answers but I always carry that overwhelming feeling of what led Michelle to do it?”
Following Michelle’s passing, Dave and Michelle’s mother, Vera, were directed to the suicide support charity If U Care Share, who provided counselling and helped them to try to come to terms with what had happened.
The charity was established in 2005 in memory of Daniel O’Hare who at the age of 19 tragically took his own life.
Their three main aims are to support vulnerable people by preventing and intervening with people at risk of taking their own life as well as helping family and friends bereaved by suicide.
Dave now wants to highlight the importance of the charity’s work, raise the profile of mental health and prevent other families going through the “devastation” he experienced.
He said: “Michelle’s mum was really struggling and they were brilliant in providing support. The work they do, even if it only prevents one person having to go through what I have, then they are worth their weight in gold.
"Mental health is such a massive thing. There’s still a stigma attached to it and so much more needs to be done to understand it. To understand what’s going through a person’s mind that leaves them feeling the only way to deal with it is to take their own life.”
For anyone having such thoughts or family members who are worried about loved ones, Dave has a clear message.
"Don’t hesitate, open up about how you are feeling. I don’t want what happened to Michelle and my family to happen to anyone else,” he said.
He added: “Pick up the phone to If U Care Share. There are experts on hand to help.”
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To raise money and the profile of the charity and its cause, Dave is joining friends and family at 2B-Fit Gym – which he and Michelle used to regularly use – in Chester-le-Street to take part in a 24-hour fundraising session in which participants will collaborate their efforts to cover a combined distance of 10 million metres, the equivalent of 6,300 miles.
The distance can be covered using the bike, ski and rowing machines as well as walking or running routes on the nearby C2C cycle route.
A fundraising target of £5,000 has been set and donation’s can be made via the fundraising group’s Total Giving page.
Dave, who plans on being at the event for its full duration, said: “By supporting If U Care Share, your contribution could help save a life and prevent a family going through the devastation mine did, and I can’t think of a greater thing to do.”
One of those taking part is Michelle’s friend and actor, Vicky Hawkins, who as well as Emmerdale has also starred in Byker Grove and the firefighting drama Steel River Blues.
Vicky said: “Michelle was a good friend of mine and it came as a huge shock. She always seemed to be full of high spirits and all in all, happy. Michelle and her husband were like part of the furniture at the gym and nobody could say anything but good things about what they brought to the 2B-Fit family.
“The charity is special to all of us and we are so pleased we are in a position to support them and raise money to help anyone who may feel they have no other option when suffering with their mental health.
"I will be supporting the event with full force and intend to stay for the full 24 hours and contribute everything I can.”
2B-Fit owner Stephen Stephen Brewis helped to organise the event and is also taking part.
He said: “The news about Michelle came as a massive shock and we wanted to do something to support Dave’s chosen charity. What happened to Michelle has opened a bit of a door with more people at the gym opening up about mental health as well their own family members and friends who they’ve lost to suicide.”
The event is open to anyone, with participants simply needing to register on the gym’s Google Drive spreadsheet. It will start at 6pm on Friday May 26.
Stephen added: “To cover the combined distance in 24 hours we need as many people as possible to get involved.”
Anyone who would like to contact If U Care Share can do so by calling 0191 387 5661.