Losing someone to suicide is one of the worst experiences of my life and it changed me forever and will continue to do so throughout my life.
I didn’t realise the importance of life and the importance of everyone in it until I lost someone. Knowing that great people feel that they are insignificant and that many become more frightened of life itself than the option of death changed me, it changed who I was, where I was heading and it has made me committed to showing young men (and women) that they are important, that how they feel is ok and that life can good. I am now using my own knowledge and experience to point others in the right direction.
It had been such an awful and sad time for us and when I found out about The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) I decided to do a comedy night. I had only ever organized my own birthday party and had no experience of comedy but I wanted us to laugh again. I wanted myself and my family and friends to be reminded that you can see the funny side of life even in the most awkward and heart wrenching of times and that was how it all started.
“Stand Up To Stop Suicide” grew and grew and the pinnacle of miracle moments was when BAFTA winner Stephen Merchant emailed me and asked to get involved. My passion for the importance of this event allowed me to gather together a great team and they helped me create an event that saved CALM from closure with over £10,000 being raised and the promotion reached out to millions of young men, their friends and their families. It was a night that I know Aaron would have been proud of.
After this event CALM asked me to become an official ambassador and it is one of the biggest achievements of my life so far. I never asked tragedy to hit my life but if I can help just 1 young man in this role I will be a very happy lady. In all my trials and tribulations I have never reached the point of feeling suicidal but I have experienced feeling so much emotional difficulty and pain that you pray that you will go to sleep and never wake up. With my communication skills and my own experience of being both sides of the coin I am doing all I can to share the methods, knowledge and techniques I used to get myself back on my feet and that I can only wish I shared with Aaron before he chose to go.
“Stand Up To Stop Suicide” has since been on tour in Liverpool and Manchester and I know we are looking to do more comedy in the future. With various comedians now supporting CALM due to this debut London gig it is nice to see something I created grow from strength to strength and be taken on by other CALM supporters across the UK. No matter how big or small their comedy gig is it feels amazing to pass on my initial baton and see them create something of their own.
Cream and Creamfields have supported CALM since it begun and I have been working on creating music interviews with the DJs and musicians at these and other events. With a natural knack of getting celebrities to tell me their deepest darkest secrets it felt quite natural to set up interviews where we got them to talk about how they express themselves and how they deal with life’s challenges. As the years and events have passed by we have gathered some excellent material that is viewed by hundreds via our YouTube channel. The material has also been used by Cream, the DJs and within CALM’s promo material. Our success at Cream led us to be asked by Liverpool Sound City to cover their event, which was really great for CALM and team morale. We have a huge team involved now and I am proud to have trained up some new presenters that have been doing a sterling job and have definitely picked up some Anstey interrogation skills.
Life can be hard and it is even harder to feel that you are good enough and important.
I take this role very seriously and am very enthusiastic with getting our message across. As CALM’s tagline says “Being silent isn’t being strong” and I have certainly found my strength by talking to others about my own experience and the techniques I have learnt. Techniques that have helped me survive the shit times enabled me to grow as a person, know my self worth and rediscover my love of love again. I understand how losing someone will never leave you but I also understand the importance of moving on with your own life in their honour. Something that all friends and family struggle with and by sharing my own experience I hope to show others the way and be there to support their own journey.
Claire Anstey tells her story here. Check out a selection of some of her best interviews below too.