Putting us in the picture about the impact of suicide

Pictured is artist Rachel Dobbs, who is exhibiting her work at Long Buckby Library, to create awareness of the Maytree charity.
Pictured is artist Rachel Dobbs, who is exhibiting her work at Long Buckby Library, to create awareness of the Maytree charity.

After losing a family member to suicide on New Year’s Day 2012 a Long Buckby artist is trying to raise awareness of a charity close to her heart.

Rachel Dobbs, 46, hopes to raise the profile of the Maytree Charity, an organisation in the Daventry district acting as a sanctuary for those experiencing suicidal thoughts.

She said: “My brother-in-law Rem (Remko Heezen) hung himself at the age of 42.

“He’d had a hard 12 months after my mum passed away from cancer and he lost his job working for Levis so was unemployed.

“He had been going to his GP but had had a run of bad luck with doctors swapping or being on leave so he didn’t have any consistency and there weren’t the resources around here to help him.”

Rachel said that although Rem didn’t have children of his own he had been an amazing uncle to her two teenage girls who were devastated by his death.

She said: “He was the kind of uncle who would just pick the girls up and take them to Alton Towers, he was spontaneous and fun and it’s been horrific for them since he died.”

Mrs Dobbs said there was very little in the way of support for anyone considering suicide in the area and that those resources that are available are much too general to deal with the specific thoughts and feelings associated with that kind of mental illness.

It was only after Rem died that Mrs Dobbs found the Maytree charity, based in London, which provides respite care for crisis suicide situations.

She said: “I am not naive enough to think if I had found it sooner this wouldn’t have happened and Rem wouldn’t have died, but he could have done with the support from such a good charity.

“Now I hope to raise awareness of this charity for anyone who may need it. I also hope to contact local GPs and give them more information about the charity so they might be able to refer patients to it or to make them aware of their 24-hour phone service.”

Mrs Dobbs is utilising her skills as an artist to raise the profile of the charity and is currently staging an exhibition, on Saturday at the Long Buckby Library.

Following Rem’s death she attended an art therapy event which rekindled her love of painting and helped her come to terms with her loss.

She said: “Rem’s death opened an opportunity which has become my saving grace.

“It has helped me to do something positive in Rem’s memory and allowed me to raise awareness locally of the fact that people who feel depressed and suicidal can seek help.”

With the support of her partner and daughters Mrs Dobbs devoted all her spare time to producing a collection of 60 modern abstract works.

Painted with kebab sticks rather than brushes Mrs Dobbs’ unique work will be on display at the library for a month with a proportion of the sales going to the Maytree charity.

She has already won huge acclaim among artistic circles for her varied range of objects and animals and her style.

For more information about Rachel Dobbs visit Long Buckby Library or www.rachdobzart.co.uk.

The Maytree Charity is based in Finsbury Park in London. Its aim is to overcome immediate suicidal crises and as such offer a free four-night stay in their respite centre.

The charity suggests calling or emailing about yourself or someone you’d like to refer as a first step.

Contact is confidential and lines are open for calls and emails 24 hours a day.

Maytree can be contacted on 020 7263 7070 or via email on maytree@maytree.org.uk.