Jean Costello knows only too well the deep impact a loved one’s death can have on a family.
The 48-year-old was left heartbroken when her son Stephen, 22, took his own life on Boxing Day in 2007 after suffering with his mental health.
His death came hours after he begged for help from staff at the Bede Wing – a mental health unit based within the grounds of South Tyneside District Hospital.
Struggling to cope with her own grief, she was still having to stay strong for her youngest son Jak, then aged eight, who had idolised his older brother as he was growing up.
Knowing he needed some sort of support to help him to cope, Jean borrowed library books on child bereavement, unable to find any other help.
It was only years later, when Jak started to become withdrawn at school, that she was offered help. Jean, from Auckland Avenue, South Shields, said: “When you lose someone it is the worst time of your life, and people shouldn’t be having to travel around to find support for their children.
“I tried to get help for Jak as I knew he needed support, but I couldn’t find anything.”
“A service of this kind is desperately needed in South Tyneside, somewhere where people know they can go to, to seek support and help, and I am proud to say I am doing this for my home town.”