AS THE first anniversary of the death of a man from Oswestry approaches, his mother has paid tribute to him in the hope of raising awareness of suicide in young people.

Sher Mills’ son Tomos – a former Rhyn Park School pupil and RAF engineer – took his own life on July 11, last year, by stepping out onto the railway line in Weston Rhyn, aged just 26.

Although Tom, who is described by Sher as being “quiet with a wicked sense of humour,” “a brilliant uncle” and “a gentle giant”, had a seemingly envious life, he had reached out to a counselling service just three months prior to his death.

“He had distanced himself during the last six to 12 months,” she told the Advertizer, “He’d made new friends – cutting everybody off slowly.

“He wasn’t sleeping well and wasn’t eating well, but we didn’t realise at the time.

“We need to blow the stereotype out of the water of somebody who takes their own life.

“Because Tom was still functioning and was mild-mannered, he didn’t fit the stereotype so he was put on a waiting list – they didn’t hear the desperation in his voice.

“We ask people to drive safely and be careful at work, but I never asked him ‘How’s your brain?’ We don’t ask these things but we need to. It is a silent killer.”

She has now began fundraising in Tom’s memory for Papyrus – a charity dedicated to the prevention of young suicide – with the aim of reaching out to more people who may need support and educating people about the sometimes subtle signs that someone is suicidal.

Suicide is the main cause of death in young people – male and female – under the age of 35 in the UK, more than three quarters being boys or young men.

There are also more than 200 school children lost to suicide each year, according to facts listed on Papyrus’ website.

Rosemary Vaux, press officer for the charity, said: “It’s very scary to mention the word suicide, but by asking questions you’ve told the person you’re safe to talk to.

“We need to talk about it or we’re feeding into the stigma. It’s stigma that stops people seeking help.”

Sher is determined to raise awareness so that another family does not go through what they have after the loss of Tom, a keen golfer and lover of all sports, who at the time of his death was working as an engineer at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital.

“Something positive has to come from this. I want to keep Tom’s memory alive,” she added.

“That crucial first contact with somebody could literally be a matter of life or death.

“People’s intentions are good but more training is needed and compassion – I don’t want there to be any more ‘Toms’.”

Sher is now hoping to get local businesses on board that could help display posters and Papyrus’ contact details in men’s toilets around Oswestry and surrounding areas.

If you would like to help spread awareness in the area please contact Sher on

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