1. ITV Report

The families raising awareness after losing loved ones to suicide

Two grieving families who lost loved ones to suicide have spoken for the first time about their heartache in the hope it will encourage men suffering in silence to seek help.

The families Josh LLwyd Hopcroft and actor and musician Dafydd Dafis have shared their experiences with current affairs programme Y Byd ar Bedwar.

Dion has taken on a gruelling 24 hour non-stop walk along the Wales coastal path to raise money for Josh’s Treehouse Project. Credit: Y Byd ar Bedwar

Josh's story

On the 29th of February last year Dion LLwyd Hopcroft who volunteers with Aberglaslyn Mountain Rescue mobilized his team to help search for a young man who had gone missing from the family home.

It was Dion’s youngest son, Josh.

We were worried that Josh had fallen and hurt himself. There was no sign of him that night and the weather was really rough.

By 5am the next day there was still no sign of Josh and I obviously couldn’t sleep. I went out with the dogs, I was searching for two hours. The next thing the dogs pulled me into woodland and there was Josh. And that’s when our lives changed forever.

– Dion LLwyd Hopcroft
Josh's family are hoping to raise awareness about male suicide. Credit: Y Byd ar Bedwar

Josh had hanged himself. He was 18 years old.

An outwardly happy and outgoing young man Josh’s death came without warning.

The family have now embarked on a campaign to raise awareness of issues surrounding grief and suicide awareness.

Back in October Dion took on a gruelling 24 hour non-stop walk along the Wales coastal path to raise money for Josh’s Treehouse Project.

The Treehouse will offer a space for people affected by grief to share their problems with others or speak to a professional counselor.

Dion explained: “I feel strongly that I’d like to give something back to people who’ve helped us over the last few months since we lost Josh.”

Suicide is the biggest killer of men under the age of 45 in the UK.

According to the latest figures from the Samaritans there were 350 recorded suicides in Wales in 2015, three quarters of these were carried out by men.

In June this year at an inquest in Caernarfon into four separate cases of suicides coroner Dewi Pritchard Jones said he was on average dealing with one case of suicide per week, all of them men.

Dafydd's story

One of the cases was of well known actor and musician Dafydd Dafis whose body was found in Menai Bridge back in April. He was 58 years old.

His brother Rhys Davies told Y Byd ar Bedwar: “It was completely shocking to hear the coroner say that and it is difficult to comprehend that so many men are taking their own lives.

Dafydd Davis was a well-known actor and musician.

I hope that by taking part in this programme Dafydd’s story goes some way to prevent other families going through the same thing. I’m sure it will happen to to other people, but if it helps just one person or encourages them to seek help then that’s something.

– Rhys Davies

Dafydd Dafis was well known to viewers of S4C throughout the 80s and the 90s thanks to his appearances in popular dramas like Rownd a Rownd, Tipyn o Stad and Pen Talar.

Despite his success on the small screen and for winning acclaim for his work in the theatre and as a musician he had suffered with depression for many years.

The illness took hold over a long period of time and no one really noticed how bad he was until he became very withdrawn. He would often disappear and he would sleep out all night. No one knew if he was with friends or was sleeping rough. Although he is gone I’m very proud the legacy his talent has left us.

– Rhys Davies

Y Byd ar Bedwar will be broadcast tonight at 9:30pm on S4C. On screen subtitles are available.