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Suicide Stories

A tribute to Nick by his brother, Andrew Hayes

As part of Mental Health Awareness Month Revival is taking part in the Lost Hours Walk in aid of the suicide prevention charity CALM.  We are walking for all those lost to suicide and their families.  We have been personally touched by the loss of many known to Revival in recent months, so this is particularly emotive for us.  As part of our awareness campaign, we will be sharing the stories of those that have been intimately affected by suicide, talking about suicide is undoubtedly difficult and so we are particularly grateful to everyone that has contributed, your voices count and go a long way to challenging the stigma around this growing mental health crisis.

A tribute to Nick by his brother, Andrew Hayes

Nick Hayes was a man who radiated energy, intelligence, kindness and wit. His passing has left an impossible and aching void for all of us who knew him.  He battled fiercely with his bi-polar disease for the majority of his adult life but very tragically it all became too much to bare this April 2021, when suddenly and terribly he overdosed on prescribed medication.

He was so much more than a brother to me. He was an educational role-model, sporting hero, sibling confidante, intellectual sparring partner, fellow-gourmand and enrapturing raconteur.

He never allowed himself to be defined by the illness. He was an independent spirit who would relish the heat and fire of challenging the established norms, values and perspectives of British society. This inevitably led to occasional confrontations but often also made others pause to think and ponder.

Nick had an enormously successful career in education, working at some of the best schools across Kent teaching English literature and Media Studies. He rose to become an assistant head and was respected, loved and trusted by students and teachers alike. But then the stresses and strains became too much. He perhaps wanted to do too much and overstretched.

When his bipolar took hold we all saw the signs. He liked to provoke, prod and poke did our Nick. His illness could also be his engine in some ways. He never stood still, his mind working furiously on new poetry, short stories or grand plans for the future. This furnace of creativity sometimes burnt those around him and we could see the smoke signals belching into the air when he would fly high into the sky, buoyed by some fantastical new scheme, crusade or idea. Ultimately the flames could often engulf his own creative wings and he would eventually plummet down to planet earth to be caught by the reassuring arms of mum, dad, family and the NHS.

Then came the crippling lows in hospital and home. Silence and solitude followed as the medication took hold. Hours upon hours in bed. Hushed, awkward, painful introspection. Guilt. Self-loathing. The wild, untamed inferno of his manic episodes now extinguished. He was left at times desolate and dejected, alone to contemplate the blackened ruins of his manic episodes.

Nick’s battle was a battle against himself. We cannot imagine the torture of the internal struggles he must have endured so frequently.   We will never forget his beautiful troubled mind, his deep, everlasting love for his children and the laughs, smiles and raised eyebrows he brought us so frequently.  

Nick is survived by his son Ruben and daughter Florence and by all those he inspired in schools throughout Kent. As he would say, “if you want to sing out, sing out.”

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