A grieving mum has opened up about the heartbreak of losing her “perfect” son who tragically took his own life at just 20-years-old.
Liane Shield’s world fell apart when her eldest son Jack Watson unexpectedly took his life on August 31 leaving his family devastated.
The hardworking son had a good job, a loving family and plenty of friends and showed no signs that he was struggling with his mental health.
Now his brave mum Liane is sharing her story in a bid to raise awareness of the devastating impact of suicide and to encourage those struggling to seek help.
Liane, 40, from Whickham in Gateshead, said: “There were no signs at all. He had a good job, he finished college, he had lots of friends. He went on a night out that weekend and his friends all said he seemed happy.
“He had a holiday booked to go to Turkey, he had bought a card for my dad’s 60th birthday, he had bought stuff for the week ahead.
“There was nothing at all to suggest that he was unhappy. This has come as a huge shock to everybody.
“He was always popular even from being in primary school and he’s carried some of them friends from nursery right the way through.
“When your child is going about their day to day life, you don’t think to sit them down to ask if they’re having suicidal thoughts or if they know how loved they are.
“I think it might help somebody to see the devastation this causes. When they feel at rock bottom if they feel like there’s no other way out, please just reach out.”
Jack leaves behind five siblings; Katie, 17, Matthew, 15, Lily, 13, Harriet, 9, and Molly 8.
The former Whickham School student dreamed about joining the British Army ever since he was a child and studied Uniformed Public Services at Newcastle College.
Liane said: “Every since he was little boy, Jack wanted to be a soldier in the British Army. We tried to dissuade him but that was always his dream. It was all he wanted to do.”
Liane said Jack was accepted into the army after he appealed their initial decision to reject him due to epilepsy.
After Jack took some time out for illness, Liane said he was told he had to reapply and was rejected for the second time.
Liane said her son always seemed happy and now wants to remind other people struggling that they are “loved”.
She said: “Outside the crematorium, there were so many people who were all just devastated I just wanted to scream out to Jack: ‘Look at how loved you are’ but it’s too late. We can’t bring him back.
“I just wish we could change the outcome for Jack but we can’t.
“I just want people to know that they are loved and cherished and that every single life matters.
“If this hadn’t happened to me and I was reading an article or seeing it on the news I would think that is awful for that family but I would never have thought it would have happened to me.
“You think this happens to other people. It’s like I’m living someone else’s life.
“I don’t have enough words to explain just how much devastation we all feel.
“If he had died through an accident or illness that would be hard enough but we would know it wasn’t his choice.”
Following Jack’s tragic death, Liane set up Jack’s Army to help raise money for the charity PAPYRUS Prevention of Young Suicide which supports young people at risk of suicide.
She said: “The charity can only do so much. It’s so difficult for charities because they have the help there if that person is able to reach out.
“Especially young men, a lot of them don’t talk about their feelings and it’s very difficult for the charity to be able to help them.”
Alongside partner David, Liane runs the business Tennis is Served which delivers tennis coaching for the local County Durham community.
Liane is also a Hiitstep instructor at Shotley and Benfieldside Tennis Club offering fun fitness classes.
To help raise money for charity, Liane is running a special Covid-secure Hiitstep class on Monday (October 26) which will also be live-streamed for people unable to attend.
The family also hope to hold a virtual run on the weekend of November 7 and 8 which will see people all over the world walking and running in Jack’s honour.
Liane said: “Before I started doing this I was just struggling to live without Jack, it was overwhelming, it was too much.
“I lost two stone in weight, I couldn’t hold a conversation, I couldn’t go out.
“Jack’s siblings are beyond broken. We’re all just struggling with day to day life. My whole world has fallen apart.
“I set up Jack’s Army because he was a massive Toon Army fan and always wanted to be in the army.
“I just knew I wanted to help other families to prevent them from going through what we’re going through.
“Seeing people talk about Jack and hearing how loved he was and feeling that need to raise awareness probably saved me.”
The family are dedicated to keeping Jack’s memory alive and said they will always keep on raising awareness to help others.
Liane said: “We will always keep going and keep raising money. We are the result, the devastation of suicide and we want to prevent other families from going through this.
“Jack was the funniest, the most loyal and hardworking person that anybody could meet. He worked so hard even in the bitter cold and saved up money in his account which we’ve decided to give to his siblings.
“I’d be thrilled to have him as an employee, I’d be lucky to have him as a friend and even luckier to have him as a best friend but he was the most perfect son.
“He set an example for his brothers and sisters. He was just perfect in every way and we miss him so much.”