‘If we can save just one life...’ Hartlepool sisters’ campaign after dad’s suicide

Paul Rogerson
Paul Rogerson

Two sisters from Hartlepool have launched an internet campaign to try to save men from suicide - after their dad tragically took his own life.

Emma and Toni remember their dad, town taxi driver Paul Rogerson, as a man full of life and laughter who loved barbecues, and belting out Oasis and Bon Jovi on karaoke.

But two years ago, out 
of the blue, Paul took his own life at the age of 
just 40.

Emma and Toni, who were just 15 and 17, were left reeling from his sudden and unexpected death.

Now they have created a viral film as part of a campaign to raise awareness of the high risk of suicide among middle aged men to prevent similar tragedies.

Emma, now 17 and a business student, said: “Dad always walked into the room with a joke.”

Emma and Toni Rogerson

Emma and Toni Rogerson

Nineteen-year-old Toni, an engineering student, added: “I was a real Daddy’s girl, we even had our own handshake.”

The girls had bereavement counselling, and have been supported by friends and family.

Their short film See The Signs – Save A Life has been made with the help of the national charity Fixers which helps young people to campaign.

It features an actor, around the same age as Paul, as he exhibits small signs that something may be wrong.

Emma and Toni also feature in the film as they come to his aid which is on YouTube.

Toni said: “Looking back, we can see that there were subtle signs.

“Dad started acting a little differently, shortly before he died.

“He told Emma and I that he loved us.

“He wasn’t eating, he had very little motivation and was making excuses to get out of things.”

The girls were unaware that Paul had previously been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after serving in the army, and was once hospitalised with severe depression.

Toni added: “The night before he died, Dad came into my room and told 
me ‘I love seeing you 
happy’.”

The next morning, Paul booked himself a doctor’s appointment, but when his name was called out, he fled the surgery.

Concerned, the surgery contacted his family, who alerted the police.

Tragically it was too late and Paul’s body was found hours later.

It later emerged, he had left his wallet at home, turned off his phone and deactivated his Facebook account before setting off that day.

Emma added: “We lost our grandad last year to cancer, but the grief is 
totally different.

“We were able to prepare and say goodbye.

“We never had that chance with Dad.”

“Filming the scene in my flat, where we comforted the actor, was overwhelming.

“But when I saw the finished film, I was so proud I cried.

“I really hope we can help to minimise the number of suicides.

“People don’t have to end their lives, to end a difficult situation.

“There is always help out there.

“I’d advise anyone who is suffering to open up – it’s not a shameful thing.”

Emma and Toni said: “If we can save just one life, all this work and pain will be worth it.”

Their film was launched at a Fixers event in London.

Veteran broadcaster and Fixers president Sir Martyn Lewis said: “Toni and Emma have suffered a terrible personal loss at a young age, but have chosen to turn their tragedy into a national campaign, to try to help others and prevent others from taking their own lives.”

The film has since 
been shown at Newcastle Arts Centre to an audience of education, charity and healthcare decision 
makers.