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‘Devastated’ inquest families prompt journalist’s charity swim challenge

A journalist says her time reporting on inquests has influenced her decision to undertake a sea swimming challenge for a suicide prevention charity.

Elise Brewerton, deputy features editor at Portsmouth daily The News, is set to swim the Solent next month in aid of Samaritans.

Elise decided to undertake the challenge after witnessing families “devastated” by suicide tragedies while reporting on inquests for the newspaper.

She is aiming to raise £500 for the charity, and has currently raised more than £350 in sponsorship.

Elise Brewerton

In a piece explaining her decision to take on the challenge, Elise wrote: “I’d always wanted to be a journalist – a Lois Lane uncovering mysteries, shedding light on shady politicians. And I’ve done a fair bit of that – along with summer fairs and ruby wedding anniversaries. No cats stuck up trees though.

“But, as an aspiring reporter, I had no idea that a big part of my time would be spent at coroners’ courts.”

She added: “I’ve sadly witnessed so many families devastated by suicide who, when giving evidence at inquests say ‘We had no idea he was depressed’. Or ‘She never told us she was feeling so low’.

“Often, people who take their own lives simply cannot bring themselves to articulate the turmoil they are feeling. There is so much pressure to present a happy, beaming face to the world.

“But suicide is the biggest killer of men under the age of 50 in the UK.And three times more people die by taking their own lives than from road traffic accidents. Next month I’m swimming the Solent for Samaritans. It’s not far, just over a mile-and-a-quarter. And if I get tired I can tread water for a bit, take a breather.

“But so many people feel they are hardly managing to tread water and the only way out is suicide. Samaritans are there for when people are struggling to cope. Last year they received almost six million calls for help. Their vision is that fewer people die by suicide. I’m swimming to keep this amazing service going.”

Earlier this month, Elise was among 23 people to abseil down Portsmouth’s Spinnaker Tower in aid of Brain Tumour Research.

To sponsor her swim, click here.