More tragic news emerged yesterday from the community who lived in and around Grenfell Tower, as it came to light that at least 20 people who had survived or witnessed the devastating fire have since tried to commit suicide.
The figure, which was also reported by campaign group Justice4Grenfell was based on conversations with those helping the residents, although it has not been officially confirmed.
The distressing news came as former nurse and founder of the Silence of Suicide charity, Yvette Greenway, spoke to the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme. She said that many of those who had witnessed the fire at Grenfell Tower were suffering from ‘survivor guilt.’
And, worryingly, she doesn’t believe this is the end of the extreme behaviour that has been triggered by the tragic fire, which took at least 80 lives in June this year. ‘There are going to be many more instances of PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder], depression, anxiety and self-harming as people reach different stages of trauma,’ Greenway said. ‘Everybody will be affected at different times. We need long-term mental health provision for the next three decades at least – maybe longer.’
Another offshoot of these mental health concerns, she told the show, is that ‘there is a lot of alcohol and drug dependency. People are feeling isolated.’
As this information came to light yesterday, Prince William and Prince Harry were visiting the Support4Grenfell community hub, which they set up through their own mental health charity, Heads Together, in July. The hub aims to provide mental health resources for families – or individual parents and children – who were affected by the blaze.
During the visit the two young Royals met with many of the organisations who are helping in the aftermath of the fire, as well as community leaders and head teachers from local schools, all of whom are committed to maintaining support for the local community as it tries to move forward after the event. Given the new revelations about the delicate mental health of many of the survivors, this work being done by the wider network – which the Royals’ charity is part of – seems particularly important.
The Duchess of Cambridge was also due to attend the visit, but was forced to bow out of the engagement due to the extreme morning sickness she is suffering in her most recent pregnancy, which was announced by Kensington Palace officials this week.
Prince William had previously visited the community, along with the Queen, immediately after the fire in June when he spoke to and comforted those who had been directly affected by the tragedy. Prince Harry had also visited the British Red Cross volunteers who were coordinating donations to the Tower’s displaced residents.
The Samaritans – www.samaritans.org – are always available to listen if you feel you need a safe space to talk about your mental health.