'Don't be afraid to talk about depression', says wife of doctor who took his life
PUBLISHED: 14:21 20 December 2019 | UPDATED: 14:21 20 December 2019
The wife of a popular Felixstowe doctor who took his own life at Christmas six years ago has spoken about how her family have coped with their loss, and urged others struggling with depression not to try to hide it.
Former GP Richard Bennett, who practiced at Haven Health in the town from 1996 until 2006 and went on to help asylum seekers at the Refugee Council in Ipswich, took his own life on December 30 aged just 56.
The popular Felixstowe Road Runners member, who was described as the "lovely, warm funny soul of the party" had suffered from depression for many years but had not been willing to talk about his struggles.
Now, wife Annabel Bennett, 55, has spoken about how her family tackled their grief in the hope others can be more confident to come forward about their own mental health battles - and that others will recognise the signs.
Mrs Bennett said: "Richard suffered from depression for many years and was ashamed of his illness. He didn't talk freely about it with many people and that's why I am keen to raise awareness.
"The warning signs were there before Richard took his own life, but it was still such a shock. It's so important to take notice of the people around you, your colleagues, family and friends.
"The first Christmas after his death, I said I couldn't be in the house, so me and my daughters went to Venice. Now, we go away every year for a week at the end of December. It's all about celebrating his life and making new memories.
"We still think about him all the time, but we unite as a family to help each other together. I now volunteer four hours a week with Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide to help other people affected."
Since his death, the Richard Bennett Felixstowe Coastal Race was named in his honour to raise money for local mental health charity Suffolk Mind, this year making £1,000.
Mrs Bennett added: "Richard and I were both part of the Felixstowe Road Runners - he was a really good runner himself. He always encouraged people and supported them with their hobby, he was very well thought of at the club.
"It is absolutely lovely to see everyone come together to remember him. People say 'I want to help as I knew Richard' and so many of them run simply because they were so fond of him."
Suffolk Mind community fundraising coordinator Lizzy Tuthill said: "We are so grateful to Annabel and the Felixstowe Road Runners for raising money and awareness for Suffolk Mind, we were so pleased to be part of the fantastic event.
"Money such as this helps us in our mission of making Suffolk the best place in the world for talking about and taking care of mental health."