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'It has destroyed us' - family of teenager who took his own life urge others to talk about mental health

PUBLISHED: 11:48 22 October 2019

Conor Manly, who died aged 18 in October 2018, with his sister Courteney Manly. Picture: SENT IN BY TRACY SNOWDEN

Conor Manly, who died aged 18 in October 2018, with his sister Courteney Manly. Picture: SENT IN BY TRACY SNOWDEN

SENT IN BY TRACY SNOWDEN

He was a typical teenager who loved playing football and cricket and riding his motorbike.

Conor Manly, 18, who died in October 2018. Picture: SENT IN BY TRACY SNOWDENConor Manly, 18, who died in October 2018. Picture: SENT IN BY TRACY SNOWDEN

But after two years of mental health problems, 18-year-old Conor Manly took his own life and was found in woodland in October 2018, after he went missing from home for two days.

Assistant coroner Nigel Parsley recorded a conclusion of suicide.

Family and friends of Conor Manly, 18, from Mattishall, who died in October 2018. They did a skydive for Norfolk and Waveney Mind and raised over �3,000. The picture includes Mr Manly's sister, Courteney Manly, 18, front right, and an extended family member, Tracy Snowden (second from right on back row). Picture: Norfolk and Waveney MindFamily and friends of Conor Manly, 18, from Mattishall, who died in October 2018. They did a skydive for Norfolk and Waveney Mind and raised over �3,000. The picture includes Mr Manly's sister, Courteney Manly, 18, front right, and an extended family member, Tracy Snowden (second from right on back row). Picture: Norfolk and Waveney Mind

Over a year after his death, Mr Manly's sister, Courteney Manly, 18, from Back Lane in Mattishall, near Dereham, is urging people to talk more about mental health and be kinder to each other.

Miss Manly said: "Conor was always so funny and bubbly. Once you got to know him he would always make you smile. He was really caring.

"Mental health problems are a real thing. It does happen to lots of people. It isn't a joke. There needs to be a change to stop someone going through the same pain our family is going through. It has destroyed us. There is a big hole in our family.

"If you see someone in the street. Just smile at them. That could make someone's day."

During the summer Miss Manly, friends and family members of the former Dereham Neatherd High School pupil completed a tandem skydive at Beccles Airfield in aid of Norfolk and Waveney Mind which provides mental health support.

The brave group of six, aged between 16 and 65, raised over £3,590 for the charity.

Miss Manly, a domiciliary carer, said: "Things are changing but there needs to be so much more money put into mental health and organisations like Norfolk and Waveney Mind.

"The skydive was amazing. I'm so pleased that so much money could be raised. It was worth it."

The skydive fundraiser attracted online donations including one from Sir Norman Lamb, Liberal Democrat MP for north Norfolk, who has set up a mental health and wellbeing fund.

It also received funding from national company City Facilities Management.

Miss Manly, who believed there was still a stigma over people, especially young men, talking about their mental health, said: "Let out your emotions. Talking is the best thing. It is important to let young men know it is quite normal to not be ok."

For help and support visit www.norfolkandwaveneymind.org.uk. Alternatively call the Samaritans 24/7 free helpline on 116123 or visit www.samaritans.org.

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