Heart-shaped hands and flame candle in darkness

Saying goodbye to Beth Matthews

Or #Spiritanimal

Trigger warning of suicide – The last picture Beth Matthews posted on her Twitter account was of her wearing some very fluffy slippers and drinking a lager at 4.30am.

When I saw that picture I was happy that she seemed to be seeing the bright side of life in her mental health unit.

Heart-shaped hands and flame candle in darkness
Beth Matthews story didn’t end the way anyone hoped it would but in the time she was here she had a massive impact on the world (“Heart-shaped hands and flame candle in darkness” by wuestenigel is marked with CC BY 2.0.)

I declared her to be my spirit animal because who doesn’t want to be sitting drinking beer in the middle of the night when they can’t sleep?

But in truth she had always been my spirit animal ever since I first stumbled across her blog about how she survived a suicide attempt.

That was back when I was living in Islington. After a not great day at work I was going to go outside but instead found her blog and read every single entry.

A lot of the time it was heartbreaking but I knew there was hope because she was alive and tweeting about her experiences.

One particular day I remember crying when I saw a tweet she’d posted with pictures of her meeting a police officer who had saved her life.

Her tweets were always very honest about how she was feeling and, in being so, I believe she helped thousands of people around the world.

They were able to realise that they weren’t the only ones to be struggling, not the only ones to be wondering how to cope.

But after a final tweet in March about how she was in a really dark place and couldn’t see a way out, there were no other tweets.

I wanted to believe that this was because she’d either forgotten her password or had just been too busy recovering to post anything on social media.

But on Friday I discovered what I feared I would when I looked at her boyfriend’s Twitter account from March and April.

Beth had died on March 21, with her funeral held on April 13.

If I’d known about it back then I would have travelled down to Cornwall for the funeral, to tell her family just how many lives she’d touched around the world.

And on Friday night I spent a lot of time Googling how to get a train to Saltash in Cornwall because I feel I need to visit her grave to say goodbye, even though I never met her.

It may seem a strange thing to do, but I think through her writing about her experiences Beth became an important part of my life at a critical time.

She will always be my spirit animal and I’ll never forget what an impact she had.

It won’t bring their loved one back but I hope that her family take some comfort from knowing that she helped so many people across the world.

Beth’s family and friends have set up a fundraising page to raise money for the Devon Air Ambulance, which saved Beth’s life in 2019.

For emotional support, you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email jo@samaritans.org, visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.

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