ELAINE Gracey still has the last Christmas present her father gave her - just nine days before his death.
Elaine was 19 when her father Richard Gordon died of an overdose in 1995. He had given her a jumper on Christmas Eve but that was the last time she saw him alive.
The 39-year-old father-of-four had been living alone on the Cline Road at the time of his death, and his daughter said she still hasn’t truly come to terms with the way in which he died, almost 17 years after it happened.
“My mum and dad split up about a year before he died, but he had a new girlfriend and we all assumed he was happy,” the 36-year-old told the Leader. “Daddy was definitely of that generation where you didn’t talk about your feelings. He wouldn’t have talked about any problems he was having.”
On Christmas Eve Richard visited Elaine and her three siblings to deliver their presents. Elaine said he seemed happy and he talked about plans to go out and celebrate New Year’s Eve the following week.
At some point between that night and January 2 he passed away at home. “I was working over Christmas and didn’t really get a chance to visit but on the morning we found him I got a phonecall from one of daddy’s friends to say they hadn’t seen him in a while.
“I went to the house but there was no answer. I called the police and they had to kick the door down. On the third kick just as the door opened I somehow knew what I was going to find.
“He was lying in the bedroom and I asked police if I could see him. That is an image I will never forget. I think about it all the time.”
Elaine said the stigma of suicide meant her father was not really talked about much after his death. But she has appealed to others to be aware of the help available if they are feeling down or depressed.
“Suicide leaves behind so many unanswered questions for loved ones,” said the mother-of-two. “We don’t know the full story of why daddy did it. He had a family that loved him and I wish he had been able to tell us what was wrong. We will never have our questions answered.
“If anyone has feelings of depression I would urge them to pick up the phone and talk about how they are feeling,” said Elaine. “There are organisations that can help and it could save a family from such utter tragedy. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone else.”