WHEN best friends Abbie and Sophie met at school, they had no idea they would develop a rare bond born from suffering the same tragedy.

The carefree schoolgirls lives shattered when they both endured the ultimate heartache of losing a loved one to suicide.

Abbie Mitchell was just 14 when her mum Shelley took her own life after jumping from a block of flats.

There is only one word she can use to describe it: hell.

But two years ago, her closest friend Sophie Fiveash felt the same agony.

Her brother Aaron’s body was washed up on a beach three weeks after he disappeared from the family home.

Abbie and Sophie have an unbreakable bond that has pulled them through their darkest moments and now they are using that special friendship to give others hope.

The friends, who are both 26, have released a series of online video diaries called ‘Suicide Taboo and Life Without You’ to share their harrowing personal experiences in a bid to end the stigma surrounding suicide and mental health and encourage people to speak out and get support.

Sophie, said: “Suicide is a cruel death for family and friends to try to comprehend.

“We are in a unique situation. We’ve both been through both graphic and horrible suicides.

“People are so afraid of talking about death but we want to say, it’s part of life and it’s okay.

“I don’t think we could have done this if it hadn’t have happened to both of us. We have found strength in each other.”

Inseparable, Abbie and Sophie met at Twynham School when they were just 12.

“We’ve always done everything together. We were never apart at school and when we were, we were constantly messaging and being mischievous,” said Abbie.

Sophie remembers giggling on 5 May 2004 when police officers turned up at their school, joking they had come for Abbie.

However, they soon discovered the police were there for Abbie and her life was about to change in the most tragic way.

Her mum Shelley, 50, had jumped from a block of flats in Boscombe and medics were battling to save her life.

Abbie and her older brother were taken into a side room in hospital and were told to prepare for her mum to die.

“I started screaming,” she said.

“I remember feeling very raw and very vulnerable sat there in my school uniform.

“We went back to grandma’s and I remember sitting on a bench and I started praying out loud. I said ‘please God make sure she stays alive, even if she is in a wheelchair.’

“I wanted to look after her because she was my mum.”

Hours later Abbie got the news she most feared. Her mum had died.

Abbie, explained: “Everyone referred to me as mum’s shadow as I followed her everywhere. We looked similar too.

“She lit up a room.

“My favourite memory is dancing around her bedroom with her.

“It was typical mother and daughter stuff. Suddenly I realised she wasn’t going to be there anymore to see me grow up and to just be around.”

As a teenager, Abbie was first told her mum had fallen from a balcony but later learned she had taken her own life after battling from serious mental health issues which included previous suicide attempts forcing her to grieve twice.

Abbie, who now lives in London where she works for mental health charity Mind running a youth wellbeing project, explained: “I got sent from counsellor to counsellor but I couldn’t talk about my mum and her suicide.

“The pain comes from the lack of closure. You try so hard to find it and you’ll have so many questions like ‘why?’ ‘what if?’ but you won’t find closure even after years of searching for these answers. You will never know.

“It was only the last few years when I got therapy relating to my mum, I accepted it.”

However, just as Abbie began to come to terms with her loss, her world came crashing down a second time when best friend Sophie’s family suffered the same tragedy.

“I could not believe it. I thought ‘no, no, no, this can’t happen to you.’

“It is just hell,” said Abbie, who immediately got on the train to Bournemouth from London to be with her friend.

“I felt incredibly protective. Your life gets turned upside down. To have someone you love go through what you have been through is your worst nightmare.”

Just one week after Christmas in 2014, Sophie’s mum and dad called her asking her to come over to sit with her older brother Aaron, 36, who had behaved unusually over the weekend. He had spoken about hearing voices in his head and how he wanted to go to the sea.

The following morning Sophie arrived at the family home in Hengistbury Head to find Aaron had jumped from his bedroom window and had gone missing.

As reported in the Daily Echo, the county rallied together in a bid to find him.

Sophie, who now lives in Southbourne with her partner and hopes to become a counsellor, said: “It was totally surreal. The police were there, mum was in bits.

“Outside on the grass, you could see two footprints where he had landed from his fall. It was a comfort to see those imprints for a few weeks.

“We had no idea he was depressed, he was quiet. I was continuously thinking that he would just walk through the door.

“He was funny. He had a good sense of humour. We were like any other brother and sister messing around.

“To suddenly have someone missing from your life who shouldn’t be missing is indescribable.”

The hope of seeing him again turned to tragedy when three weeks later, the family were told his body had been washed up on a Southsea beach.

“You feel numb. I still can’t believe he’s gone,” said Sophie.

“Before, I used to go to the sea a lot just to chill out. It would really relax me. Now when I go to the sea I feel haunted.

“I imagine how he was feeling. I can’t get help thinking he felt that was the only way out.”

Sophie and Abbie are determined they will work together to highlight the importance of talking to friends and family whether suffering from depression or suffering grief.

Sophie, said: “I am a very closed person. I don’t normally say much about my feelings which is why I am doing this to say to people like me ‘let’s open up.’

Abbie, added: “Mental health and suicide is still a taboo subject. But we think about them every day. We love looking at pictures and talking about our happy memories.”

In the video blogs, the two friends will talk about the different aspects of suicide and mental health, sharing their own experiences and providing practical advice.

Abbie, who has lived with depression and anxiety, said: “Depression can take any shape or form. It can look like me or you. Even if someone is smiling and living everyday life, it doesn’t mean they may not be really struggling.

“For both of us, it was so sudden and we didn’t know the battles Aaron and my mum were facing.

“It was too late.

“We want to show people they are never alone. There is help and there is no need to feel ashamed.

“If we can help another family and save just one innocent lovely life, that would mean our losses aren’t in vain.”

To watch Sophie and Abbie's video diaries, search #suicidetabooandlifewithoutyou on YouTube.

For more information and advice contact:

Samaritans at samaritans.org or call the helpline on 116 123

Mind at mind.org.uk or call the infoline on 0300 123 3393

Depression Alliance at depressionalliance.org