The family of a Sunderland teenager who took his own life have raised thousands of pounds for mental health charities in his honour.
Following his tragic death, his mum, Jessica Talbot, 42, has been raising awareness about young people’s mental health and encouraging them to speak to someone.
And around the time Keaton would have turned 22, his family held a fundraising event at Sunderland’s Roker Hotel on Friday, November 5.
Around 90 prizes were donated, mostly from local businesses, which were raffled off, and donations flooded in from Jessica’s daughter’s dance school and Wearside Audi where Keaton had an apprenticeship.
Thanks to the generosity of local businesses and people an incredible £7,040 was raised for Sunderland Mind and Chester-le-Street based If U Care Share.
Jessica said: “We originally planned it for November last year on what would have been Keaton’s 21st birthday but because of Covid, we pushed it back to May and then November.
“All together we had 90 prizes and most of them did come from businesses.
“A lot of people were asking if I had a target in mind but I really hadn’t thought of it. I was really shocked by how much we raised.
“It was bittersweet really obviously the amount of money we raised is amazing but at the same time, Keaton should be here with us.”
Guests enjoyed plenty of entertainment and music as loved ones gathered to remember the “funny and kind” the teenager.
His mum added: “Keaton was really funny. He was always telling his friends that we would be there for them if they ever wanted to talk, he was a really good friend.
“Even though he was always a joker he was so kind and had a really big heart.”
Jessica is now encouraging young people who may be struggling to seek help.
She said: “The charities help people who have been affected by suicide but they also do lots of work around intervention and prevention.
“So if families or parents have any worries or concerns they can get help too.
“I wanted to raise money for local charities because the North East has one of the highest rates of suicide.
“I think a lot of young people don’t realise there are organisations that can help.
“It’s really difficult as a young person when they leave school and go to college, a lot of them don’t know which direction to go in, it’s especially hard with unemployment in the area.”
For confidential support from volunteers, including for suicidal thoughts, Samaritans can be contacted free, on 116 123 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
In the North East, If U Care Share Foundation supports those bereaved by suicide and works towards suicide prevention.
Anyone experiencing mental health problems should also contact their GP for help.