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Pembrokeshire mum shares photos of her brain-damaged son

A devastated mother has shared the heart-breaking photographs of her brain-damaged son after he ‘died’ for ten minutes when he hanged himself.

Helen Barnes says her son Jack, 19, was found hanging in a woodland by police before they cut him down and started CPR.

He then was rushed to hospital and placed in an induced coma for two weeks.

Now the mother-of-three, who gave up her job to spend every day with her ‘vegetative’ son, has made the difficult decision to share photos of Jack’s journey in a bid to show the devastating impact of mental illness.

He is pictured in hospital with his mother Helen

Jack Barnes (pictured left with his sister Lucy and right in hospital) is now severely brain damaged after trying to take his own life

Jack was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder at the age of 15 but after three years of monthly group therapy he appeared to turn a corner and went back to college.

But Ms Barnes was immediately worried when she heard the front door open and close at 9.30pm on March 4 and minutes later Jack texted saying, ‘I have just popped out. Don’t worry xxx’.

As it was out of character for Jack to leave home alone, Ms Barnes called Dyfed Powys Police and the teen’s lifeless body was found hanging in a woodland at around 10:30pm. 

The former support worker, of Pembroke Dock, Pembrokeshire, said: ‘As soon as I got that text from Jack, I knew something was wrong.

‘He never just popped out or put kisses in his texts. I didn’t want to overreact because he had been doing so well so I called the police non-emergency line.

‘But knowing his mental health problems, they raised it as an emergency. They then found him in a woodland.

‘The first officer cut him down and started doing CPR. I could never thank her enough, she saved my son’s life.

Jack Barnes, 19, was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder at the age of 15 but after three years of monthly group therapy he appeared to turn a corner and went back to college

Jack is pictured having physiotherapy

Jack Barnes, 19, was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder at the age of 15 but after three years of monthly group therapy he appeared to turn a corner and went back to college

‘The police took me and Jack’s twin sister Lucy to the hospital and when the doctors told us Jack had hung himself I passed out from the shock. Lucy told me she heard my head ricochet off the hospital floor.

‘When I came too, I thought that was it, I thought I’d lost Jack. And I felt like a complete failure that I hadn’t called 999. He had just been so great for so long.

‘No mother should have to see their child in intensive care, hooked up to all those machines. It was absolutely heartbreaking.

‘And after the pain of having to accept that my son wanted to die and spending every day at his bedside praying that he wouldn’t, we found out he will live but with no quality of life. It was devastating.

‘Jack’s body was deprived of oxygen for so long that he will be in a vegetative state for the rest of his life.

‘He will never eat again, speak again, he will never have a girlfriend, get married, have kids or have any independence. To know that as his mum is awful, every day is a battle to keep going.

But his mother Helen was immediately worried when she heard the front door open and close at 9.30pm on March 4 and minutes later Jack texted saying, 'I have just popped out. Don't worry xxx'. Jordan Arthur, Ms Barnes, Lucy and Jack are all pictured together

But his mother Helen was immediately worried when she heard the front door open and close at 9.30pm on March 4 and minutes later Jack texted saying, ‘I have just popped out. Don’t worry xxx’. Jordan Arthur, Ms Barnes, Lucy and Jack are all pictured together

‘We have always had this saying in our house that ‘mum’s hugs fix everything’ but they won’t fix this, no matter how hard I try.’

After his suicide attempt, Jack remained in intensive care at Withybush Hsopital in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, until June 1 when he was transferred to a neuro rehab unit at Neath Port Talbot Hospital in Wales.

At the rehab centre Jack has received ‘brilliant’ care and support with daily physiotherapy and speech therapy sessions.

Jack is also due to have surgery on his mouth as he has lost control of his jaw and often bites down on his own lip – once so hard he lost a tooth.

Although he will never be able to verbally communicate again, the doctors hope Jack will one day be able to operate a switch on a communication device and electric wheelchair.

Jack started to develop anger management issues at the age of 13 and over the next two years the outbursts spiralled out of control

He is pictured before the incident

Jack started to develop anger management issues at the age of 13 and over the next two years the outbursts spiralled out of control. He is pictured before the incident

And by the age of 18, Jack appeared to have battled his demons, studying electrical installation and making plans to travel the world and do an apprenticeship

And by the age of 18, Jack appeared to have battled his demons, studying electrical installation and making plans to travel the world and do an apprenticeship

Eventually, Ms Barnes’ house will be adapted so that Jack can move back home and the mum has set up a gofundme page called Jack’s Fund to raise money to buy special sensory equipment for her son.

But the teen’s progress is very slow and in almost eight months Jack can only just move his hands from an armrest into his lap and blink once for ‘no’ and twice for ‘yes’.

Ms Barnes’ revealed that when she asks Jack now if he still wants to die, her son will blink twice – something she fears will never change.

She said: ‘So much has happened. Jack spent two weeks on a breathing machine, he had to have a tracheostomy, he has fought off sepsis, he has developed epilepsy.

‘The only reason he has survived is because he is so young and has a strong heart but he’s still got a lot more to go through.

‘It is horrendous to see him like this. He doesn’t need to be able to speak for me to see that he’s in pain. I’m so frightened that him wanting to die will never change.

For reasons his mother and siblings will never truly know, the teen decided to hang himself - a tragedy that has had a catastrophic impact on him and his family 

For reasons his mother and siblings will never truly know, the teen decided to hang himself – a tragedy that has had a catastrophic impact on him and his family 

‘The care and support we have had has been brilliant. And as much as I can’t wait to bring him home, the idea of not having that support around is scary.

‘Jack will live with me until the day I die. Thinking about what will happen after that is terrifying.’

Jack started to develop anger management issues at the age of 13 and over the next two years the outbursts spiralled out of control.

He would take out his rage by trashing rooms, cutting himself and punching walls to purposely break his hands.

But when Jack wasn’t in a fit of rage, he was a loving and shy son and brother to his twin sister Lucy, 19, and brother Jordan Arthur, 16.

After his first suicide attempt at the age of 15, Jack received dialectical behaviour therapy, a type of talking treatment.

And by the age of 18, Jack appeared to have battled his demons, studying electrical installation and making plans to travel the world and do an apprenticeship.

After his suicide attempt, Jack remained in intensive care at Withybush Hsopital in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire

On June 1 when he was transferred to a neuro rehab unit at Neath Port Talbot Hospital in Wales

After his suicide attempt, Jack remained in intensive care at Withybush Hsopital in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, until June 1 when he was transferred to a neuro rehab unit at Neath Port Talbot Hospital in Wales

But for reasons his mother and siblings will never truly know, the teen decided to hang himself – a tragedy that has had a catastrophic impact on him and his family.

Ms Barnes said: ‘Jack’s outbursts were terrifying. I remember the first time I got a call from his school to say he’d punched a wall I just thought ‘that’s not my Jack’. It was so unlike him.

‘He is so loving and caring. While his twin sister is a social butterfly Jack is very insular. He has a small group of friends but he’d rather shut himself away in his room to play Xbox than go out.

‘But when he has one of his meltdowns he would trash his room, cut himself, put his fist through walls and windows.

Ms Barnes said: 'He is so loving and caring. While his twin sister is a social butterfly Jack is very insular. He has a small group of friends but he'd rather shut himself away in his room to play Xbox than go out'

His progress is very slow and in almost eight months Jack can only just move his hands from an armrest into his lap and blink once for 'no' and twice for 'yes'

Ms Barnes said: ‘He is so loving and caring. While his twin sister is a social butterfly Jack is very insular. He has a small group of friends but he’d rather shut himself away in his room to play Xbox than go out’

‘When he was 18 we thought he had turned a corner, we thought he had dealt with it.

‘We will never know the reason Jack did what he did. It has taken its toll on all of us. It has been horrendous but we can’t go back now.

‘I just hope that by sharing his story, I can encourage people to talk more about their mental health and stop other kids going through what Jack has.’

A Heddlu Defyd Powys Police spokeswoman said: ‘Concerns were raised for an individual’s welfare at around 10.30pm on Saturday, March 4 2017.

‘Officers located an 18-year-old male in Saundersfoot and he was taken to hospital.’

Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board, who are responsible for Neath Port Talbolt Hospital, could not comment on an individual case.

A spokeswoman said: ‘While we cannot comment on specific cases we are always happy to receive feedback from families.’

  • For confidential support call the Samaritans on 116123 or visit a local Samaritans branch, see www.samaritans.org for details. 

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