Broadcaster, Producer and Writer Ollie Cole is well known locally as a popular former presenter on Radio Pembrokeshire.

What is less well known is that Ollie has suffered with mental health problems and even contemplated taking his own life.

Here, following the sad death of 14 year-old Megan Evans following cyber-bullying, Ollie talks passionately about the responsibility on all of us to do everything we can to prevent such tragedies in the future...

  • ONE in four people in the UK suffer from mental health issues each year.

I’m one of them. According to Ditch The Label, one in two people experience bullying at some point before their 20th birthday.

There were 6,581 suicides in the UK and Republic of Ireland in 2014.

If this is so common, why does it take the death of a 14 year-old girl for us to even speak as if it exists?

Milford Haven School pupil Megan Evans took her own life earlier this month, reportedly due to bullying from peers.

The word ‘bullying’ always gets thrown around as if it were just another part of growing up. But, as we’ve seen, it can kill.

As somebody who has suffered from mental health problems and has contemplated suicide many times myself, I know how dark a place the bullying Megan encountered must have driven her to, and how isolated it must have made her feel.

Through school, if you have a bad head or twist your ankle, the parents are called, you get a friend to sit with, and people care.

Why then, if a teenager is called a t**t, is pushed in the corridor, or spends every day eating their lunch on their own, does it seem like nobody does?

Of course the odd telling off or ‘word’ here and there may occur, but too often it’s brushed over and allowed to continue.

As a sufferer and ‘beater’ of clinical depression, of dark days and of suicidal thoughts, I’ve had enough.

It’s time that mental wellbeing was talked about like it was real, like it was common, and as if it were physical. It’s time to speak up and speak out.

I don’t simply mean that we should talk more about our feelings, and our dark times (even though we definitely should) - there are already lots of initiatives to encourage that such as Time To Talk Day.

Instead I mean that as well as that, we need to start calling out the behaviour and actions that damage a person's mental health, as though they were punches that caused broken jaws.

According to the NSPCC, bullying can occur due to a victim's gender, sexuality, race or household situation, amongst other reasons.

In Pembrokeshire, we have young people and families from right across those backgrounds. We are a diverse county, but differences can be picked on.

How many times in school did you hear a call of ‘GAAAAYY’ as an insult? (Yes, it’s 2017 and it still happens).

How many times have you seen a young person mocked for a disability, or for simply having a bad haircut by their peers?

Parents; how many times has your child badgered you for the new ‘thing’ because otherwise your son or daughter won’t be cool anymore?

When answering all of those questions, I know I’ve lost count.

These are all things that could, and do, have an impact on the groups most at risk of being bullied. Of course I understand free speech, but that doesn’t mean that that speech has to go unchallenged.

According to Megan’s mum, some of the bullying she encountered happened over Snapchat. This sucks.

There’s simply very little her mum could have done to stop it happening. It’s Megan’s social media, it’s full of Megan’s friends, and Snapchat messages only last for ten seconds. Messages that only lasted moments, have taken a life for good.

We need to start calling out and talking about this culture in ‘real life’, and online too. Posts on Facebook with in-jokes about depression, that I see shared regularly these days by young people I know, gain thousands upon thousands of ‘likes’. This matters.

This is thousands of real people, in their own way, calling out for help. This is a problem that needs solving. It’s up to us to solve it.

I realise there are some who will call ‘banter’ or ‘snowflake generation’ on all of this. But at what point did it become a bad thing for a generation to be more caring of others?

I have a gripe at times with the words “it’s only a joke, get over it”.

Every time you mock a person for something over which they have no choice for 'banter', somebody close to you suffering, a friend or family member, is reminded that they can no longer trust you enough to be open with you. To somebody you know, you become less of a friend. Remember it.

Parents - be open with your children, your friends, and your family.

Be honest with them if you’ve had a bad day, be honest with them if you’ve ever had a mental health problem.

Understanding what your kids are going through is a two-way street. If you open yourself up, they will start to also.

Teachers - stop letting ‘the odd comment’ or ‘it was just a joke sir/miss’ slip through the net.

Take it seriously, call it out, trust me it gets easier to do and it is so, so important. To that child you’ve protected, it will stick with them for the rest of their life.

All of us - speak up, and speak out.

Speak up when you have a problem, I promise somebody will be there to help, you are never truly alone, you are loved. Speak out against the things that damage yours and others mental health.

It’s worth it, and if people ask you why you do it, tell them it’s for us, the 1 in 4.

Tell them it’s for people like Megan. Tell them it’s because people, our friends, will keep on dying if we don’t."

  • Remember, if you’re having suicidal or depressive thoughts, you can get free, confidential support by calling Samaritans on 116 123.