IT'S well-known that certain issues aren’t discussed within families for various reasons. 

Among these, the death of a loved one is a topic which is often the most difficult to broach - the situation can never seem right and we just don’t want to raise negative issues during get-togethers. 

An topic that is even more difficult to bring up - in fact it can almost feel like a taboo subject - is a death caused by suicide. 

Now an actress and playwright from Stroud has spoken out about her family's experience of losing a loved one this way in the hope that more of us can talk about the issue and spread awareness. 

After older brother Phillip took his own life aged 27, it took Helen Wood’s family 32 years to finally speak about his death. 

She said: “When my brother died by suicide, it naturally had a big impact on the family. 

“But a silence soon descended and we never shared our feelings with each other. 

“It was when my father finally broke this silence that I had felt the initial inspiration to learn more about the circumstances surrounding Philip’s suicide.” 

Helen has written a dark reflective play in her brother's memory which is being performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this month. 

“In the play I talk about how the process of writing helped me to recall many special memories of my childhood," she said. 

“My brother Philip led me on all sorts of adventures, some tinged with danger but always exciting and confidence-building. 

“Our parents were also fairly adventurous and a typical family holiday was walking through mountainous European regions, carrying rucksacks and heading for the next youth hostel.  

“I hope that people who come to see the play will feel able to talk about its themes and suicide more generally afterwards.”

Last month, the play was performed for two nights at the Cotswold Playhouse in Stroud. 

The performances were in partnership with Stonehouse charity Sunflowers Suicide Support, which was founded by the family of Pete Morris.

“Sunflowers helps provides support to others who have been bereaved by suicide," she Helen. 

“As far as I’m aware there was no organisation like this available to me or my parents when my brother died."

Suicide is something that has touched many people, including Helen’s co-writer Gregor Hunt and director Derek Bond who was nominated for a Olivier Award this year for his production Dragons & Mythical Beasts. 

In 2020 nearly 5,000 suicides were registered in the UK.

The play will also work with Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide, when it is performed next at the fringe. 

They run in-person and virtual support groups, a telephone helpline and an online community forum. All are free to anyone affected by a suicide loss aged 18 years and over. 

Let’s Talk About Phillip runs until Sunday, August 28 (but not on Monday, August 15) at the Pleasance Courtyard in Edinburgh Fringe. 

Tickets are £12 during the week, £13.50 at weekends. 

Tickets are available at

Due to its themes of suicide and depression, the play is recommended for audiences aged 14 and over.

For more information see or Sunflowers Suicide Support