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MP tells of homophobic death threat and self-doubt before suicide attempt

An MP who recently shared his experience of a suicide attempt in the House of Commons has revealed he received a homophobic death threat in the months before.

Elliot Colburn, the Conservative MP for Carshalton and Wallington, opened up about the self-doubt that plagued him during his 2021 ordeal.

In an interview with the Times, the 31-year-old said: “I became very irritable with people. I shut myself away.

“The thing that I was telling myself, which was that I was on my own and no one wanted to be around me, I was making happen.”

He had recently been sent a letter threatening his life which “brought in Jed”, his partner at the time.

Mr Colburn said that while MPs are increasingly getting such threats and “accept it”, “you don’t accept it on behalf of other people”.

One day in December, he got up “feeling as bad as I’ve felt for the last few months”, adding “there was something about that day which was so gloomy”.

The thought that “no one wants me here” preoccupied him at a constituency event, and he went to his mother’s home early.

After lying in bed for hours overwhelmed by negative thoughts, “something snapped” and he “wrote a note saying sorry”.

Mr Colburn continued: “And then did something very stupid and completely broke down. It didn’t work. I made such a ruckus that my mum and one of my brothers came upstairs to find out what all the noise was about.

“They saw what I tried to do and the rest of the family were called, an ambulance was called, and then I went into hospital.”

He received specialist psychological treatment at Springfield Hospital for several days and was given antidepressants “as strong as you can have”, followed by daily visits from NHS psychiatric professionals.

His brother told the Tory whip he would not be coming to work, with Mr Colburn saying that “those two worlds colliding was odd”.

His recovery “wasn’t a straight line”, Mr Colburn added, but said he began gradually returning to work after more help.

He said he was “well looked after”, but realised many other struggle to receive mental health support and wanted to share his experience to show others considering taking their life that “help is out there”.

There was also a personal motivation: “That day was so horrible that the fear of feeling that way almost puts a fire in me to never get back to that point.”

He only decided to tell his story at Wednesday’s Prime Minister’s Questions that morning, telling the newspaper: “I was probably more nervous than in my maiden speech.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer afterwards told him it was “very brave” and would hopefully “make a difference”, while Prime Minister Rishi Sunak had been caught off-guard.

Mr Colburn said: “He did say to me privately afterwards, ‘Oh my gosh, I was a bit blindsided, I didn’t know how I should respond’. Bless him.”

Health Secretary Victoria Atkins and a mental health minister have since approached him about the Government’s strategy to reduce suicide rates.

– If you need support, Samaritans can be reached on the free helpline 116 123 or via email at jo@samaritans.org.