A 45-year-old widow from Northampton is urging tinnitus sufferers to seek support after her 'happy, healthy and fun loving' husband of 22 years committed suicide after battling the condition.
Linda Mitchell, 45, of Duston lost her spouse, Glen after he was suddenly struck down with tinnitus after attending a gig at their local pub back in 2011.
The condition triggered a mental health breakdown and just 12 weeks later, Glen took his own life.
She said: "I’d been married to Glen, who was a retired firefighter for 10 years but we’d been together for 22 and had a really happy life. He was a happy, healthy, fun loving bloke who was hard working, active and very fit. All that changed so quickly, it is almost hard to comprehend.
"As the tinnitus continued, Glen became exhausted. He cherished silence at bedtime but because of the various noises he was suffering from as well as ear pain and spasms, he was unable to sleep. This, combined with the anxiety that his tinnitus would never go away, contributed to a very rapid mental decline.
"We went on the internet for answers, which we found really unhelpful and it made Glen feel worse. There was just not the same level of trusted information about tinnitus available then like there is now. Eventually we went to our GP but we were too easily dismissed and not offered any support or advice about where to turn for the tinnitus or obvious levels of anxiety. Everyone just seemed disinterested and we felt very alone."
At this stage Glen would be awake at 4am every morning pacing the streets in a bid to exhaust himself to try and get a good nights sleep.
It was at this point he became suicidal and made an attempt to take his life. Fortunately, Linda found him and got him to hospital in time.
Glen was soon referred to ear, nose and throat specialists.
But it was never confirmed that he had damage or hearing loss.
Linda added: "By this time he had also developed hyperacusis, a sensitivity to sound, and I was really pushing for more support. I could see that when he did have the chance to talk about his condition and get reassurance from medical professionals that it was helping.
"But, his mental health was getting worse as his tinnitus and hyperacusis worsened, and it was a vicious circle that we just couldn’t break. By the end he couldn’t turn the light on in the bathroom because the noise of the extractor fan hurt his ears. He found the noise of a boiling kettle too hard and I couldn’t get him to even leave the house.
"It was at that point he took his own life."
Linda is sharing her story as part of the British Tinnitus Associations (BTA) 'Share Your Sound' campaign to help make sure more GPs and medical professionals understand tinnitus.
"I’m determined that lessons be learnt from Glen’s death. It shouldn’t and doesn’t need to get to such a tragic point and I want to encourage anybody out there with tinnitus not to lose hope. There is help out there."
"Talk about it to your friends and family, get in touch with the BTA and most importantly, see your GP so they can signpost you to the right places.
"I am really passionate about supporting GPs to become more knowledgeable about tinnitus and the potential impact the condition can have so they are more able to treat patients and improve their quality of life before things escalate.
To find out more about Share Your Sound and to download a GP tinnitus support pack to share with your GP, visit www.tinnitus.org.uk/sys.