Brother of Max Thurnell-Read talks of his sibling's struggle with lockdown and fundraiser for charity No Limits
DRAPED in a rainbow flag and with a huge smile spread across his face, Max Thurnell-Read enjoys his first ever Pride march.
A photo of that day in Southampton provides a precious memory for his brother Turlough Stevens (23) who described his younger sibling as “an amazing young boy, just full of fun and laughter”.
He added: “That photo of Max is just so him.
“He was so excited. My mum had taken him to the march, and he was just so happy to be there.”
But just a couple of years after that photo was taken his beloved brother was dead at the age of 15.
The Year 10 Arnewood School pupil was found dead at his New Milton home in May this year, believed to have taken his own life.
Turlough is now preparing to undertake the 5km Colour Run in Bath on 24th July in aid of the charity No Limits which offers confidential information, advice and counselling to people under the age of 26.
He said he was inspired by the “urgent need for places for youngsters in a dark place to reach out to and know someone will listen to them”.
Speaking of Max’s tragic death, Turlough said: “We never saw this coming. We knew he had been feeling low and as a family we are always open and supportive.
“It’s one of the reasons he felt able to tell us he was bisexual or gay at an early age.
“As a family we would talk about things, we knew he was struggling but we had no idea he was suicidal.”
The family believed that lockdown played a huge part in Max’s difficulties. No school and isolation from friends took a massive toll.
Turlough said: “This last year we could sense Max was having issues. He was really missing school and seeing his friends.
“He was in contact with them over social media and text messages but that is not like seeing people face to face.
“Not having that physical connection with people. There was a huge drop in his mental health.
“He had his lows but at other times he was really happy, especially when he was playing his guitar.
“Music was a huge part of his life.”
Although he had hated the social isolation of lockdown, when he eventually did return to school Max continued to struggle.
On his fundraising webpage, Turlough explained: “A part of this was due to people forgetting to be kind.
“It has become easier for young people to communicate through social media, and this leads to people being cruel and unkind without realising the consequences of their words.
“Max had problems towards the end with these issues and everything became too much for him to cope with.”
Max had already received help from the Southampton branch of No Limits and the charity has been supporting his family since his death.
Turlough said: “The charity is just amazing. I want to highlight what they do because all over the UK there are youngsters like Max who are really struggling.”
The months since his death have been “incredibly tough” for Max’s family, added Turlough.
Despite an eight-year age gap, the two brothers were exceptionally close. Turlough revealed: “We shared a bedroom for far longer than either of us would have liked but when we did get separate ones, we were always shouting across to each other and mum would have to tell us to shut up.
“I miss Max so much, we were like best friends. We were always doing silly things together.
“There is a bench in his memory at Ballard’s Lake, we go there and talk about him. But it is so hard to think he is no longer here.”
To donate, visit gofund.me/8d92b0b3
For information about No Limits, visit nolimitshelp.org.uk