Family of tragic dad left paralysed after attempted suicide bid battle to “give him a voice”


A TRAGIC dad has been left totally paralysed and unable to communicate following a failed suicide bid.

Jai Sharkey tried to hang himself but was discovered just in time by a concerned friend who called in.

The 37-year-old father of two young children suffered catastrophic brain damage and, two years later, only has limited movement of one hand.

Now his devoted family are trying to raise money for a computer that might give Jai, from Galashiels in the Scottish Borders, the chance to communicate.

Jai with Konnie, five, and Cooper, three. Taken in November 2015.

The tradesman was described as a hard-working, fun-loving, family man who doted on his young son and daughter.

But after experiencing personal difficulties he tried to take his own life in November 2014.
A heart-rending picture taken a year later shows Jai lying helpless in a hospital bed with his two young children by his side.

After two years of constant care, and small signs of improvement, the hope is that a £7,500 computer will enable Jai to break out of his silence by using eye movements.

Speaking today his older brother, Jay, 41, said: “He deserves a voice. No matter how disabled you are, you still deserve a voice.”

Jai (R) with brother Jay, who is now leading the fundraising effort to help him communicate

He added: “My brother wasn’t showing any signs of depression. He tried to commit suicide by hanging.

“He messaged a friend beforehand saying ‘don’t let my kids see me like this, it’ll break their heart’.

“After going round there and getting through the door she found him. It caused severe oxygen starvation to the brain.”

Jay said the family had been told from the start “there’s nothing there”.

“It’s taken two years for speech therapy to come in and watch,” he said.

“They’ve been asking him to do things and he’s doing it so he’s been showing signs of improvement and is able to track things on command using his eyes.”

Jai’s family are convinced that lately he has been trying to speak to them.

Jay said: “If we are all sat round chatting, he’ll shout sometimes so we are wondering if this is because he’s trying to speak to us and we want to know if there’s anything out there that can help him.

Jai is currently being cared for at Hawick Community Hospital in the Scottish Borders and is regularly visited by his two children, Konnie, five, and Cooper, three.

Jai with players from his local team. The pic was taken on Hogmanay in Galashiels.

“They’re brilliant with their dad,” said Jay. “Konnie helps him when he gets fed and he dribbles sometimes so she will wipe it away.

“They’re just amazing, brilliant. He will sit there and watch them but we want to help get that communication back between him and his kids and also the rest of the family and carers.”

Jay described his brother before tragedy struck as a “fun-loving family man, a hard-working jack-the-lad who liked partying and loved going to football matches”.

He added: “He doted on his son and daughter.

“He loved nothing more than a fancy dress and dressing up for Halloween parties. I remember for his daughter’s first birthday he cleared the place and went all out decorating the place then dressed up as Beetlejuice. He loved stuff like that.

The family hope a machine like this will help Jai communicate

“If anybody wanted to know how to be a dad, I’d want to learn from him. His daughter was always daddy’s little girl and wanted to go everywhere with him. Even when he would be going to work she would cling to him.

“The main thing I miss are my phone calls with him. We were always really close and when we were younger, it was always me and him together. The grieving process you go through is hard, It’s just a really sad situation and hard for the family.”

Jay and his family have now set up an online Crowdfunding page and have so far raised just under £800.

They are looking to raise at least £7,500 to buy a Tobii Dynavox computer which will enable Jai to learn how to communicate through eye movements.

Jay added: “The target is set to £7,500 but anything would be great so we can get him stuff to help him.

“There are different types of computers, some which work by eye tracking and others that are designed like iPads but they’re all very expensive and we’re not the richest of families.

“I push him quite a lot because I want the best for him and want to keep his brain active. So far we’ve seen signs there already showing that Jai can make improvements.”

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