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Support needed Family of tragic anorexia sufferer speak out to raise awareness of eating disorders in men

"Blokes are embarrassed to admit they have a problem"

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Chris and Pam Nugent want to highlight how eating disorders affect men too

Chris and Pam Nugent want to highlight how eating disorders affect men too

Chris and Pam Nugent want to highlight how eating disorders affect men too

Chris Nugent gave his kid brother mouth to mouth in a desperate bid to save his life.

Sadly Laurence, who suffered with bulimia and anorexia, could not be saved, his body ravaged by the cruel illness he desperately tried to beat.

Mum Pam and son Chris set up their charity The Laurence Trust just two years after their loved one's shock death almost 12 years ago.

They want sufferers and their families to be aware of the illnesses and have everything available to them to stop them suffering the same heartbreaking fate as the 24-year-old who repeatedly tried to overcome his demons.

His family are still shattered by his death but today are more determined to try and prevent another family suffer like them.

And also to raise awareness that young women are not the only ones who suffer from eating disorders, men do too and their suffering is on the increase.

"Eating disorders among men has to be addressed. Blokes are embarrassed to admit they have a problem, they think it's an illness young girls have and there is a stigma associated to that that stops men speaking out and getting the help they need," Chris Nugent told the Sunday World.

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Laurence Nugent who died from an eating disorder

Laurence Nugent who died from an eating disorder

Laurence Nugent who died from an eating disorder

"Until the very end Laurence tried to kept it a secret. We couldn't understand why he was losing weight, his appetite was beyond good but he was making himself sick between sittings then coming back for more.

"It was only when we noticed vomit in the toilet bowl that we started to put it together and confront him," he said.

Before discovering what Laurence was doing, his family were convinced he had another severe illness - cancer or diabetes.

"We couldn't understand why he was wasting away, we were convinced there was something seriously wrong with him but we never imagined it was an eating disorder. When we finally worked it out he became very defensive," he said.

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"That's when he started to try and hide what he was doing even more. He was vomiting in the bin outside, he was vomiting behind the shed, anywhere he thought we couldn't see but the vomit was burning through the bin bags, it was that acidic.

"When we talked to him he became aggressive which was just not like him. He went from being aggressive to total despair, sobbing in his room, he became suicidal telling me that he didn't want to be here anymore. It was heartbreaking."

Laurence begged his family to keep his secret from friends and other family friends who were voicing concerns about his health.

"People were asking but I covered for him because I didn't want to break his trust. He thought if people knew it would ruin his reputation, his creditability amongst our friends. I told people he was training harder, I lied for him because that is what he wanted and we didn't want to cause his any more stress.

"We did what we thought was best at the time but looking back we didn't know what we were doing, we didn't know what we were dealing with the way we know now.

"That's why my mum decided to set up the charity, to help others the way we needed help but didn't know how to go about it. If we save just one person like Laurence or a family like ours then we will have made a difference, Laurence would have wanted that.

"He was a kind soul, he cared for others he was full of compassion," Chris revealed.

The family's first step was to take him to the doctor who in those days had very little knowledge of eating disorders.

Pam said: "Eating disorders are a mental illness. In fact I hate the word disorder because to me it is an eating distress. There was very little help for Laurence then and there is still not enough help today for anyone suffering from an eating disorder. That's why we had to set up the charity, to plug the hole.

"Anorexia has the highest mortality rate, higher than depression. We don't want other families to make the same mistakes as we did because they don't know what to do. We still blame ourselves and that is hard to live with, the what ifs.

"If we did this or that then would he still be here.

"That's why our website is a hub of information for men and their loved ones to get the help that is out there. Information like you need to go to your GP before you can seek any professional help. We are about recovery, prevention and education.

"We want to help remove the secrecy around eating disorders in men, remove the stigma."

Recalling the night he lost his brother and best friend is still hard for Chris.

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Pam and Chris Nugent

Pam and Chris Nugent

Pam and Chris Nugent

"Dad came into my room on the 30th of September and said there was something wrong with Laurence. When we went into his room he was lying rigid on the bed, there was a gargling noise coming from him, you know when people tell you of a death rattle, that's what it was.

"Mum rang the ambulance and relayed to us what they told us to do. We tried everything - put him on the floor, gave him mouth of mouth and CPR. We tried our best but it just wasn't good enough.

"When the ambulance arrived they tried everything too but after 15 minutes they came downstairs and said he was gone. Our lives were never the same again, they still aren't he has left a massive hole in all our lives, we miss him every day.

"Although he had his demons he was great craic, a lovely big fellow, he was a big loss to so many people not just us.

"Laurence was two years younger than me but we were best friends, we were very close, we did everything together. We shared everything, played football together, we shared the same circle of friends.

"I miss him every single day, even now I still think of him every day. Losing Laurence broke all our hearts. We just didn't see it coming," he revealed.

Anyone suffering from an eating disorder can contact The Laurence Trust's helpline from 6pm-9pm on 07510 371335. You can help support the local, family-run charity by logging onto The Laurence Trust website.

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