Wigan man who survived suicide bid shares personal tale of gambling addiction to help others
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Paul Sherrington, 28, from Wigan, gambled his way into thousands of pounds of debt and could not hide his problem anymore.
He confessed all to his parents when he woke up in a hospital bed after a suicide attempt.
It was a winning bet and it gave him a buzz.
Paul did not gamble again for about a year, until he started going to the bookies with university friends and put on minimum 50p bets.
He then came across mobile gambling apps – which were becoming popular at the time – and this proved to be a real trigger for Paul.
The bets became bigger and more frequent, and he spent his student loan predominantly on gambling.
Paul said: “I had the idea in my head while I was at uni, through the cash-out feature that these betting apps have, that I could make an absolute killing and make a living from it, but it never ever works out like that.
"I started off small but before I knew it, I was gambling away up to £3,000 a day with money that I didn’t have."
After university, Paul struggled to break into a career and, feeling disheartened, his gambling addiction really began to take hold.
He spent his days gambling on his phone, sitting at train stations and in cafes, and before he knew it, his life savings had gone.
Completely broke, Paul took up a telesales job to pay for his addiction. But he was paid weekly and Paul soon found that every Friday, his wage would vanish.
To fund his addiction, he would extend his overdraft, take out credit cards and opened several bank accounts with zero funds just to have access to yet another overdraft.
Sleep became minimal and he was even gambling at 4am.
He realised he had an issue he could not control and considered taking his own life, even writing suicide notes which his parents found.
He said: “I just decided I’d had enough and took a load of tablets and tried to kill myself.
"I looked my parents dead in the eyes and told them I don’t want to be here anymore and I wanted to be dead.
“No parents should have to hear those words spoken by their 22-year-old son.”
He spent a week in hospital and confessed all to his parents.
Luckily, they were able to help, leaving him debt-free and with no reason to bet again.
But just four months later, he decided to do an experiment and put on a £5 bet.
He quickly lost a whole month’s wages and Paul realised he still needed help with his addiction.
He got in touch with Gambling Anonymous – a move which changed his life. He still attends meetings with his parents and has not gambled since.
Paul said: "I have a second chance at life and we have measures in place now.
"When I first started my recovery, I handed my finances over to my parents.
“Whenever I got paid, I would transfer my money to them and they would hand the cash to me whenever I required it.
"In the early stages, any purchases I would make I would also get a receipt for so that they could see what I was spending my money on, but I don't do that any more.
“They had access to my online banking so that they could see any transactions I was making and they just basically took the control out of my hands.
“I’ve been attending Gambling Anonymous for the past six years and I can’t thank them enough, as they have quite literally helped save my life.
"The advice and the support they have offered, not just to me but also for my parents, as I put them and the rest of my family through a hellish time, so they’ve also got a support room which offers help to any loved ones are affected.
“When you’re gambling, you feel that you’re all alone and you think that you are the only one.
“Speaking to people about your experiences and them sharing theirs with you, really helps you realise that you’re not alone.
“There’s people from all sorts of backgrounds: footballers, people with multi-million pound businesses, people from every single walk of life.
“Just hearing how they got through it really helps and has made me want to share my story wider and reach out to anyone struggling to encourage them to speak up and seek help before they get to the point where they feel like it’s too late and do something drastic, like I did."
Paul now wants to help other people struggling with gambling.
He said: "Once I came clean about absolutely everything, it was a massive relief, like a weight off my shoulders, because it was out in the open and people knew so I could truly get the help that I needed.
“I started a Twitter thread about two years ago and received lots of messages, so many people are struggling.
"It recently turned six years since I stopped gambling, so I thought it would be great to get the message out and try to help as many people that I can.
"I just want people to know that things can be better no matter how deep they think they are in it, there’s always help out there.
“Without the help of Gambling Anonymous and the support of my loving family, I have no doubt that I wouldn’t be here now.”