The true story of a mother of seven children putting her family’s life back together after the suicide of her husband is the subject of a new Netflix documentary, “Kingdom of Us.”
It was Sept. 15, 2007 when Vikie Shanks received a phone call from a client of her husband Paul, who was confused as to why he did not show for their meeting, she recalled in a piece she wrote for Good Housekeeping UK.
Two of her daughters went to find him but found his abandoned car instead. They came home with only his suicide note.
Shanks detailed her troubled love story with her husband which caused her to lose contact with friends and family due to his controlling ways
He also repeatedly attacked his wife.
“One time he pushed me into a corner and punched my kidneys, another time he trod on my foot hard enough to try and break a bone. He was intentional – he would leave marks where nobody would notice. He wouldn’t have ever directly punched me in the face,” she said.
Eventually the couple filed for divorce and were preparing to sell their house when he took his life.
“Paul had been threatening to kill himself virtually since I met him. The problem is when someone says it as often as Paul did, you get to the point where you don’t notice anymore, which is awful. Even when the police came and told us that Paul had called them to say what he was planning to do, I thought he’d be around somewhere. I thought it was a cry for help,” Shanks wrote. “I didn’t for a moment think he would follow through with it. He’d been saying it for years but he’d never actually made a suicide attempt. I thought it wouldn’t be real and it was.”
After he died, she found her children, four of whom are autistic, all dealt with their dad’s death in various ways.
She also found that the family was in severe debt.
“There were secret bank accounts and gambling accounts. He told me he owed people one amount and, after he died, I discovered it was four times more,” Shanks said. “It was really frightening, and I had no way of paying it back. The banks wrote off some of the things in his name, thank goodness. But, as for the personal debts, there was nothing I could do.”
But as scary as that was, what they found was even scarier.
“One of the most shocking things to happen within the days after his death was a note Paul wrote which my daughter Jamie, who was 16 when he died, and Kacie, 13, discovered, detailing plans to kill the children, me and then himself,” she said.
This was after he was diagnosed with depression, bipolar disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
And now Shanks wants the documentary to help those who suffer from mental issues.
“I hope it raises a lot of awareness for mental health and also for autism and how autism affects the way you recover from things like this,” she told the BBC.
“Kingdom of Us” is currently airing on Netflix.
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