“Did you really want to die?”
“No one commits suicide because they want to die.”
“Then why do they do it?”
“Because they want to stop the pain.”
~ Tiffanie DeBartolo, How to Kill a Rock Star
Yesterday was Suicide Prevention Day and I wanted to put something down as this is a topic after my own heart. There are many shocking stats about suicide in the UK that you can read about here, I won’t add to that myself. I just wanted to acknowledge this day and maybe share a little.
I learned a bit about suicide this year during my Mental Health First Aid Training. The course was given by a suicide survivor, an incredibly vibrant man who couldn’t have been more candid about his experiences. He spoke openly (and sometimes with genuine humour) about why he’d wanted to take his own life, what might have stopped him and his thoughts on it now – and it was fascinating. Surprising too, when you consider how outgoing and seemingly bright he is. This just goes to show that it isn’t always obvious what people are going through, or the kinds of people who are affected by suicidal thoughts.
Of the people on that course, there were at least a handful that had first or second-hand experience of suicide – and all their stories were heart-breaking and very raw. Honestly, I don’t think I had any idea of what something like that can leave in its wake and the repercussions seem endless. My eyes were opened by that course and I feel as though maybe I worry more about people I care about now. I’m hyper conscious of friends who seem down but sometimes I’m clumsy about how I go about making sure they’re okay. The right words don’t always come easy because it’s a massive thing to talk about – but I think it’s fine just to ask someone if they need anything.
Way back during my darkest period this was definitely something I considered. If I’m honest there just didn’t seem to be a reasonable way out. I didn’t believe I could just say ‘enough’ and be allowed to leave our home. In the end it turned out to be quite easy but I’d been beaten down so much mentally that I hit a wall and for a long time I felt dead already. I just wanted it to be over, once and for all.
In the end it was friendship that saved me. I met a group of people who wanted me to be okay and they’d make sure I was, daily. I found a tiny sliver of hope and that was enough to acknowledge that I wasn’t going to sacrifice my life to fear. I’m lucky and although I still have dark thoughts, I know what I need to do if it feels like too much.
Suicide has always been stigmatized. I no longer think a person is selfish or cowardly if they take their own life. I just think it’s sad and I wish that they could have found another way. It’s not for me to judge but I do want to be there for my loved ones or anyone who feels they need help. We can all be kinder and more observant, it doesn’t take much . We need to check in with our friends, family and colleagues.
And if you’re going through Hell, there are ways to help yourself. The Samaritans for one are an amazing organisation and they’re there 24/7, 365. Most workplaces have an Employee Assistance Programme or can offer you additional help too. It can be hard to ask for help, I completely get that but I hope you find a way to. It can change everything.
Call: 116 123 (free)
Or drop into your local branch
Razors pain you,
Rivers are damp,
Acids stain you,
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren’t lawful,
Gas smells awful.
You might as well live.”
~ Dorothy Parker, Enough Rope