When I realised that this year’s World Mental Health Day was focusing on the subject of suicide and suicide prevention, I paused. I wasn’t sure that this was an area that I could write about knowledgeably and, in fact, even as I write this blog post now, I’ve got a constant thought in the back of my mind that it could be just as easy to press “delete” as it would be to press “publish” when I’ve reached the end of my musings.
I’ll be honest, suicide is not a tragedy that we’ve had to deal with firsthand. I know friends and colleagues whose families have been shaken to their very core because of the unexpected and sudden death of a loved one, but I can’t pretend to understand just how difficult it is to come to terms with that death, deal with the impact of it or find a way to somehow carry on with life “as normal”.
Can I understand what leads someone to believe that death is the only answer to their problems? Possibly.
I’ve never been in the position to feel that there is no other escape, but my own experiences with depression over the years due to my T1D, following the traumatic birth of M and the massive mental health impact of workplace bullying do perhaps give me a slight glimpse of how frighteningly easy it is to spiral downwards into the darkest of places and not know how to climb back out of that hole. Sadly, it’s been a truth we’ve also had to face with M in times when he has struggled to come to terms with the reality of his chronic illness and all the consequences that come with that; and we’ve watched G battle to overcome the challenges of having a sibling with health challenges. I’ve written about these experiences and how they’ve affected me, G and M many times and you can find those posts through searching “mental health” or “bullying” on my blog.
Today I saw this image posted on social media by our local NICU ward, a place I know well after the births of both G and M, and it perfectly encapsulates everything we should be teaching our young people about their own mental health: that no emotion should ever be considered to be wrong and, most importantly, that it’s okay to not feel okay.
Me too, I agree with everything you’ve said above. I don’t have first hand experience if suicide but I’ve seen what it can do to others. To those left behind. The not knowing whether there was anything you could have done. And feeling guilt for not knowing what suffering your loved one must have been going through. It’s tragic, but in all of those instances the person taking their life didn’t feel able to speak, to talk, and the overwhelming emotion is that the world is better off without them. It’s just soo awful to even imagine because it’s just so wrong. The world is never a better place if someone has taken their life. It’s the talking, the starting to open up, the sharing and the emotions that brings that can help someone start to find a way to live with thoughts, feelings, pain… I’m no expert but if we can just help one person reach out for help it’s worth having a go. I feel fortunate to not have suicidal thoughts, but I do struggle with my mental health so thanks for sharing this. And when you ask someone ‘How are you?’ just be prepared for them to actually tell you! We all need to talk and it might not be the conversation you were expecting. So if you don’t know what to say, just listen and ask how you can help. Don’t offer advice, don’t tell them what you would do. just tell them you’re there for them, that you love them. That it is OK to not be OK.
Absolutely brilliantly said Ruth. Thank you for sharing xxx