I heard earlier in the week about a male colleague from another office ending their own life and although I didn’t know him it nonetheless cuts deeply. It’s not the first loss we’ve had as a company to suicide and the stats would suggest that it won’t be the last. To lose one life to suicide is one too many and despite all the awareness campaigns and charities the UK has to offer, the complexities of mental health will always mean people fall through the cracks and continue to add to the ‘statistics’.
Of course, nobody is just a statistic. They are a husband, a wife. They are a son or a daughter. A brother, a sister, a friend, a work colleague or that person you always said hello to in the village but didn’t know their name. They are the musicians we have always listened to. The actors we’ve seen in many films. That reality TV star who was constantly facing abuse from the newspapers and trolls on social media. The link? We are all humans.
My lifetime has been peppered with suicide albeit indirectly. My Grandad often talked to me about his brother who they believe completed suicide by lying down on a train track after earlier finding out his wife had been having an affair. There’s the classmate at school when I was around 12 who hung himself. At that age it was so confusing as to why he had did it considering he seemed ‘fine’ at school earlier that day. A Cousin of mine who I wasn’t close to but would still speak to occasionally was another who died from suicide earlier this year. He leaves his little child without a father. I see that innocent, small kid on the school run most days. It hurts just thinking about it.
I’ve been suicidal. When I was at my lowest and suffering with my dissociation episodes I was saying things which suggested I wanted to die. I was out of control and can’t remember those events but to hear about them from others makes me feel so sick with fear that at my lowest I could have ended it. Sure, I used to often think about killing myself in a sober, conscious sense but it was never more than fleeting thoughts. Glamourising the idea in my own head. I know that sounds strange but I would often be soaking in the bath day dreaming about how I could end it and which way would be the quickest / easiest. No surprise that these thoughts would be more common when my anxiety was playing up.
It wasn’t until I had my mental health breakdown that this looked like becoming more of a reality but I will be forever grateful to my wife for being there on all of the occasions I was at my most vulnerable and rightly so, she got the emergency services involved.
I’m not a counsellor and I’m not the man with all the answers but I believe we can do TWO things. If we all do this we will reduce suicide figures. We won’t stop suicide all together but we can try to prevent it.
• If you are having thoughts of harming yourself or killing yourself and don’t feel like you can reach out to family or friends PLEASE contact the Samaritans on 116 123
• If you are concerned about somebody don’t avoid them because of your own awkwardness but also don’t feel like you have to take on all of the pressure. A simple text, call or visit to somebody to check in could make a huge difference. We can’t be with somebody 24/7 but we can make them feel visible and heard by connecting
As I say, we can’t control the actions of others and should not carry guilt if somebody you know does pass because mental health is complex – but I know that if I follow those two things above, I’m giving myself and others a chance.