Monday, 10 September 2018

Suicide Prevention Day - We Need Help Beyond Hashtags

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day.

A day when we're supposed to come together to open up the conversation about suicide.

 A day when we make an effort not to treat it as a dirty word.

A day when we discuss ways to stop people wanting to end their own lives.

A day when we talk openly about the fact that suicide is currently one of the biggest killers in the world with over 80,000 dying worldwide each year.

It's a day when the hashtags are flying around the world wide web thick and fast, when people are keen to get involved and talk about it because it's trending on Twitter...

So why then, as a blogger someone who had already intended to share a post or two from my archives today about my personal experiences with mental health and suicidal thoughts, why do I feel like it's so very taboo for me to tell you that yesterday evening...I sat in my bedroom with a dressing gown chord wrapped around my neck, willing myself to finally go through with the act of hanging myself.

Why does that feel like something I just can't say?

 Even on a day like today where everyone is encouraging people to talk about it.

It wasn't the first time I'd done that, or something like it.

And in all honesty, I don't think it will be the last.

But even though I'm very open about my struggles with mental health, it still feels hugely taboo to admit to this.

It's one thing to admit to having had past struggles. It's one thing to get through a dark time and then talk about it afterwards.

But to casually drop into conversation the words "I thought about killing myself again last night. I wanted so badly to have the bravery to go through with it. I actually sat there and wrapped a dressing gown chord around my neck, and tried to figure out where would be the best place to hang myself from"...that just doesn't feel like something you're supposed to do.

It doesn't feel like something anybody would want to hear.

It feels too uncomfortable to share with other people.

It feels like the kind of thing people will SAY they want you to talk about, but actually they'd much rather you just kept it to yourself because let's be gets a bit boring when people with mental health conditions don't get fixed quickly and just keep going on about their problems, doesn't it?!

Whether that's true or not, let me tell you...that's EXACTLY how it feels.

Mention suicidal thoughts once...people are shocked and sympathetic.

Mention them more often...people are bored. You're depressing them. You're negative. You're draining.

The fact is, that mental illness is not something that is likely to ever be completely cured.

It's not like an don't treat a "flare up" and expect it to never come back again.

It's a life long thing, something that will most likely crop up again and again.

It's unpredictable.

Last night I felt at one of my lowest points...I couldn't see beyond that immediate moment and my intense desire to escape from the world and from the trappings of my own head.

Yet today...I feel surprisingly well, and even in high spirits.

This makes little sense to me, so I don't have the ability to explain it to you.

All I can do is talk about it as it is.

You're supposed to ask for help apparently...that's what everyone is talking about today.

"Don't suffer in silence"....

"Reach out..."

"PLEASE ASK FOR HELP"... I am...not suffering in silence. But suffering, regardless. And who is there to ask for help? What help is there to be given?

The fact is, unless you actually go through with a suicide attempt then there's very little help out there for you. And even when you do attempt it, resources are so stretched that you only have access to them for a limited time. I know suicide attempt survivors who've been discharged from care only a couple of weeks later with little to no follow up care given, despite the fact that they are in an extremely vulnerable place...simply because there are no resources available.

I myself was discharged from the NHS Depression & Anxiety service a couple of months ago, because I missed a session due to the fact that I was too depressed to get out of bed and go. I had regularly answered "Yes" to the weekly question "Have you had suicidal thoughts?" on the form I had to fill in before each session...My counsellor simply ticked the box on her form and it was never mentioned again.

I haven't had a single follow up message since my sessions were stopped...nobody has been in touch to ask how I'm doing, or how the suicidal feelings have been. Because they don't have the resources.

I've reached out to my own family in the past only to be met with the attitude that I'm "being silly" or "selfish"...I've sat in front of my family and threatened to kill myself, only to have their eyes rolled at me while they told me to pull myself together.

And it's not their fault...they're not professionals, they don't know how to handle it...but where does that leave me? And the thousands of people like me.

So while it's great that today is a day full of hashtags and calls for people to "ask for help", then comes tomorrow, and the conversation gets quieter. While those of us who live under the cloud of suicidal thoughts carry on, our realities unchanged by yesterdays hashtags.

The fact is, suicide is a problem that will never be prevented until we stop merely paying lip service to the subject with hashtags and dedicated Awareness Days and start actively putting pressure on our government to provide better mental health services with more adequate funding.

It will never be prevented until we start openly discussing suicide and its causes without judgement, labels, fear and the desire for quick-fixes.

If somebody you know is struggling, take the time to just be with them.

You don't need to try to fix them, you don't need to give them your opinions on how they're feeling or the way they're handling it...just be there, and be ready to listen.

If you need someone to talk to now, call the Samaritans on 116 123 or visit

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