WARNING This really long post may contain triggers with experiences some readers might find distressing. All opinions and thoughts are my own and I apologise for any upset this may cause.
Preventing Suicide: Reaching Out and Saving Lives
Today marks the 12th annual World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD) with this year’s theme and call to action being Reaching Out & Saving Lives. Over 800,000 people die by suicide across the world each year according to the latest WHO studies but still this report can only be an estimate with the information they are given. It is most likely to be a higher number due to the stigmas associated with suicide, be that due to religion or culture or simply down to lack of reliable death recording procedures. But 800.000 people is a lot of people. A lot of women. A lot of men. A lot of children. Looking at my screen right now at those figures makes me feel sick because in a perfect world there wouldn’t even be a number.
Reaching out to those at risk of suicide
I think the theme this year is probably one of the most relevant in our society right now in order to help break the stigma around talking about suicide. It can educate us all to consider the idea that offering even the smallest amount of support to an individual can help to be a preventative to suicide. For someone to feel so low & lost with the emotional torment it can play on one’s mind is frightening enough without having to speak up about the way they feel. If we could try to talk and more importantly listen to a vulnerable individuals concerns with our non-judgy pants and hat on could very well be a turning point in that person life and could be incredibly life changing.
Reaching out to those who have been bereaved by suicide
“People die all the time” is far from the attitude we should have. We are a world of billions and yet everyone single person on this planet has at least two things in common: we are born and one day we shall die. It’s a bleak notion but true. For every one of the estimated 800.000 was a child, perhaps they were a parent, a brother or a sister but they were someone’s loved one. We need to be able to talk about death without the fear of stigma because the deceased loved ones need our support. It can be devastating to families and friends who are left behind. Losing anyone in life is heart-breaking but more often than not the bereaved of suicide may feel as if they are to blame and become isolated in thoughts of grief & guilt, feeling as if they ‘should have recognised the signs’. Reach out to those who have lost; it’s important for them to not feel alone.
Reaching out to put people in touch with relevant services
In a majority of cases the support from loved ones and the community can be crucial for helping individuals at risk of suicide and also for people who have lost someone to suicide. Sometimes this is not enough. We need to help educate the world on their local services available to them in time of crisis whether this be a medical intervention, a talking therapy, a support group or even just a phone number somebody could use when they just need to talk to someone impartial. Would you know where to look for support? If not then today is the perfect time to find out what services are near you. I would hope that you never needed to use them but the information could be so important at one point in your life.
Reaching out to the suicide prevention community
Around the globe there are hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals, hospital services and charities trying to help and get involved in efforts to prevent suicide. There are online communities with individuals seeking advice and support from their peers and suicide survivors. We have strength in numbers with everyone being able to learn new things from one and other. Call that friend that was down in the dumps, check in on the elderly lady that lives alone in the house at the end of the street, talk to your partner if they feel stressed about their workload. Let someone know you care. Smile to the stranger on the bus you might just make their day brighter. By getting involved in days like today we can raise awareness, break the taboo and SAVE LIVES.
If you are a relative or a friend of mine, someone I’ve met in passing or maybe if you simply read this blog or follow me of social media you might be wondering why this subject matter is so important to me and why I come across as passionate about awareness of preventing suicide.
Today is harsh and raw and real.
Suicide and suicide attempts are real. And I’ve seen it for myself. I’ve seen my sibling shout and cry at me whilst I try to coax them to get into an ambulance having tried to take their own life at school. I have seen the tears cried and the vomit across the A&E department floor whilst my sibling struggled to come to terms with their own emotions and consequences. I have seen the wires and the drips connected to their pale skin. I have watched nurses and doctors run around amongst the sounds of a busy hospital ward. I have talked and pleaded with doctors to know if my sibling will be OK whilst hoping that the mental health team could counsel them to feel whole again. I have seen the lack of information given to parents and guardians about preventing this situation again. I have seen the lack of support given.
I have seen my own mother cry in fear of losing her eldest child. I have seen the tired face and pain in her eyes has she took her child to hospital having overdosed at home. I have seen the panic and confusion amongst her peers as if to say ‘what would drive your child to try to take their life’ with the sighs of relief that it wasn’t their own child. I have seen the lack of emotional support given to her whilst she saw her child connected to machines and drips. I have seen the way she darts around the subject as to why her child has been hospitalised just relieved that they were still alive. I have seen the torment and rolling of the eyes because this is the second time in a year she has had to take her child to the hospital. She knows the drill she knows the routine. She knows the pain.
I’ve seen the pain, the torment, confusion and despair because I am her eldest child.
Over the last month I have seen the tears behind the eyes of my partner, the anger building within, the frustration at the lack of answers given to questions he’s asked, the panic spread across his face and sadness in his heart. I have sat there as he heard the news that I had lost another child. Another miscarriage. I have stood there as he hugged me tightly not loosening his grip as if it might be the last time he saw me. I have heard the questions of “are you sure you’re alright” and I told him I was fine. Fine was a lie. And he knew it. I have seen the defiance and leadership skills take place when I told him I didn’t want to keep fighting for my happy ending. That I was tired of fighting with my own mind and body, I didn’t want to be here anymore. I don’t think he slept that night. I saw the hourly messages on my phone as I went to the doctors and bravely as I could actually tell her what I’d told my partner the night before. I saw the relief in his eyes when he saw that I had support. I have seen his face brighten with every step I take to being my random self. I saw him smile when he learnt I was going to be okay, that I no longer needed the urgent support of the local crisis team and that I no longer was in need of preventative help.
And I smiled when I learnt that he could be supported too. We are happy that there are indeed now plenty of resources and support groups for those affected by suicide.
We’re breaking the taboo.
So please, if you do learn one thing from this blog post just know that you’re not alone regardless of your circumstance, there is support all over the world and together I honestly, really truly, believe we can save lives.
I know this because I’m still here.
Samaritans 08457 90 90 90 (UK 24-hour national help line)
( Big hugs and virtual kisses for my mum, sibling and my gorgeous caring partner for always being their best selves and supporting me)