Tuesday, 10 September 2013

World Suicide Prevention Day

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day.

It's a day to think of those who have lost their lives to suicide, to those who have lost loved ones to suicide, to those who are currently struggling with suicidal ideation, and a day to talk more openly about the issue of suicide, a topic more commonly faced as one of 'taboo' or 'shame'.

Of course, this shouldn't just happen today. This form of openness should occur all year round. But if today I can share some facts and figures and truths regarding suicide with you all and educate at least one person about the reality of suicide, then this day is a worthy one.

News stories regarding the topic of suicide tend to say similar things when news of attempts or deaths come to light. That 'there were no signs', 'no notes' and nothing was given away to indicate that suicide was an option. When people discover that I have depression, and I too, have struggled with suicidal ideation and attempts, I get a similar sort of response. 'but you're always so happy and smiley!' 'you've got nothing to be depressed about!', and so on. The truth is that many people deal with their depression in different ways, and I deal with mine by painting my mask on, making myself look presentable and appearing perfect for the general public when I go to work. I then proceed to let my thoughts fester when I'm home alone, when they've all built up on me during the day and that's when I struggle. Everyone is different. Asking why somebody wants to take their own life will not help them, because quite honestly the majority of the time, they've reached a stage where they don't even know anymore. I know I didn't. Depression had wavered a huge cloud over what I actually wanted and what I didn't. I couldn't think. Functioning was too hard. I was, and sometimes still am full of so much self-hated that to me, there would really be no point in being alive anymore. And yet people still look at me and tell me I don't look like a depression/suicide sufferer. 

And this is why suicide needs to be talked about. And I'm not saying it's easy. Even writing this post, I'm struggling to find the words to express what I'm trying to say, and as someone who loves writing this blog, that's usually difficult for me. We're still living in a society where suicide is not only treated as a taboo topic, but when discussed, is treated as a joke and something to laugh at. Young people are using social networking websites such as Ask.fm to bully innocent depressed teenagers into suicide, telling them to 'go kill themselves' as if it's such a natural and normal thing. I hear people express suicide as a feeling of anger or frustration, expressions such as 'oh I might as well go and slit my wrists/kill myself now' being a normal and almost laughable phrase by some. Rob Brydon, an English comedian, was recently criticised heavily for poking fun at Stephen Fry's 2012 suicide attempt, describing him as "the nation's favourite dinner guest with charm up to the gills, what a shame he can't be left alone with vodka and some pills". Why do people think that this is still acceptable? What part of suicide exactly do people think is funny? It destroys lives, far many more lives than one would even imagine. 

Suicide is also classed as selfish. People argue that those who are suicidal should be grateful for what they've got. That they should appreciate their family, and friends. That they should stop and think before they cause imminent destruction to the lives of those who find them dead, the ones that run them over when they run out infront of that car, and that train driver who just couldn't stop in time. And whilst I am aware of the pain and devastation that suicide causes to a loved one, I understand all too well that internal struggle, depression, which feels all too overwhelming, so much to the point where you can't even think of those around you. I use my boyfriend as my strength to recover now but during my first overdose back in November 2010, I was so consumed by my illness I didn't have the strength to think about him or my family. I genuinely thought everyone wanted me dead. That's not me being selfish. That's my illness being selfish and taking my sense of self, my identity, away from me. That's not my fault.
A few statistics for you:
  • 1 million people across the world die from suicide each year. That totals up to one suicide every 40 seconds. Think about it.
  • It is estimated that approximately 5% of people attempt suicide at least once in their lifetime.
  • More people die from suicide each year than murder and war - combined.
  • 100,000 adolescents die from suicide each year, with it being the biggest cause of death amongst 15-19 year olds.
Still think it's a joke now?

I've talked people out of suicide. I've been talked out of suicide. I've suffered from extreme suicidal ideation. I've been close to death. And even I, can barely describe in words that element of desperation and despair that so many of depression sufferers carry with them. Nothing can describe the feeling where you honestly feel that you'd be better off dead. That the only way out of the internal nightmare, is death.
People who are suicidal could be the happiest people in the world and have 'everything going for them'. They could have huge families, friends, a job, a long-term relationship, a degree, they could be married, have children, they could be millionaires. They could be black, white, asian, gay straight, bisexual, Christian, Muslim, or blue with pink spots for all we know. The truth is that depression does not discriminate. It didn't discriminate against me, the girl who supposedly had everything going for her, being young, in a long-term relationship, getting decent grades with a nice family. If it can happen to me it can happen to anyone. A smile on the outside doesn't always mean a smile on the inside. Which is why we need to take time to show our care and support. Asking someone how they are could be that small step in prompting a suicidal person to open up and talk. And if they do, don't be scared. You may not understand, but sometimes, just being there, just being that source of strength for someone is the most valuable thing. 

If you're reading this and currently struggling with suicidal thoughts, there is always help and support available  There is a person, out there willing to listen to you and your needs. I am one of them. There are helplines. There are support forums. There are friends, and family for that shoulder to cry on and there are professionals, psychiatrists, mental health teams, nurses and doctors. I promise you that you're not alone and that there are people out there to help. There's no magical cure for depression, but starting that conversation and opening up to somebody could be the first step on a long journey towards recovery. It may be the hardest step you'll ever make but it is 100% worth it. 

Please call Samaritans: 08457 90 90 90 OR email jo@samaritans.org to start that conversation if you are experiencing these thoughts, or there are a variety of other organisations such as Mind, DepressionAlliance, Papyrus, Grassroots, SANE and CALM to check out.

1 comment:

  1. Very brave post, girl. You are a gift. Awareness needs to be spread. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: You can break your arm and everyone will rush to sign your cast, but disclosing suicidal thoughts, or telling someone you have a mental disorder such as depression (so common as you are well aware) and very few are willing to touch the topic with a ten foot pole. It is because of the lack of education. Something so prevalent within society swept under the rug. That's why days like these exist, to shed light on a situation that deserves the time of day.