Today – 10th Sept is World Suicide Prevention Day. I have mixed thought about awareness days, there seems to be so many and I always have the feeling “what about the day after or the day before”? If you’re feeling ill those feelings are not going to go away, support will be needed for a long time. At the same time if it starts conversations, raises awareness or funds then a purpose will have been served.
The title – suicide prevention got me thinking though. When you think about it, to help prevent suicide you do not need to be a doctor or a specialist, there is no funds needed to help research into a miracle cure. Everyone can play a part in preventing suicide by being kind, patient, tolerant, understanding, alert, and most importantly, a good listener. It doesn’t cost anything!
Suicide is the ultimate and final condition of mental illness. An illness that can affect anybody, it doesn’t check your bank balance, it doesn’t look at your bank balance, how many friends you’ve got, how successful you are.
There have been days and times when I’ve struggled, really struggled. Putting one foot in front of the other took a huge effort, the simplest of tasks seemed like the biggest hurdles and minutes seemed like hours, hours seemed like days. I’ve also been lucky, very lucky. I’ve had colleagues and friends who recognised something was up and came for a chat, I’ve got a wife who knowing that something was up would give me the space I needed and the patience and understanding when I needed time to talk. I also found strength to say “I’m struggling” and seek advice. Nobody ever told me to “snap out of it” or even worse “Man-up”.
Wow – I’ve just had to take a moment and realise just how lucky I am, and how I don’t always appreciate it.
Even on the days when I really struggled, I never felt like ending things or start to imagine what that would be like. If I can’t imagine what it must be like to end your life I’m certainly not going to judge someone who has. It must be so dark, so desolate to get to that point. I totally agree that suicide is not a selfish act. If a person is struggling and have got to the point where they see themselves as a burden, they will imagine that the world would be better off without them then suicide must seem like a selfless act. It’s something that takes strength not weakness.
There are so many simple things we can do to help prevent suicide. It can start with a simple question, how are you? It can then be something as easy as going for a coffee or a pint and taking the time to listen.
Ask your employer about going on a Mental Health First Aid course. I’ve done it and can’t recommend it highly enough. It helped me on a personal aswell as equip me with the skills to help others.
If we have first aiders in the work place to be able to deal with trips and accidents, doesn’t it make sense to have first aiders for mental health?
A quick google search will point you in the direction of lots of organisations, resources and charities to support people who are struggling. A great one for men in Tees Valley is Men Tell Health, they deliver Speak Easy sessions where you can turn up and just have a chat and a coffee with other blokes.
With government and NHS funding the way it is at the moment we can’t rely on the services who should be able to offer the right support to be there when we need them the most – that really is a discussion for another day, I can feel the anger rising already!