Why is suicide such a taboo subject? Why are people scared of talking up? I am on a mission to challenge the silence of suicide and show how healthy it can be to talk. I want more people to feel comfortable to talk and get the help they need.
I accept that talking about suicide is a big thing and it does take a lot of courage. Whether you are a mother who has lost her son, a train driver who struck someone, or a person who was a few pills away from ending it all, suicide is most certainly difficult from any angle.
So how has suicide affected me?
I was affected by suicide back in 2001 when the most influential man in my life planned and followed through with his suicide. My dad left me and it really hurt and it still hurts. But many years ago, I accepted what had happened, broke the silence and have been able to move on with my life ever since.
Don’t get me wrong, there have been mixed emotions over the years but as time has passed by, I have gone from strength to strength and have now come to a place where I want to help others do the same.
As a 12-year-old child and being the first on the scene, I was completely shocked by what I saw. So shocked that I did not cry. It was at least 5 hours before I could shed a tear, once I had made some sense of what had happened. Imagine this, I found my dad, but went back to have another look to ‘make sure’ it was real. The whole time, I knew nothing about suicide and how quickly it can take a life.
It was not until I saw my dad’s body being wheeled away and loaded into a private ambulance that I really started to ‘get it’. He didn’t leave me a note. All I am left with is a vivid memory of what I saw.
How did I feel when my dad took his own life?
Bearing in mind I was only 12 at the time, I felt most of the common feelings that are experienced by people affected by suicide.
- Shock. Unsure about what had happened and why. As mentioned above, I didn’t cry and that was mainly because I didn’t understand what had happened.
- Upset. When it finally sank in that my dad had gone and was not coming back, I was very upset.
- Anger. I then became angry as I did not understand how he could do such a thing and leave me and my brother with no explanation.
- Failure. I often thought “what if” and “if only” I had done something differently. What if I had come home earlier from the park. If only I didn’t go out that day.
Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide state that:
I definitely had post-traumatic stress disorder and found it very difficult to deal with my dad’s death. I went through a period where I stayed in my house and became very introvert.
I was silent.
Let’s break the silence!
People who feel suicidal often suffer in silence and it is usually the case that loved ones around don’t know how bad things really are. Knowing what help is out there is crucial because it can take just one conversation to transition the negative thoughts going through a person’s mind. It could be that one conversation or piece of advice that helps a person see past their current situation.
There have been many times when I have thought about how painful it must have been for my dad in those last moments. Since becoming an adult, I have a greater understanding of mental health and realise that my dad was not well at the time before he took his own life suicide. Unfortunately, he did not receive the help he very much needed.
By speaking up and raising awareness, more lives could be saved from an epidemic which on average takes the life of one person every 40 seconds somewhere in the world.
This year I will be supporting International Suicide Prevention Day on 10th September 2018 and also International Survivors of Suicide Loss day on 17th November 2018.
More information will be available in the coming months.
If you are feeling suicidal, there are so many agencies out there that can help. Mind UK mental health charity has very useful information on their website. There are so many ways to get help and support.
If you have lost somebody to suicide and need help grieving, Support After Suicide are a network of organisations that support people who have been bereaved or affected by suicide personally or professionally.
If you are supporting your child through bereavement, you may find it useful to read my blog post ‘As a child, how did I cope and recover from the loss of my dad?’.
From me to anyone who is suicidal, you are not alone. When I suffered from postnatal depression, I had thoughts that were dark. Thankfully I was able to get the help I needed.
Speak up, speak now, let’s end the silence.
Wide Eyed Mummy