We would all like to think that the world is a much more enlightened place than it was but there are still a number of taboo subjects that people don’t like to talk about. One of these subjects tends to polarise opinion and can bring out the stigma that makes people unwilling to talk about it. The subject I’m referring to is suicide. Despite the facts that suicide is the leading cause of death in men under 50 and that over a quarter of men who die between the ages of 20 and 34 take their own lives, the subject is still kept in the shadows. The unspoken nature of the subject helps to maintain the stigma surrounding it. To try and combat this World Suicide Prevention Day is observed on 10 September each year to raise awareness and to make a commitment to try and prevent suicide.
There have been some recent events such as the deaths of Gary Speed and Robin Williams which have brought the subject out into the open along with the ‘Stranger on a bridge’ film about Jonny Benjamin. Despite all of this, it still seems that men find it difficult to talk about their feelings which is one of the issues that leads to the suicide rates being much higher in men than women. From my own experience with depression, I know how difficult it can be to talk about how you feel. The first time I went to the doctors to try and get some help I was told that I should think about losing some weight as that was what was probably causing me to feel down. It had taken quite a lot for me to get to the point of seeking help and that immediately put me back as it was another couple of years and a lot of suffering before I went back to seek help. Even when I started to get some help, it was still difficult for me to talk about and express how I was feeling. I still find it difficult to express how I feel but one of the things that I have found that really helps is to use writing to help try and express myself. I don’t know why but it seems much easier to write down my feelings than to try and talk about them. It was Dan who originally suggested that writing a blog might be a good idea as a way of expressing myself and I have found that a good outlet which has also helped when I’ve had to try and talk about things as well. I never really set out for anyone else to read the blogs but decided to put them out as part of trying to break the stigma and after being inspired by others such as Paul Brook and Jayne Hardy. One of the best things about that decision is that it has prompted discussion and helped people talk about it.
There can also be the problem of men not wanting to appear weak or vulnerable which they think that they will if they admit that they are struggling. That can contribute to keeping everything inside and making the problems worse. Personally I don’t think that admitting you have a problem makes you weak, admitting that you need help takes far more courage than trying to hold everything in. True strength comes through adversity and how you deal with it. It how you deal with difficult situations that make you who you are and makes you much stronger for it. I consider myself lucky in that despite all my struggles I have never had suicidal thoughts and even though there have been times when I have thought that others may be better without me, I have never got to the point of thinking about taking my own life. It must be a terrible situation to find yourself in when you can see no other way out of your problems. I still wish there is something I could have done for Dan to help him as he had such a positive impact on so many peoples lives and has left such a big hole behind. He helped me so much with my depression but unfortunately I couldn’t do the same for him. I often think that I wish he would have called me on that Sunday and that I could have done something to help him. That day I lost a very special friend and I wouldn’t want anyone else to have to go through what his family and friends did following his passing.
One of the reasons that I want to continue with my fund raising and raising awareness and why I want to spread the message as far as possible is that one person taking their own life is one too many. The loss of Dan has had a profound effect on my life and is why I will do everything I can to help get people talking about these difficult subjects. If you want to help with raising awareness or funds, get in touch (firstname.lastname@example.org) as any help is greatly appreciated.
If you, or anyone you know, is finding things difficult then there are some great places to access information and help such as Mind, the Blurt Foundation and the Samaritans. Please don’t suffer in silence and if you need help, reach out as there are lots of people who will understand and can help.
Let’s try and get more people talking and bring these problems out into the open so that we can try and stop so many people taking their own lives. .
Onwards and upwards