My brain keeps coming up with amusing ways to begin this post. It’s bizarre, the subject I want to talk about isn’t funny at all.
There, I’ve said it. I’m sorry if I’ve just ruined your day.
Last week, an old friend took her own life.
She was recently married and had a young baby. But depression and other mental illnesses don’t particularly care about your life circumstances. It doesn’t matter how successful and happy you might seem on social media.
She wasn’t the first person in my social circle to do this. It’s distressing that I’ve actually lost count of the number of friends and family who have died by their own hand.
And even worse, I’m not particularly unusual. By the time most of us reach our forties (like me), we’ll know at least one person who killed themselves.
Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK. I’m sure the rest of the Western world has similar stats.
Just stop and think about that for a second…
Not cancer, not heart disease, not even car crashes. Suicide.
And yet many of us are still too scared or feel awkward talking about it. And that stigma contributes to the problem.
I feel strongly about this issue – before my blog’s recent redesign, this post aimed at preventing suicide was permanently featured on my home page.
I’ve had my fair share of mental health problems: depression which brought me close to suicide several times, panic attacks and addiction in recent years.
I’m incredibly grateful for these difficult experiences. They’ve taught me useful skills, for helping both myself and others. I’m better able to empathise with people going through similar experiences.
Volunteering as a listener for a suicide prevention charity was one of the most fulfilling roles of my life.
And yet, I feel like I should be doing more. More to help others, more to reduce the number of deaths by suicide.
Suicide isn’t inevitable. Severe depression can be treated. Maybe not for 100% of people, but certainly for some, maybe even most.
There’s more I could be doing to help.
Recently I’ve been looking for a clearer purpose for my blog, a tighter focus. Again and again The Universe keeps prompting me to do something about mental health issues and specifically suicide.
I guess it’s about time I did something.