Last month we had 'World Suicide Prevention Day'.
Both topics inextricably linked. Both very close to my heart. And yet, I didn't say too much about it. Either here on my newly formed blog, or on social media.
You see, I was ashamed. I am ashamed.
Ten years ago this April, my Dad committed suicide. I often try and act like I'm not bothered by talking about it, like I'm OK. Like perhaps I'm dealing with it really well. But really, I hate talking about it because I hate how it makes the people around me feel. I don't want them to feel bad, I can't stand the sadness in their faces, and uncomfortable pauses as they frantically try to think of what they can say.
I don't say anything because I don't want to be a 'me-monster'. To seek attention.
I am ashamed because I feel guilty.
I feel guilty that telling people how my Dad died makes them uncomfortable.
I feel guilty because I know so many people who have lost parents. Their parents didn't want to leave them. Those Mums and Dads wanted to live. But they couldn't. My Dad could live. But didn't. So I feel guilty that my Dad gave up something that so many others deem precious.
But more than anything, I am ashamed that I failed him. That I failed to save him. That I failed in being the daughter that someone would want to live for. I feel guilty for not being there for my Dad when I should have been. I feel guilty for going to university when I should have stayed with him.
And so, although I'd love to stand up and shout about why we need to talk about mental health and suicide, I feel struck dumb. My shame, my guilt, keeps me quiet.
I want to declare an end to social taboos.
I want to support all those brave, courageous people speaking out about their own experiences.
I want to support incredible charities doing amazing work.
But I feel like the least qualified person in the world to offer advice on helping those with mental health issues and suicide prevention.
Please don't think bad of me. I just don't know what to say.
However, according to Stamp Out Suicide, if you are concerned about someone you know, you should:
- Try to remain calm
- Ask the person how they are feeling and don’t be afraid to ask if they are feeling suicidal
- Actively show the person that you are listening to them
- Take what they are saying to you seriously
- Do not make judgements. What they are feeling is their unique experience and you should refrain from giving your opinions or views
- Let the person know that you want to help
- Try to remove the things they could use to harm themselves or make a suicide attempt with
- Try not to leave the person on their own if they are actively suicidal
- Seek professional advice as soon as possible
Just because I don't know what to say, it doesn't mean that it shouldn't be spoken about.
If you're struggling, please get help. You may think that those around you don't want to help you, that they won't miss you if you're gone. But trust me, as someone who misses my Daddy every single day, there is someone out there who will do anything to help you.
If you're looking for help, then these organisations want to help you:
Samaritans - Call on 116 123
Papyrus - Call HOPELineUK on 0800 068 41 41
CALM - Call 0800 58 58 58