I was going to write a completely light and fluffy Things I Liked post today. Until I remembered it’s World Suicide Prevention Day and decided to write about that. Mental health is something that’s very important to me and hearing about the possibility that there might be cuts made to mental health services here in Ireland breaks my heart. Think about all the car safety ads you see. In general more people die by suicide a year in Ireland than they do in road accidents. Yet you never see that much awareness and advertising for suicide and mental health. In fact, according to The Irish Times, nearly 10 times more people died by suicide in 2011 in Co.Clare (where I live) compared to road traffic accidents. 19 people died by suicide, 2 in road accidents. And of those 19 people who died, 17 were male. Which I find shocking.
There’s such a stigma attached to mental health which is a shame in this day and age. Mental health should be as much a priority to someone as physical health is. And while we’re talking about stigma I’d like to point out that I hate the term ‘committed suicide’. It’s linked with religion and suggests that the person is committing a sin or committing a crime. ‘Died by suicide’ is the preferred way to say it, even if it does take a bit of time to get used to saying.
In 2007 by cousin decided to end his life. I debated different ways of saying this, it’s not an easy thing to say or admit to. Nothing sounds right when you try and word it. I think it was probably the hardest thing my family have gone through as a family. I remember the day I found out like it was yesterday, the shock and disbelief, the anger and the grief. The endless wondering of if you knew could you have helped. That’s one of the hardest things to deal with, it goes around and around in your head, it can drive you nuts. You just need to realise that you can’t change what happened and there’s no point in torturing yourself. Anger is another emotion a lot of people feel. I just remember thinking about how desperate you must feel if you think this is the only way out, that this is the only solution. How dark and lonely you must feel. Which is why I think awareness is important, to let people know there are others that were once in their shoes and that it can get better. That there are people here to listen to you, to help you as best they can.
For me, the best way to try and get over it was to talk to family members, try and ‘normalise’ it. To make sure it wasn’t a stigma, to try help each other make sense of it. Personally it wasn’t enough though. Once I went back to college I decided to take up the free counselling service. They were fantastic and I found myself returning two years later to help with more issues. It’s something I know I could benefit with going again and I probably will when I have some more money available. If you think this is something that could benefit you, please talk to your GP about it.
The internet is a source of information and support too.
International Association for Suicide Prevention runs in association with World Health Organisation and are the people that run this World Suicide Prevention Day. It has a Help page with links to Crisis Centres all over the world.
Samaritans is a fantastic charity that helps people. Contact information can be found on their website and there is a great article on emotional health.
U Can Cope is a film that is realised today with the 3 main messages being 1. Anyone can experience suicidal thoughts 2. There is always hope 3. There is always help.
Mind is organisation that has loads of information about mental health and stories about people’s experiences.
Black Dog Tribe is another site with information and forums about mental health. It contains a brilliant blog post from Ruby Wax about feeling the ‘pitter patter’ onset of depression coming back and the mindfulness around it. While I have never used the forum, it strikes me as the perfect place to discuss problems you might be having if remaining anonymous is important to you.
Mental Health Ireland aims to promote positive mental health while also supporting people with mental illness (as well as their families and carers).
Pieta House is a centre for for the prevention of self harm and suicide. They are a fantastic organisation. In May my family and I did their Darkness into Light Walk, where people gather at 4am and walk while the sun rises. It was an amazing experience and I’d definitely do it again next year.
My brother and my boyfriend on the walk this year.
I know this post is long and I was going to stop there but couldn’t without mentioning one last charity. William Winder was a local boy who took his life a few days before his Junior Cert was due to start. His parents set up the William Winder Rainbow Foundation and have been doing so many wonderful fundraisers and events. Their aim is to raise awareness for youth issues and offer support to and information to youth, parents and school. They often post helpful links and tips on their Facebook page. Please go and support them if you can! They also have hoodies and t shirts for sale, something I must go purchase actually.
If World Suicide Prevention Day helps just one person then it is worth it. Please share this post and the links above and help de-stigmatise mental health issues and suicide.
Hope you all have a wonderful week!