Today is known as World Suicide Prevention day, a day which focuses on a subject matter which is uncomfortable and unpleasant for so many of us.
Whether you are somebody suffering from depression or somebody who is observing a close one who is suffering from depression, or whether you are looking after someone who is suffering from depression and considering ending their life, it is a difficult experience all round
I remember when I worked in mental health as a nurse I lost one person to suicide on ‘my watch’ so to speak. I knew this person was going to commit suicide and the suicide did not happen on the ward. it did not take away from the human suffering and difficulty that ensued for all involved.
The patient under my team’s care was somebody who had been admitted onto the ward with a diagnosis of borderline schizophrenia. He was brought in by the police while kicking and fighting, and placed under a section of the Mental Health Act.
Once he had calmed down albeit with resignation, there were many discussions that took place. He was a lovely young man with good reasoning ability.
The defining discussion was one in which he shared with me that he felt he did not have a future. his reasoning was that he was aware enough to understand that with the label he had been given, there was a stigma attached and his chances of holding down a job having a girlfriend and a family were slim at best.
Additionally there was the prejudice of a society looking on that would make all the above very difficult. His reasoning was quite logical and he felt his quality of life if would ebb away bit by bit and he did not have the resource to deal with that.
One weekend whilst on hospital leave he reportedly said goodnight to his is mother, told her he loved her and he next morning he was found hanging in the barn of their property.
While many deplore the act of suicide as an act of cowardice, this example shows that the issues are far more difficult. Some of the many themes that runs through suicidal feelings is one of intense isolation, poor available choices, and a feeling of powerlessness, accompanied by a hopelessness and despair which sees no light at the end of the tunnel.
It is also accompanied by an awareness of the stigma that is very much endemic in our society, one that simply advocates that people pull themselves together and think positively.
On a personal front I recall the time I battled with suicidal feelings as a result of enduring domestic violence, bullying, murder and an enduring conflict and battle with my sexuality in my early 20’s onwards. I felt like a leper in the face of society’s prejudice and bullying.
Had it not been for a period of time living with a family that mirrored unconditional love to me beyond religion, who knows where my life would have ended up.
Somewhat ironically it was the news of a young man who hung himself on account of of his sexuality and the conflicts with the church he belonged to to at that time, which shocked me and eventually took me down a path of questioning a lot of things.
My resolution did not come overnight. My suffering and agony played out in a quiet desperation and the tragic events that played out at home accentuated that suffering. But resolution came.
I was a very educated person and yet education was not enough I needed the inspiration of people who had journeyed and overcome in order to reignite my sense of life. I needed to know it could be done .
One night I had a dream which became my turning point. My dark night of the soul became a backcloth for a journey of transformation which I wrote about in my book and song Breaking Free.
This was a book I had not intended to write because the nature of the tragedy that played out in my family life was very public. My need for privacy was intense and I had no idea if I would ever recover either of those.
The dream became my anchor and helped me, and overtime my desire to inspire and help other people overtook my need for privacy and many years later I wrote the book and song.
This book was not about having my fifteen minutes of fame and telling my story. It was about an ache of the soul and a desire of the heart to try to ensure that other people could be spared the pain I went through or at least shorten their suffering by sharing my journey and my discoveries that got me over to the other side.
A key part of that was not just learning who I truly was at the core but acquiring the tools and resources to transform that into new life, one I could live with newfound joy and purpose as its thread.
Not everyone will embrace life and one young man who suffered from depression and suicidal feelings has offered a perspective for those who still feel they cannot continue with life. It is an open and honest account which he suggests could ironically save a life rather than see the close of life. See his article here on Medium
Thankfully I found that place called life, and it did not come from a text book. The message of the book is part of my life’s work and I am so thankful for every life that it has touched. However I also know that we need more people to share their stories of overcoming so that people know that this can be an actual reality for them not just a theoretical concept.
It will help many to break the isolation of their journey give them new hope and a process by which they can rediscover themselves and life in a new way.
There are those who are doing that. Don’t Hold Back by Emma-Jane Taylor and The Dirt Merchants by Henning Morales are examples of people who are leading the way through their lives to inspire young people and adults alike. We need more of this and we need inspirational films also, to leverage technology to get these messages of hope and new life out into the world.
In the meantime I encourage everybody irrespective of today to become more aware of other people rather than turn a blind eye, and to to find moments to express kindness, human touch and genuine unconditional love.
You never know what a person may be going through in their day. Depression does not always show itself in a sad face. it can be hidden behind a smile and you never know your act of kindness might save a life and show somebody a new path.
If you are somebody seeking hope and inspiration I encourage you to read the journeys of people who have overcome and found new life again.
Most of these books like mine can be found on Amazon and even if you’re somebody that is struggling for money you can open up a free account on Audible and access many of these books in audio format for free for at least 30 days.
Whatever you choose to do my hope and prayer is that you make this day count and experience more abundance in your own life as well as maybe to impart something of that abundance to the life of another.
Today I am grateful for a new day and for the chance to live, to be me, to create with joy and purpose. I am also so thankful for all those along the way who imparted or injected life into me without judgement and with an unconditional love that has been a huge part of my recovery my growth and allows me to live and share with you in this way today