It’s Ok To Talk

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day, a day which focuses on the subject of Suicide, the word that can mean anything to anyone but ultimately is the word we want to avoid and it’s easy to pretend it doesn’t even exist. 800,000 die by suicide across the globe every year, with over 6,000, an average of 18 every single day loosing their life as a result of suicide but many more face attempts or thoughts around suicide. The vast majority of people will be touched by the issue of suicide at some point in their life, directly or indirectly with 1 in 4 people facing a mental health problem in any given year in the UK.

Suicide has been prevalent in my life for many years, relatives have faced it and friends have faced it. I am lucky that I haven’t lost anyone to suicide, but there have been some very close moments. I have been, thankfully, able to help and support a number of friends over the last 10 or so years in their darkest moments, all have come a very long way since and are achieving some great things and furthering their recovery. Some of those people were in the tight grip of suicide, it can be one of the scariest and most haunting experiences when someone tells you they want to die or are planning to kill themselves.

I have found it extremely daunting anytime those words are said or typed, it’s a desperate moment for them but also for you, it suddenly feels like you have a duty to ensure the person isn’t going to follow through on their plan and that can involve some tough choices, agonising thought processes and ultimately can risk your own mental well-being. It is important to put yourself first, ensure you are safe and well because otherwise, you are no use to anyone. It is also important to seek help and advice and there are some amazing charities and online recourses that can assist you in assisting someone else.

Before I was diagnosed with Depression in late 2010, I didn’t know much about mental health, I didn’t think I would ever get depressed or face suicide. In 2014 as a result of a whole host of problems going on in my life at the time as well as a spider’s web of undiagnosed, unmanaged mental health problems and ADHD I began to face, for the first time, suicidal thoughts and feelings. It was nothing like I could have even imagined, the darkness, the numbness but also the pain. By this point, I was more aware of mental health and was able to take action to prevent my plans going further.

I have since fought long and hard for the correct care for myself and dedicated my spare time to writing, campaigning and speaking about mental health, suicide, and discrimination. My complex mental health problems and ADHD have tested me to my very limits at times, it’s torn my life apart, prevented me from achieving my degree, taken away my dream job and forced me to give up so much. But it has also meant that I am more aware, knowledgeable and stronger as a result. There are still times that I face the intrusive nature of suicidal thoughts.

Talking is underrated, it is a massively powerful act, it is always the best option on the table if you find yourself at breaking point, a low point or a panic point. If there is a friend or family member available, reach out, if not there is always someone at the end of the line at Samaritans 116 123 (UK) waiting to listen and talk. Equally, if you notice someone close to you is quieter than usual or acting differently make the connection and just ask them how they are, give them space to talk be there to listen.

Here are some useful links:

We are lucky to be living in a time when attitudes are changing for the better around mental health and suicide, there is a huge range of charities and projects out there spreading the word, opening up conversations and listening to those in need.

It’s okay to talk.

© 2017 James Woods