In the last few months we’ve lost several people in the public to suicide. The most recent have been males: One from a well known a 90s band Prodigy and one from current reality shows. As I’ve read the stories, it’s full of people saying ‘we thought he was OK’ or ‘They’ve got fame, money and success’. Yet in spite of this, we’ve still lost these and countless other people to suicide.
There are endless campaigns telling guys to speak out. ‘It’s important to talk and share your problems’. The more men we lose, the more focus there is to encourage opening up. While this is fantastic, it’s only part of the way to solving a problem, and for me there is still a long way we as a society need to go.
Firstly, it isn’t just men. Yes, statistically men find it harder to open up and more lives are lost to suicide in men. That does not mean we can brush women under the carpet. We’re all on a journey, we’re all at risk of struggling and we all deserve the encouragement to open up.
Secondly, is encouraging enough? How can we expect anyone to open up if they don’t have the opportunity to do so. Sending a tweet to a few hundred followers explaining the benefits of talking, though as positive as it, is impersonal. How do individuals know you’re prepared to listen?
I’ve had a difficult time over the last 18 months. I’ve quit my job, launched my own business, we’ve lost 2 babies to miscarriage and endured multiple failed fertility treatments. Financially things have been tough and as a result of all of these things my mental health has gotten worse. My panic disorder has returned and I’m no longer in a financial position to fund treatment.
In the last 18 months, how many people in my life have sat me down or dropped me a line to say ‘I know you’ve been through some things. How are you coping?’.
The answer? 0.
This isn’t a pity party. This is my way of highlighting how important reaching out can be. If no one asks how I’m doing, do they really want me to sit ranting about my troubles? If they did, wouldn’t they have asked? Has my best friend who knows exactly what we’ve been through asked once how I’m coping? No. So how does that make opening up any easier?
It doesn’t. That’s why it’s so important to not just encourage talking but to give people the opportunity to do so. Reach out. If someone’s been having a particularly hard time, give them the opportunity to speak out – don’t just expect it. A text, a phone call, a lunch with a friend, it can all contribute and help someone to cope with a difficult situation.
We all have room to grow, improve and the ability to help someone else. Why wouldn’t we?