I’m writing this in rainy Leicester and reflecting on the week that has gone by. My personal experience of this week outside of my working life has been a reflection of my working life in the respect that the topic of conversation has been around suicide. A friend’s relation had taken their own life, and then on the news was the tragic story of Caroline Flack.
What seems to be clear to me, is that we all vulnerable to thoughts of suicide at times in our lives, but the thing that might prevent us from acting on these thoughts is having the right kind support at the right time. For the lucky ones in our society this role is filled by family and friends that we can offload our feeling with, and share the emotional isolation that goes with thoughts such as these. For others just the stigma attached to admitting thoughts like this creates a barrier to sharing that is hard to overcome. These can be the perception of being seen as weak, not able to cope, being ‘heavy and ‘intense’, being ‘difficult and depressing to be around’, as well as being labelled as having mental health problems. With this in mind, it is hardly surprising that people make the decision not to share suicidal thoughts and perhaps don’t receive the help and support they need. What never fails to surprise me is the amount of people who disclose suicidal thoughts that they have had at some point in their lives, when they feel that they are in a safe and non- threatening environment. It really is quite common! What is also apparent is that these people have never shared those thoughts with anyone and certainly never did at the time. At the Tomorrow Project we are always starting the conversation, without stigma or judgement because it is a topic that really needs to be addressed both locally and nationally. We want to remove the stigma around suicide that prevents it being a conversation that affects and determines mental health policy, and encourages an open debate about suicide and mental health. I hope that these few days and all the media interest propels the topic of suicide not just as a subject that affects celebrities that are harassed and pursued by the media, but as a subject that affects all individuals and communities in the UK at some point and is an indicator that people’s mental health needs are not being met.