What will make you read me?
For years now I have been wondering what it is that makes people stop and pay attention. What makes us read an article or a blog like this? What makes us stop and look at a poster in the street?
What is it that makes us notice? Or alternatively- what makes us ignore- turn away from an act of violence in the street, ignore the scars on someone’s arms or the pain in their face?
Because if I understand that well enough, surely i can use that to reach more people; I can use that to get you to read this blog and hopefully learn something.
I write about self harm.
I write about suicide.
I write about things we don’t want to even think about. So how on earth do I get people to engage with these issues, when they’re so ugly to contemplate? How then do I get you to read a blog about such things?
Perhaps if I’m controversial?
or perhaps if I offer something helpful, or hopeful, or real?
I’m yet to discover.
But what I am sure of, is that these issues are amongst us even if we don’t want to think about them or read about them. Not thinking about self harm, won’t make it go away. It won’t make the friend that we know is hurting themselves, stop. Nor will ignoring suicide make it less of a part of our reality.
It’s awful, it really is.
It’s shocking that suicide is the second biggest killer of our young people. But suicide happens. And it happens to real people just like you and I. It happens to people that are loved and have friends and families. It happens to people we know.
So how do we learn to notice that someone’s struggling? How do we let ourselves listen when someone is trying to tell us that they need us.
I think firstly, it’s important to let go of fear and of the fallacy that pretending it isn’t happening is a helpful thing to do. Or that it will make a difference. It won’t.
Let yourself notice. Let yourself read, and think, and feel and hear. If you do all of these things, you might just be the one on the end of the phone when someone is struggling. That might be enough to help them to turn a corner. That can’t happen if you don’t notice. Noticing creates an opportunity to share.
You don’t have to have the right words. You just have to be there.
For people in distress, often it is knowing someone is there and cares that makes all the difference. You don’t need to be trained or qualification- you just need to be you.
Let’s together take tiny steps to reaching more people in their distress.