A short but vitally important post today.
It is the 2019 World Mental Health Day on Thursday (10th October) and the focus this year is suicide prevention. The statistics regarding this make for horrifying and desperately saddening reading:
- Someone takes their own life every 40 seconds.
- Suicide accounts for twice as many deaths as murder & manslaughter (i.e. a person is more likely to take their own life than have their life taken by another).
- Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year-olds and suicide levels are increasing amongst 15-19-year-olds.
- Suicide affects people of all age groups in all countries.
A few weeks ago I wrote about the importance of trying to talk to someone if you suffer from any mental health issues, rather than bottling it up ( link here ). Today I’m going to turn that on its head and ask those of you who don’t suffer to look out for those who do.
Despite having had issues with anxiety and low self-esteem rather than depression, I know from experience that many will find it easier to bottle up such feelings rather than seeking an outlet, especially where depression is concerned. If it wasn’t for a complete sea change in my outlook earlier this year, I would still be bottling this up rather than openly discussing it. Discussions with family and friends who have opened up to me since I started the blog suggest that many people still find ‘keeping it in’ to be much more preferable (and easier?) than discussing with someone else.
So, with that in mind, I’m asking you all to think about your close friends and family members. Are there any who you feel may be dealing with issues such as these, to any degree? Do any seem troubled or different to the person you once knew? Do you have a gut feeling, a hunch, that there may be something wrong? If so, please approach them. Ask them, with sensitivity, if everything is ok or if there’s anything they’d like to talk about in confidence. Suggest that you’ll be a good listener and won’t make any judgements. Let them know that you care about them and want to be a good friend / relative.
Quite often these days, when presented with a potentially tricky situation, I ask myself ‘what’s the worst that could happen?’ Please consider that. What is the worst that could happen in this situation? They might not open up? There may not be an issue there and they may find it a little strange that you’re asking? They may tell you to mind your own business? In extreme circumstances, they may take offence and have a few stern words for you? But, alternatively, they just might have been waiting a long time for someone to ask them these questions and may open up in a manner which will be really beneficial for them. You could be the considerate listener they’ve needed for some time. You could be doing them a huge favour just by putting the kettle on and having an honest and open chat over a brew.
Given the stats above, I’m sure most of us will have been affected by suicide to some degree. People I know have taken their own lives and whenever this has happened, the initial emotions I’ve experienced have been desperate sadness and complete shock. I can recall two clear instances where I, and many others, had no idea at all that the people who resorted to this most desperate of actions were experiencing any issues. It isn’t easy instigating the type of discussion I’ve mentioned above, especially if people are really good at hiding their true feelings. However, please do be more mindful of just how prevalent these issues are these days and just how many people they affect. Keeping a close eye on those you love and care for may well turn out to be one of the most important things you’ll ever do. Family and friends are precious. Life is precious. Have that quiet chat if you feel there’s a need to; be a shoulder to lean on; lend a sympathetic ear. Let’s continue removing the stigma which still exists around discussing mental health issues and let’s try to reduce those hideous statistics.
Thanks for reading and take care.