Mental health and suicide are two topics that don’t get enough media attention or attention in general. The stories reported in newspapers and on websites are unfortunately those where an individual has taken their own life, unable to see a way where they can carry on living.
Recently stories of suicide have centred upon teenagers who have been bullied at school, often because they are open about their sexuality. As illustrated in the ‘It Gets Better’ campaign and TV show Glee, there are many issues an openly gay teenager has to face when growing up that many people couldn’t even comprehend. Unfortunately for those individuals and their loved ones, they see no way out and decide to commit suicide. Imagine what must be going through your head to kill yourself; to rationally decide to end your suffering, write out a suicide note to your loved ones, telling them that none of this was their fault and in the blink of an eye disappear from existence forever. It’s beyond heartbreaking. I wish I could have sat these kids down and reassured them that everything would be okay if they were strong and that it genuinely does get better. Although I didn’t know any of the teenagers who have tragically taken their own lives, I feel like I have a connection with them. Having been through my own coming out journey during my teenage years, I can honestly say that it is hard and sometimes you do wonder what the point of existing is if you’re never going to be seen as equal.
It isn’t just openly gay people who have thoughts of suicide, however. Many people, more than you could imagine, suffer from depression and suicidal thoughts. Whether they are members of a minority and are the subject of discrimination or their brain is wired in such a way that does not allow them to experience any kind of emotion other than ‘numb’, feeling isolated can lead to wanting to end your own life. I’ve been there myself. I’m the first to admit that I have experienced these feelings quite a number of times. There was a period of two and a half weeks where I didn’t even eat a meal, solely because my brain had shut off and I couldn’t see the point in living any longer. Not only was my brain ill but it was making my body ill also. Some days getting out of bed was impossible. Some days I used to lie there, going over in my head how I would kill myself when my brain allowed my body to function. Reading that may make some people feel uncomfortable and it is these people who shy away from helping or doing anything about it.
I saw the hashtag #WorldSuicidePreventionDay trending on Twitter earlier and thought, what’s the point in typing out this hashtag unless you’re going to do something about it? It’s all well and good putting something on your Twitter feed for your followers to notice, however it is not going to help somebody who is at the deepest and darkest depths of depression. Nor is it going to take away that bottle of pills from a person who has just bought a bottle of vodka and is planning on slowly slipping away from consciousness, preparing to be erased from the face of the Earth. While it is good to raise awareness, this isn’t something that’s just come about. Suicide is not a behaviour that has suddenly been thrust upon society. It’s been happening for years and not enough is ever done to prevent it. From somebody who knows what it’s like to want to disappear from existence and then take it one frightening step further, please do not use the hashtag and then forget about the issue. There are people out there who are crying out for help; YOUR help.