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Sunday 10 February 2019


Photo by Marisa Morton on Unsplash
Yep, I'm bringing out the s word. And if you're shocked at how brazen that is, consider this blog post for you.

Society deserves a ~huge~ round of applause for its ever-adapting attitude towards mental health. We used to feel obliged to bury our problems, to stay calm and carry on, to put on a brave face and 'man up'. But now? We're actively encouraged to ~talk~ about the things causing us grief, about our worries and fears, about our (more than) complicated feelings – to talk and talk and talk. Yet, there's still one thing that we don't seem to openly talk about: the act of suicide.

I mean, the word itself is sidestepped wherever possible, frequently substituted for a 'nicer' alternative. As if wording it some other way could make it any less heartbreaking; as if talking of someone 'taking their own life' or 'killing themself' could make it any less shocking; as if avoiding that one simple word could make the act any more socially acceptable. How strange it is to think that three short syllables can have such a profound impact over all of us. For those who aren't afraid of uttering the word, it's likely that 'to commit suicide' sits firmly in your vocabulary. And I genuinely don't know what's worse – a warped fear of using a seven letter word or the echoing insult that someone choosing to die by suicide is a criminal.

It's no secret that the world's views surrounding suicide are incredibly varied. Some of us fall into the 'it's selfish' camp, whilst others lean towards the 'self-determination' ideology. There are those of us who complain about someone jumping in-front of a train, labelling it as an inconvenience and a waste of the tax payer's money. And there are those of us whose hearts shatter when we hear of the suicide of another human being, knowing that that person must have felt as though death was their only option. Like most things, the side of the fence that we stand on all comes down to our personal experiences.

Myself? My feet are firmly on the self-determination side – but they haven't always been. For me, looking at suicide as a selfish act was a coping mechanism. Sometimes it's easier to feel anger than grief, you know? But that anger is a heavy weight to carry. I started to accept that suicide is nothing more than someone wanting to end their life, someone no longer wanting to be here. And that's okay. The event that etched that belief even further into my brain was applying to volunteer for The Samaritans last year. Throughout the training, the volunteers spoke about each of us having the right to choose when we die. Call it playing God if you like, but no one knows what another individual is going through better than that individual. If they're truly capable of making their own decisions, I believe that the choice about their life lies solely with them. I may not have completed the training, but I will take these values with me wherever I go. And I will endeavour to talk openly about suicide, calling it suicide, hoping that it encourages you to do the same.

Remember that help is always available – you’re not alone. Talk to someone at the Samaritans on: 116 123. It's FREE and won't appear on your phone bill.

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