*The following post contains topics that may be triggering. Please ensure you are in a safe place before reading. If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide then please call a helpline (Lifeline: 13 11 14 Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636), visit your GP or head to your nearest emergency department*
I ummed and ahhed about whether I should write this post. I’ve had my say on my Facebook Page, I thought that maybe that was enough. It will never be enough though.
Today the world lost another soul to suicide. The media announced this morning that authorities had received a 911 call to Robin Williams residence. The actor was found deceased in his home, with suicide being pointed to as the cause.
Robin Williams touched a lot of lives. Over the last few months there seems to be a lot of celebrity deaths, they seem to be coming in quick succession. However the outpouring of grief from the general public for Williams’ death has been something entirely different. Every second post on my social media was a tribute to the man and his contribution to the entertainment world. He touched a lot of lives.
The topic of the day has been suicide and the need for people to reach out for help. There have been a few posts about Williams’ death being the reason why we need to start the conversation about suicide. I don’t want to take anything away from this tragic event, and his grieving loved ones but unfortunately he is one of many people who will take their life around the world.
The time for the conversation was long before this death, and it was a lot longer before the last celebrity suicide too. Although the truth is that many of us started the conversation off our own backs. We live with thoughts of suicide, of self harm and feelings of despair every single day.
I think people are scared of starting the conversation. They are worried that they will say the wrong thing, that they won’t know what to do. The truth is that you might screw up, there probably will be times when you are absolutely stumped as to how to help your loved one. However that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.
Start with a simple question ‘R U OK’. Be prepared to listen, to really listen. I always believe that if you don’t have the time or the desire to listen then it’s better for everyone involve if you don’t ask the question at all. Feeling alone is one thing, but to feel rejected after thinking you have someone who cares is like kicking them while they are down.
The most important part of asking how a friend is, is making sure you follow up. After a crisis it can feel overwhelming going back to normal life, and the quiet can be all encompassing. Send a text message, meet up for lunch or dinner, send an email..anything at all.
If you are struggling yourself, then please speak up. Tell a friend, your doctor, your partner, someone. Keep talking until someone listens. It will be scary opening up, you will feel anxious but when you find someone who takes you seriously, who cares, the feeling of relief is overwhelming.
The conversation started long before I started blogging. We still have a long way to go, there are still so many people suffering in silence and while we allow people to censor our words the stigma will continue. Until we say fuck you to those who are uncomfortable with our truth then more people will continue to be hurt.