The catalyst for my pain was the breakdown of my marriage and being separated from my family and children. The next committed relationship I was in that gave me another beautiful child also fell apart - so I was trying to navigate my way through a new life without all of my kids with me every day or at least nearby. From the heartbreak that resulted out of those few years - heartbreak I still bury down and don't speak about - words can't describe the pain and hurt I felt then for my children.
In 2012 when I had my suicide attempt, I went through a number of stages and situations that bought me directly to that point. The day I was in the biggest fight of my life with my mind when I wrote my suicide note. I wrote that note and placed it directly next to my phone, before attempting to take my life. I left the note directly next to my phone - what does that tell you?? I was in the fight of my life, I wrote my note and placed it directly next to a device that had everyone's number in it - my parents, my friends, my kids - but I couldn't pick it up to call, I was in too much pain.
The thing is the day I attempted suicide, I didn't want to die - I just wanted the pain to go away, the pain to end & I felt that be me not being here anymore, was the only way to do so.
I have travelled the world sharing my story to raise awareness for mental illness and suicide. I have been privileged to hear many other mental health advocates say the same thing as what I do when it comes to tough time. That it is imperative that you talk to people about it. I just wish it was that easy to talk about.
In times of despair, whether it be from the mildest of depression, to the frightening times of talking yourself away from suicide; the last thing on your mind is talking about it to someone. It is important that you do and I 100% agree with that. What needs to be known though is that when you are in that black hole so deep and are in complete times of desperation, you go through steps before hand. I know from my perspective that I can't pick up a phone, text message or call someone who might be able to help. In these critical times, we are just trying to win the battle that is right in front of our face, the immediate thing on our mind, is to stay alive.
Here's the challenge. Let's not wait for people to talk about their pain. Let's not wait for people to tell you they need help or are suffering in silence, let's go to them.
We live in a world where we are so caught up in our own problems and our own worries. A world where we don't care to pay attention of others behaviours. Even when our loved ones and friends are hurting, we don't notice because we are so caught up in what is going on in our own world.
I believe the most effective way to reduce an already crippling suicide rate around the world, is to pay attention to each other. It is about connectedness! In many situations we don't see hard times coming because we just aren't paying attention. We might think we are, but are we really?
When someone is struggling mentally, they can only pretend for so long. A person will begin to exhibit physical behaviours that make it obvious to those around them that they aren't in a good place. Behaviours like isolating themselves, lack of appetite, mood swings, sleeping too much or not sleeping enough, being unable to control their emotions (eg. crying all the time) or unable to get out of bed at all. We just have to be paying attention to see these signs or hear them. Whether it be through their words or physical behaviours, we/they can only pretend for so long. Their words will show, their behaviours will show.
We can not rely solely on our communities to speak up in their times of desperation, because knowing from my own experience, it wasn't through fear of judgement, or thinking that I was showing a sign of weakness. It was purely because the depression and suicidal ideation I was suffering were so blinding to me that it clouded my judgement. I believed I was a burden, that I was worthless. I was literally fighting for my life and I could not reach for help. I also felt that people probably didn't care so why bother asking for help?
Looking back of course I know I should have reached out, but I was too busy fighting to stay alive. It would have been so much easier if someone close to me, had noticed my behaviours, noticed that me isolating and withdrawing from community and those close.
Have a think about the people in your community - your circle of friends - are there friends or family you usually hang out with that are withdrawing from social situations, isolating themselves or showing signs of deeper emotional or mental pain? If they are, what are you doing about it?
My good friend from USA Kevin Hines attempted to take his life by jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge in 2000 - on the bus on traveling to the bridge, he was crying his eyes out, visibly upset and crying; not one person took 30 seconds to ask him is he ok???
There is so much to learn from in that sentence alone.
How many times have we walked passed someone we can tell is upset? How many times have seen something written online and ignored it?
Not only is it the one who is going through tough times, responsibility to speak up, tell you they are going through the tough times, it's everyone's responsibility to notice the smallest of changes in behaviours and help those talk about them.
The greatest thing you can ever say to someone is - 'what can I do to help' ?
Don't take the risk in letting someone 'snap out of it themselves' - suicide is forever and it is everyone's responsibility to help save the life of someone who believes they don't deserve to be here.