By Ruth Fox
I don’t think there’s anything much more devastating and mortifying than hearing about somebody taking their own life. Whether it’s a friend of a friend, a family member, a class-mate or a stranger delaying your morning commute, we mourn suicide. Your heart drops within your chest when you hear the news. You think about the victim’s family, their friends, the police who found them and broke the news; everybody who is involved in that person’s life will be changed forever.
The fact that they saw no way out, no worth in life and no alternative other than to end it all is truly heart-breaking. In hindsight, we often look at what could have been done to prevent that particular suicide from taking place. Well, the harsh truth is that, in that moment, it’s too late. The victim has made up their mind and the decision is made.
A Leading Cause of Death
Suicide remains the leading cause of death for men aged between 20 and 49 in England and Wales and is currently the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, a nation where a person dies by suicide every 11.7 minutes. One in fifteen people has attempted suicide at some point in their life; I’m one of those people. The statistics are clearly shocking. But why do we mourn suicide and yet do so little to prevent it from happening in the first place?
In this country, despite views changing slowly, mental illness is still very much reservedly spoken about. Depression is one of the hardest conditions to talk about despite 4-10% of people in England experiencing it in their lifetime at some point, and more Americans suffering from it than coronary heart disease, cancer, and HIV/AIDS. Depression is, however, the leading cause of suicide worldwide and it’s the shame and negative image that surrounds it which unfortunately hinders people from speaking out and getting the help that they so need.
Losing all Light
Depression’s invisibility cloak makes it hard to understand, hard to spot and easy to hide. It’s an illness which stops people from reaching their full potential. It takes away people’s hobbies, it makes working difficult, and it destroys people’s social interactions. These aspects of life, which depression slowly eats away at, leave an individual hopeless and desperate. The feeling that everybody would be better off without you overwhelms all thoughts and you replay the scenario you have planned, over and over again. The tunnel is endless and you’ve lost all light. It’s a dark, dark place and one which I would never wish it on my worst enemy. But the truth is, it could happen to anyone.
The best way to prevent suicide is through early intervention, diagnosis and treatment.
Accepting that you are struggling is the first step to recovery, asking for help is the second. Both of which take unbelievable bravery, but are perfectly acceptable and allowed. No one wants to have to mourn suicide, no one wants that feeling, whether they know the person or not. Speaking out could not be more important, because recovery is possible, there is a way out and you can get through it, believe me I’ve been there x