Statistics can inform us about the numbers of people who commit suicide each year in the UK. The numbers can tell how many of those suicides were of men compared to women; the age group and other demographic information. Statistics cannot tell us about the feelings behind the graphs and reports – about how those people who felt isolated or desperate enough to take their own lives finally did just that.
Suicide: Feelings not Figures
Suicide is not about statistics and for that reason I will not be quoting facts and figures to back up what I write. The decision to take our life is about the negative feelings, which all of us can experience from time to time in our lives, and how the sheer weight of those negative feelings can be enough to drive someone into taking their own life in order to escape those overwhelming feelings.
Nearly everyone, at some point in their life, will entertain the idea of taking their own life. This might be prompted by feelings of isolation and loneliness; of fear or deep sorrow; depression or desperation. The one thing almost all suicides will have in common is the inability or lack of opportunity to confide in someone and to find help in overcoming the tidal wave of negativity they find themselves in. All these feelings are ones that we all experience from time to time, but for some people they can become overwhelming and unbearable. Even when we have a friend or family member we want to confide in, we might find it difficult to share such personal feelings or believe that they are not interested or would not listen to us. Reaching out to someone when we feel so dreadfully alone, isolated, can seem impossible.
There are so many different feelings and events which may take us to the point of despair: guilt; fear; anxiety; depression; loneliness; grief; bullying or harassment; abuse – physical and emotional; self-doubt; to name some of them. When we are grappling with our darkest feelings, we may not be able to see a way through to the other side. Others around us might well hold out a helping hand, but we may not recognise the support which is being offered. We can become more and more isolated until we feel completely detached from the world around us. When the pain becomes so intense that we are unable to bear it any longer, the urge to rid ourselves of the pain by taking ourselves out of the situation can lead to our attempting suicide.
While it may be true that even 20 or 30 years ago there was little or no support for individuals battling with these emotions, this is not true today. Many healthcare professionals are trained and experienced in helping people through these crises; and in a society where around 25% of the population can expect to experience some form of mental illness during their lifetime, whether that is depression, anxiety, psychosis or another illness, we need not feel either ashamed or guilty about what we are experiencing. With the right support, we can find ways to identify and resolve the causes of our unhappiness, allowing us to move on to a more positive future.
What can You Do?
Do you know anyone in your family or circle of friends who is suicidal? Do you struggle with suicidal thoughts and feelings? If so, please take action to save a life, whether that is your own life or that of someone you love. You can contact the person’s doctor; or phone one of the organisations which exist to provide support for exactly that kind of situation – whether that is the Samaritans; Papyrus; Calm; or another support body you may already know of.
There is a way through and it only takes one phone call to save a life.