If you are suffering from suicidal thoughts, please call Samaritans on 08547 90 90 90 (available 24 hours a day), email firstname.lastname@example.org, or if you’re a young person needing support, please call HOPELineUK on 0800 068 41 41 (available Mon-Fri: 10am-10pm, weekends: 2pm-10pm & bank holidays: 2pm-5pm)
How do people blog full-time? I seem to have days where I completely forget that I write here, before panicking and remember that I haven’t written in two weeks – and I that should probably write something new to remind my readers that I’m still here!
So, I thought I’d kick myself up the bum and write about something very important. On September 10th, it is World Suicide Prevention Day. Suicide, as with most mental health issues, still seems to be a taboo subject in society. Granted, it’s a difficult and distressing idea to wrap your head around – that there are people out there who are so overwhelmed with pain and despair that they would take their own lives.
According to the IASP (International Association of Suicide Prevention) website above, over 800,000 people die from suicide each year. For an idea of the scale of that number, that is around the population of the Greater London area. I don’t know about anyone else, but this number blows my mind.
Suicide was in the news last year after the legendary Robin Williams took his life after a long battle with depression, the world in shock at the sudden and tragic loss of someone who seemed to be a positive presence in so many lives – all while he fought his own demons with his mental health and addictions. The thought that this kind, funny clown of a man being in so much anguish that he felt like death was his only way out, was incredibly hard for the public to take in.
I have made no secret of my past suicide attempts. As part of my BPD, I have found myself in times of self-destruction wanting to end my life as I felt I could not cope with what was happening around me. Despite this, there have been three times I can recall when I have taken a long time to think about killing myself – how I would do it, what my note would say, who I would leave my belongings to, etc. I haven’t felt suicidal in about a year now, and I’m happy to say that.
I feel very detached from my own suicidal tendencies, like I am with most of the things about my disorder which tends to disturb other people, but I have been significantly affected by a friend’s suicide.
His name was Stephen, he was in my Film Studies class in my first year of college. He was funny, handsome, sweet and his smile was just totally captivating. He lit up the entire room when he smiled, and when he spoke you were just entranced by everything he said to you – even if it was just him talking about his job at the cinema in town. My favourite memory of him is one I’ll treasure. We had been in college less than three months, and I was still keeping up with my work. One lesson involved writing up a small analysis of a scene from Rocky, and it was for a teacher who would seriously give you a hard time if you didn’t get your homework done. I was sitting in the college foyer with a friend, when Stephen and his best friend/partner-in-crime came over, pleading with us both to see if we had done the work. I said I had, and turning on the charm with no effort at all, Stephen asked if he could borrow my work to write a rough piece of their own so they had something to turn in.
I couldn’t say no to him! He was just so charismatic and sweet. So, I agreed they could borrow my work as long as they returned it before the lesson. All of a sudden, Stephen bends down to the floor where I’m still sat and plants a kiss on my cheek. I blushed scarlet and swooned a little too. True to their promise, Stephen and his friend handed me my paper before we went into class, and when they handed in their work as the teacher collected, Stephen gave me a wink and a thumbs-up.
The following year, Stephen didn’t return to college. Months passed as I was in a different Film Studies group, and I often looked out for him whenever I went to the cinema.
January 2008. I’m working on my Media coursework in the computer room when Manipulative Ex calls me – I tell him I’m working, but he insists I have to meet him by the vending machines. I go to meet him in a huff, annoyed at the interruption, until I saw my boyfriend’s ashen face as he sat at the table.
“Stephen’s dead. He hanged himself.” I almost collapsed, I immediately began sobbing. My ex wasn’t exactly comforting, and insisted I left Stephen’s best friend alone, but when I saw him, I just had to hug him – the guy is twice my height and yet I threw my arms around his waist and squeezed as tight as I could. He was heartbroken. I couldn’t believe it… I didn’t want to think about it, but there it was. Beautiful, charming, smiling Stephen – hanging himself and dying alone.
I never got over it. His death haunts me more than any attempt on my own life that I have ever made.
We need to remember people like Stephen, those who have suffered in silence, and those left behind when someone they love chooses to commit suicide. That is why, on September 10th, Papyrus – an organisation based here in the UK dedicated to supporting young people and preventing young suicide – are turning Birmingham purple! Over the last ten days and until the day itself, Papyrus have been releasing images on Facebook showing seventeen of their Young People’s Champions wearing purple across places in the city to represent the statistic that 1 in 17 young people are experiencing suicidal thoughts at any time.
I’ll certainly be showing my support by wearing purple. I’ll also be online, spreading awareness via Twitter and Facebook. What will you be doing?