I was on stand-by with SBS to translate a video from Icelandic to English for them for an episode of Insight, a couple of weeks ago - in the end it turned out the video wasn't about suicide and they couldn't use it. Still, I tuned into that week's episode of Insight (the final for this season), and listen to the discussion on suicide and suicide prevention. More specifically the discussion was about whether or not it was a good idea to speak publicly about suicide. The concern being that many believe talking about suicide might glamourise it, might encourage others to do it.
I'm going to suggest that speaking about suicide is not only good, but essential.
One thing that came up was that a person doesn't need to be acutely depressed to become suicidal. One woman who had attempted suicide only a few weeks earlier said.
JENNY BROCKIE: Yvette, were you ringing the bell do you think?
YVETTE AMBROSETTI-TOVEY: Yeah, I thought that I was ringing the bell. At the same time, like I said, I don't think it's been discussed, you know literally I've always said I would never, ever try to take my life and it was a span of ten minutes of absolute, I was tired of dealing with my depression anxiety 24/7 and it was literally in that ten minutes that I made a really silly decision. And that's what amazed me, it was so quick. Like I didn't even realise that I was going to take my own life.
JENNY BROCKIE: What would have helped though at that time? What would have helped you?
YVETTE AMBROSETTI-TOVEY: Do you know, the next day, because the family got together and we found like Suicide Line and Mind Support and thing like that that I never knew existed prior to that. You know, that actually helped because even the next day and the next few days that I was feeling really low and everyone had to go to work and carry on with their lives, I rang up the suicide line and discussed these feelings before it got really severe to the point that I was on that day. So --
The transcript of the episode can be found here.
This rings true for me. I have thought about suicide many times. I have known many people who have attempted suicide, and a few who have succeeded in their attempts. I know for me, when it comes up, it's sudden, out of the blue - usually in the dark of night, and just as suddenly, a little while later, the feeling is gone and I'm left feeling relieved and embarrassed. I also realised, watching this discussion, that I don't know where to go to reach out. Which is why I thought I'd share some resources here.
What I want is for people to FIND the resources - even if you're not depressed, even if you believe you would NEVER consider suicide. Find them if you have children, particularly children over 7 or 8. Know how to get the resources. If you have older children, SHOW them what the numbers are, and what the websites look like, so they are familiar and form a visual imprint in their minds.
Talking about suicide doesn't make people suicidal.
My eldest - who is almost twelve has recently asked me about depression and suicide. Of course, as a mum, my very first reaction was WHAT? Why is my child even thinking about these topics??? Sadly, there is a very good chance he'll eventually know someone who has committed suicide amongst his peers. It is that common.
So, let's talk about it.
Here are some Australian Suicide Prevention Resources.
The Suicide Line - 1300 651 251 (This is an Australian phone number, if you live overseas, you will need to Google for your country's numbers).
Life Line - 13 11 14
Suicide Callback Service - 1300 659 467
Kids Helpline - 1800 55 1800
Reach Out - Reach Out is a website that provides forums and fact sheets and other resources on various issues from mental illness, to self harm, anorexia and so on.
PLEASE familiarise yourself with these resources so that if, one day, you or someone you know, is in crisis you WILL know where to turn for support.
On a final note, I want to say, that people who have at some time thought about suicide, are not always thinking about suicide. Every person is different. Some people are chronically depressed. Other have brief, acute bouts of depression. Others are dealing will terminal illness or chronic pain. There is no one size fits all. Some, feel they are fine right up until the moment they suddenly just can't take it any more, but that moment can pass, too.
Admitting to having considered suicide is tough. I have worried that people might think they can't talk to me because they might "set me off", or that I'm suffering an ongoing mental illness. Neither of these feel true to me. The reason I even mention my own thoughts of suicide is to show they can occur to anyone and to show I understand what it is to reach that dark place, to grapple with the pain that is so intense life no longer seems worth fighting for - this is not a pity party for me. I also want to show that that time can pass, and life can be good on the other side of it.
If you have come here because you are considering suicide. Please speak to someone first, someone anonymous, who will listen.
~ feel free to share this post on Facebook and Twitter, I want to spread the word about resources ~