To be bereaved is a tough enough road as it is. To be bereaved by suicide takes the pain to another level. There is so much taboo around talking about it. There is the burden of guilt which often lands on our shoulders. Could we have done more? What signs did we miss? How could this have happened? There is the language of suicide. To commit suicide takes us to committing a crime because it was considered one until 1961 in the United Kingdom when an act of parliament was passed decriminalizing it. Now we say take their own life, die by suicide and this takes away some of the stigma surrounding this way of dying. It is clear that one of the issues for people who take their own lives is the inability to talk to anyone about it. Feelings bottle up inside and then everything becomes too much. The dramatic increase in the number of young men killing themselves is linked to the old stereotypes of men feeling they should be able to cope, that it is their job to support others rather than seek support. It is also true that they methods they choose tend to be less reversible than those sought by women. Professions with access to the necessary aids to suicide and high levels of stress also show disproportionately high figures – doctors and farmers for example.
There is help out there – some preventative, some supporting the bereaved. Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide is a charity set up by and for those bereaved by suicide. There are local groups around the country and as we all know being in the company of those who have suffered the same challenges as us can be hugely supportive and reduce our loneliness. Whether it is https://breastmates.org/ helping you with your cancer journey or sitting with others who have experience a death by suicide these groups really do know how to walk alongside you. We can see others further ahead on the road and how they are managing their lives and believe that one day we too will feel more able to cope even if life can never go back to what is what like before it happened. SOBS can be contacted on www.uk-sobs.org.uk – 0844 561 6855
There is also Papyrus working to prevent suicide in young people and the reason for this blog is that I discovered they have been chosen at the Radio 4 appeal charity for the week of the 8-14th September. They do fantastic work and offer advice for those feeling suicidal and those fearing someone they know may be having suicidal thoughts. Do visit their website https://papyrus-uk.org or call their confidential helpline which they call a hopeline which is a lovely bit of reframing.sms:0778 620 9697 tel:0800 068 41 41 firstname.lastname@example.org
Young people have a particularly hard time at nowadays living in the constant lure and glare of social media. I was bullied persistently in my first year at secondary school. I never told a soul. But at least when I got on my bike to go home it was over. I cannot imagine the torture of it continuing 24/7. Thank goodness for charities like Papyrus and SOBS at a time when cuts on government spending have had a devastating impact on the funding of youth services, CAMs and other teams that used to provide a far better safety net than they can at the moment.