“I was lucky, many are not.” – Simon Gray on surviving suicide
Please note - this article references suicide. Please look after yourself if this is a difficult topic for you to read about.
According to the World Health Organisation, someone loses their life to suicide every 40 seconds. To highlight this harrowing fact, the theme for this year’s World Mental Health Day is ‘suicide prevention’. In this special blog, Simon Gray shares his first-hand experience of suicide and the collective responsibility and role we can have in preventing it.
Suicide is the biggest killer of men under the age of 45 and of women under 34 in the UK. Anything we can do to prevent suicide would not only save thousands of lives but also prevent the devastation that suicide causes for families and friends.
Suicide is often the culmination of a number of factors that present the person with a one way, fits all solution that death is the only and the best way out. From the person’s point of view, it’s a logical decision based on illogical reasoning, thoughts and emotions. I have experienced such intense suicidal thoughts that the prospect of ending life that very night got me through the mental anguish of the day. The thought of suicide almost gave me comfort and relief that I would soon find peace.
By talking to someone the illogical thoughts and feelings can be diluted and given perspective.
One night these thoughts became so strong that I took an overdose. I went to sleep that night content and almost happy that the pain and unbelievable anguish was at an end. This was nearly 17 years ago. It obviously didn’t work. I woke up the next morning feeling very drugged up - but alive, nonetheless. It was a turning point in my life. It felt like a fresh beginning. Everything that happened from that day, both good and bad, was a bonus that I would never have experienced if my suicide attempt had worked. I’ve had 17 years of life, laughter, tears, success, failure, love, marriage and divorce. A 17-year bonus.
I was lucky. Many are not. A person may feel isolated by their situation and unable to express their suicidal thoughts to partners, family or healthcare professionals. By talking to someone the illogical thoughts and feelings can be diluted and given perspective. Communication can help turn an anguished and exhausted mind into the amazing problem-solving machine we all possess. If you solve one problem, then you can solve another and another. If you solve enough problems, then life can look very different. Not as desperate. More hopeful. More blue sky than grey.
Communication with a health professional can lead to medicative support or to professional talking therapies. It can help people get through the dark days and even darker nights. Talking can ease the mental pain. It can make us realise that we are not alone, and that other people have similar thoughts and problems. Talking can help people realise that suicide is not the solution. Life is the solution.