The following week I talked with him at length about the startling lack of response he received from some people. It got me thinking; maybe I could write a list of my own personal FAQs/Tips for those who are perhaps recently bereaved and in particular those who just feel helpless looking in. This changed after my brother Johnny completed suicide in 2014.
As someone who holds this issue close to my heart I have seen the ins and outs of every different reaction to mental illness you can imagine, the good and the bad. "We all do that," in relation to my obsessive panics about germs or "we all get a bit down sometimes" in relation to my suicidal tendencies.
It is marvellous to see men mentioned in relation to suicide. Yes, it is historic. The journey now needs to be about how we tackle the issue. The voluntary sector has a role. As does government - we need a national strategy, with teeth. Suicide is the single biggest killer of men aged under 45 in the UK, so let's move on from the name-check and look at a national plan.
In our county there is no specialist personality disorders service, despite NICE guidelines stating that mental health trusts should develop such services. Plans for a specialist PD service were disbanded last year after a decision was made to divert the money to a different department instead. Our clients were devastated at this news and felt it reflected a lack of prioritisation of their needs.
Suicide is preventable. I am hopeful that Ministers will take up the cause of suicide prevention with the urgency and vigour it so desperately requires. Now must be the time for real change to stop this unnecessary and deplorable loss of life. Our report should provide some useful recommendations to inform this task.
Although Christmas is predominantly a time of sadness for me, because it is for so many of our clients, it is still a time of hope. I believe that all our clients can survive, and indeed they all have so far. At our Suicide Crisis Centre, we care for them and do all we can to support them through this particularly dark time. It's a privilege to be able to do so.