On the surface, my father was someone who had everything, yet he still chose to end his life. If his suicide has taught me anything, it's the importance to not hesitate in getting things out in the open, to share challenges and struggles with those you trust and to not be afraid of expressing who you truly are. I still continue to work on these skills myself and I deeply recognise them to be the remedy for the generations of men who choose to give up on their lives each day.
This Christmas, rather than spending precious time with our families and taking some much-needed time off, we will be attempting to row 3000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean, battling sleep deprivation, 40-foot waves and trying to keep down bags of uninspiring rehydrated food... We are taking on this challenge in aid of the James Wentworth-Stanley Memorial Fund (JWSMF), a charity which was formed 10 years ago following the tragic death of our captain Harry's brother James.
The title of this series triggered in me the firmly held belief that any attempt to build a modern man must incorporate building a modern boy. Declaring my interest, I am the mother of a daughter and son, both primary age with less than two years between them. The difference in how they are treated and talked to by the modern world never ceases to astound me.
I first got a Facebook account when I was 10 years old, I remember being so excited about this amazing new online world I had joined, without realising the dangers that come with it. At first I mainly used it to play games, but then I realised I didn't have as many friends as everyone else, I didn't have as many likes as everyone else, I didn't have as many comments as everyone else.
People who die by suicide do not want to end their lives, but want to end their pain and suffering. It is a permanent solution to a temporary problem, and whilst for the individual they may not be able to see a light at the end of the tunnel there is a light that never goes out. You may not always be able to see it, but it is there and that light is fueled by you.
There is not a day, hour or minute, when I don't wish you back into existence, so I can kiss you and hold you and tell you again and again how things can get better. That being a man is so much more than being physically strong or holding down a job. That if you talked to your friends about what was wrong, they would listen gladly. And that it's okay to cry, in fact, it's damn near essential that men are able to cry because no human being can hold stoic silence in the midst of all that life throws at you. I'm sorry being a man killed you. And I'm just so sorry it is killing so many like you.
We often feel relief when someone we care about is admitted to psychiatric hospital at a time when they are at risk of suicide. We assume that they are safe there. This is not always the case, and sometimes patients do die by suicide while they are inpatients in psychiatric units. These are catastrophic events. Such deaths devastate families and are almost always avoidable.
I stumbled across Josh and the challenge he has undertaken when scrolling through LinkedIn one evening. I was immediately struck by his strength to take positives from such a dark period of his life to not only help shape the challenges of his future, but to inspire others who face similar anxieties and worries to speak more openly about how they feel...