If I could write a letter to myself and send it back in time to the night I tried to kill myself, I think it would read something like below. Dear Tom, I know you are hurting and I know how bleak it all appears. I can envisage you sitting there, lost and directionless like a terrified child wandering through a high walled maze in the dark.
I first met Luke, a young man in his twenties, in the spring of 2015. He wasn't homeless at this point. He was encouraged to visit our Suicide Crisis Centre by a member of his family who was desperately worried about him. She had been in contact with us because he had gone to the top of a high building recently with intent to end his own life.
By the end of today in the UK about 12 men will have died at their own hands. It happened yesterday and it will happen tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that too. Actually, there's no indication of when it will stop... Suicide is very much a male issue, with men almost four times more likely than women to take their own life, but the reasons why are unclear. This November HuffPost UK will dedicate the entire month to talking about the mental health and wellbeing issues that impact on the lives of men in our Building Modern Men series.
The human mind can be deceiving at times. But if you're suffering from a mental illness, it becomes your enemy. It makes you believe things you don't want to believe. It makes you think about things you don't want to think about. It makes you feel useless when you're not useless at all. It can completely overpower you and it forces you to think negatively. No matter how hard you try to stay positive, your own mind doesn't like positivity and wants to make you suffer.
Today, on World Suicide Prevention Day, the focus is male suicide. Suicide is currently the single biggest killer of men aged under 45 in the UK, and men are nearly four times more likely than women to take their own life. It is great that we are, finally and collectively, encouraging men to get support. But surely the big, currently unanswered question is why men.
Today, we think about all the families affected by suicide, and recognise the role of those professionals and volunteers who provide care, counselling and support. We should also give some attention to people who the Courts have determined should be deprived of their freedom, because time spent in prison should not mean losing your life to suicide.
What I've learned was acquired the hard way. The irony of losing someone to suicide is that it also robs you of your own want and need to stay in this world. Finally you understand that desperate place they were at, the wish for peace and an end to feeling as awful as you do every minute of every day.
From the age of 13, I had dealt with my own mental health issues and at 18 I ended up having suicidal thoughts myself, but it was something I'd managed to put behind me. I'm just glad that I was there that day to be able to give something back following the help and support I'd received years earlier, and use the skills I'd learnt to help save someone's life.
The point is it could be anyone. So in a world where it's easy to live in a bubble, all I can say is; be in the moment and try your best with people. Be the best person you can be in any given situation. The C words don't cost us a thing and who knows, you may even make a new friend, by just the simple act of talking to someone and showing you have noticed them.
Putting aside your judgements and discomfort, your need to rescue, fix and make everything okay, your desperate need to brush it under the carpet because you don't know how to respond, or your need to fulfil your curiosity...put all of that to one side so you can truly be there for that person in that moment. By giving that person the space and time to talk about their darkest feelings, their fears and thoughts of suicide, to give them permission to cry, show their vulnerability, their true state of mind and feelings....might just help prevent them from ending their life.
September 10th marks World Suicide Prevention Day, a day to reflect and reach out to those people who might be at risk or suffering in silence. Members of the transgender community are particularly vulnerable and awareness days such as this shine a much-needed spotlight on an issue which is rarely acknowledged, let alone discussed.
Suicide is a difficult subject to address, but I do so in the hope that people may understand the psyche of someone who is suicidal. More than this, I hope to show anyone who is suicidal that it is always possible to overcome the feeling of wanting to end your own life... In the UK, 17 people take their own lives every single day. Suicide has become the biggest killer of men under 45 in our country, whilst in women the most recent suicide rates showed numbers at a 10-year high. The statistics speak for themselves. And yet so few people actually speak about them.