Sometimes I think we are doing well with educating others about mental health, raising awareness and reducing stigma and then a suicide happens and I realise we have so very far to go. I like to think that we live in a compassionate and caring society but unfortunately we don't.
Recently there was a suicide on a railway line and the reactions on Twitter were utterly disgusting. Among the comments were:
"I hope that selfish b*stard who killed themselves on the Victoria line this morning is enjoying the depths of hell #AlwaysDuringRushHour"
"If someone wants to kill themselves they should do it in their own time not when it interferes with others"
"Who decides to kill themselves on a Monday morning #selfish"
"Always in rush hour on a Monday selfish b*stards"
I am completely in a state of shock with people's heartlessness. I thought our society valued human life but on Twitter people's commutes appeared far more important than this human being's life. They may have been late to work, they may have had to get a bus or use those legs they were blessed with to walk but some poor train driver hit a person, imagine how traumatising it was for them. Police officers and paramedics had to deal with the body, I wonder how they slept that night. That person is definitely someone's child, someone has lost their baby forever. They will never eat a Christmas dinner with them or hug them again. Imagine their pain. That person will have known people, they may have had siblings, friends, neighbours or pets. The pain and loss that suicide brings in unimaginable unless you have been there yourself.
That suicide is not a sign saying 'train delayed', that suicide is a human being just like you or me, and they had feelings, emotions and memories. They had a life and they died alone but also it was probably a painful and terrifying death. I have tried to take my life and I can hold my hands up and say it is the most terrifying, traumatising experience. I do not know how that person was feeling, but I know how I have felt when suicidal. I know what it's like to not be able to think of anything else, I know what it's like to have a voice screaming at me to hurt myself and to not be able to hear anything else. I know what it's like to fight on for months hopelessly and to go every direction imaginable searching for hope only to be disappointed, exhausted. Suicide is not as simple as deciding not to live and we cannot know what was going on for that individual but I know that two words that don't go together are 'suicide' and 'selfish'.
Suicide is heart breaking, utterly devastating and painful for all involved. It is not selfish. If someone dies from cancer or asthma then it is not selfish. If someone travels to Switzerland for euthanasia then it is not selfish. It is not selfish if someone's mental illness kills them or if someone feels unable to live their life. It is however selfish to assume that your commute is of greater importance than human life and suffering.
We need to start speaking about suicide more, we need to make it acceptable to talk about so that people can ask for help. Maybe if it was acceptable to talk about and wasn't met with such disgusting comments on social media then people would feel able to ask for help and lives would be saved. I feel pretty desperate here, people are dying from suicide every single day and yet society lacks so much understanding around it. If you are feeling suicidal, you don't have to be ashamed and you are not selfish but please reach out and seek help because things can improve, life can change in a minute.
Need help? In the UK, call The Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90. For more support and advice, visit the website here.