Today [apparently] is World Suicide Prevention Day.

So, by strict interpretation of its title, this is the one day you aren't allowed kill yourself?

I'm a little baffled as to how they are going to prevent people from committing suicide?  Are we supposed to lock up all our sharp objects, rope and drain cleaners just for today?  If someone is hell bent on ending their own life the one thing they aren't going to do is talk about it.  I would suggest that World Listen to People who are Depressed Day would be a hell of a lot more positive both in its approach and in its outcome.

Suicide is an intensely private and personal affair.  No one goes down the pub and happily announces to their mates that they are going to top themselves the following day.  No one discusses their intentions with their family.  The one reaction families have after the event is "we never knew he [or she] was depressed.  We had no idea".  So if the families had no idea, then how were they supposed to prevent it?

I knew a bloke once who lived across the road from me.  He was a very quiet amiable chap and we regularly had a chat when he was out cutting his grass or going for a walk.  We had a few drinks in his house and he visited us occasionally.  Then one day he went for a swim and never came back.  It was a deliberate act [he couldn’t swim] but none of us saw it coming.  And if we couldn't see it coming how were we supposed to prevent it?

If you ask me, this is just one of those fluffy feel-good non-events that people organise to make themselves feel better.  Apparently the aim is to improve the nation’s understanding of suicidal behaviour, mental health and well-being, which essentially means nothing.  How are they improving the nation's understanding?  By shining an orange light on a few building we are all suddenly given the gift of insight into people's minds?

Suicide is a terrible thing, but the worst affected are those who are left behind.  If they had seen it coming then of course they would have tried to help.  They are forever going to ask themselves why, and will have to live with the feeling of guilt that they didn't see it coming.

Shining a light on a building isn't going to change that.

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All this concern is killing me — 9 Comments

  1. Strikes a chord.  The love of my life killed herself in 1985.  No warning, no chance to help or save her.  I still think "what could I have done?  It has dominated my thinking every day since.

    • That is horrific.  My neighbour was a friend but not a particularly close one, yet I still have the thought from time to time that maybe I could have done something.  It's completely irrational I know, as there is nothing I could have done.  I can't imagine how you must feel.

  2. "Suicide is a terrible thing, but the worst affected are those who are left behind." This comes to the kernel of the problem. I've known two lads, in different places, who killed themselves, without warning and without any prior awareness by grieving parents and siblings. The siblings were shattered as they were in their early teens. The parents wondered if they were to blame. The act of self killing is intimately private, but the impact is social. 

    • The impact must be horrendous.  Not only do the family have to cope with the questions, the guilt and the "what if" scenarios but there is also the social stigma.  Up until no so long ago here in Ireland, suicide wasn't even recorded as cause of death – it was always "misadventure" or "accidental", and it's only in recent times that people dare breathe its name.

  3. I have had to deal with a number of tragedies over the years and would object to the use of the word "prevention". It suggests that suicide is something to be "managed" by "strategies" and all the other platitudes of management speak. The best for which we might hope is awareness.

    • I would hazard a guess that the organisers of this "event" have little experience of life on the ground.  They organise these events from management meetings, conferences and think-tanks, and doubtless receive nice fat salaries for their efforts.  A far better use for the money would be to put it directly into counseling and psychiatric services.

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