When I first started writing this blog it was for me, I needed an outlet for my overwhelming thoughts and feelings and realised I needed to write them down to release them. Gradually though it became more than that, people started thanking me and telling me their stories about suicide, depression and other mental health issues. One thing that struck me after Simon died was how difficult some people found it to say the word "suicide". People who have felt depressed or suicidal in the past have " confessed" it to me. I've been reminded of the scene in St Elmo's Fire where Wendy takes Billy home and warns him that her mother finds it difficult to utter certain words;
I remember when people found it difficult to use the word "breast" when talking about breast cancer, instead referring to it as "women's cancer". These days that stigma seems silly. Yet there is still a taboo when it comes to talking about suicide or feeling suicidal, about depression, mental health or addiction.
So now this blog is about using those words, without fear or shame. It's about recognising suicide is a global problem and that it's only by working together, by talking and listening that we might be able to start to reduce those horrifying statistics. There is much to be done, mental health services are too often insufficient, too many people fall through the gaps. However, perhaps if we start to talk, without judgement or prejudice, if we recognise that depression is an illness and no more shameful than cancer, that addicts are more than their habits, that language like "man up" and "grow some balls" may stop men seeking help, then it'll be a start and maybe we can push for more research and more help for those who need it.
In memory of Simon I'm supporting Calm's Man Down initiative,
"The Man Down campaign is all about raising awareness of the fact that suicide is now the biggest killer of men under 50. It’s about encouraging men to recognise when they are finding life difficult and talk to someone, rather than reach a point of crisis, and it’s about encouraging us all to look out for our mates…"