Suicide Taboo and Life Without You
‘If I could ask society to do one thing, it would be to please talk about mental health and check in with each other, you could save a life’ Abbie
I was 14 when I lost my mum to suicide. I didn’t understand what mental health was and had no idea she lived her life battling with chronic depression. Like me, she was always a friendly, ever smiling person where a hidden illness lay underneath.
Grief and loss for children and adolescents is a brutal process and bereavement by suicide is one like no other. To be left by a best friend, a woman you love more than anyone in the world, during key developmental stages, left me with a sore hole in my heart.
It is often misunderstood, suicide. Reactions from others were always, “Such a selfish thing to do” and “She left 3 kids”. The emotional pain and turmoil my mum must have been experiencing can’t have crossed the minds of people who commented like this. Suicide associated with mental illness can be the result of a battle that feels impossible. People feel like they are a burden and genuinely believe others would be better off without them.
I would do anything to bring my mum back now. At 26, 12 years later, I’ve gone through the many gruelling ups and downs of grief and bereavement by suicide. I’ve dealt with loss and loss by suicide separately. I’ve educated myself and experienced first hand the effects of mental illness. It can take control of you.
Suicide is still taboo and so is expressing the feelings associated with it. We must listen. We must signpost. We must be open to others in distress. Mental health problems can affect anyone, and although not all suicides have a link with mental illness, we could all benefit from educating ourselves about mental health If they won’t put it on the curriculum then we have a responsibility to learn. To be kind. To be compassionate. To potentially save lives through communication and through offering hope and empathy. Sadness is probably the stage I’m currently experiencing as it draws near to my birthday, to her birthday. All stages of grief can feel like the worst but what sets bereavement by suicide apart for me is the lack of closure and guilt. The what if and why stages that can return when you think they’re done with you. The never ending questions.
What interferes with recovery in the grief process, the acceptance and the moving on, is the stigma associated with suicide. The way it’s reported, like a crime. The taboo. No one wants to speak about it with you because they can’t bare to see you sad. They associate it all negatively and forget the person was a person before they took their lives.
My best friend lost her brother 10 years after me and this brought back the feelings of shock and numbness all over again. To know some I love so dearly will experience such heart ache. We set up a YouTube Vlogging channel to raise awareness of suicide and grief. To educate. To grieve and heal together: https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCRaU6_Bs7G8MCx4WWlLlfpA. I also write about my own experiences of mental health and bereavement at sunflowerandme.wordpress.com/blog
If I could ask society to do one thing, it would be to please talk about mental health and check in with each other, you could save a life
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