World Suicide Prevention Day 2018 (WSPD)
I have to be honest that when I woke up this morning I was not in any way aware that I would be writing this blog…I was planning to write on my recent overcoming of a lifelong phobia of wasps…I’m very pleased with myself…but that’s for another day.
But then as the day progressed and I realised it was world suicide prevention day, it would seem fitting to mark this in some way with writing about this unfortunately all too common an experience for so many people. In the last few days I have been painfully aware of the devastation and the loss for so many people. A young student in NUIG sadly lost his life, another was a highly experienced runner. Both have impacted me in different ways. I keep thinking of what must of been happening for them in the hours and the days and the weeks leading up to this. I keep wondering why this happens more and more. I feel very sad and I know as a therapist I worry that clients of mine will be impacted but also that my family or even me. Because none of us are immune.
“It is illness, it is not illness”
I think of their families and friends. I think of the pain that spreads like a virus. There is no immunity, there is no vaccine. We can all face painful struggles of living. The challenges of life can overwhelm us. Trying to understand with research why people are led to suicide is important to know so that we can perhaps try to prevent this through understanding and intervention. But the reasons and the causes are myriad and when I hear media depictions or explanations that seek to give insight I sometimes feel they are both reductive and simplistic. There is no one size fits all explanation. It is nature and nurture, it is early life experience, it is present life experience, it is illness, it is not illness, it is unbearable pain, it is escape, it is reaction, it is addiction fueled for some and not for others, it is overwhelm, it is underwhelm, it is crises, it is substance abuse and it is not.
None of us are Immune
None of us are immune. I remember so well the day I got a call that a friend had taken his life. My feelings of incredulity, of second guessing, of word loss, of heart-breaking sadness…I remember his funeral and trying to make sense of…I remember it like it was yesterday, his smile, his Dublin accent. And then gone and now today he fills my memories as I try to write these words. None of us are immune.
But I know that a helpful ear or the simple presence of another can be a healing salve. And that is not meant to be prescriptive. Again what helps us in our painful moments is different for different people and different at different times. If we can all keep each other in our thoughts, look out for one another, be there as best we can, maybe we can in some small way provide a safe space, a refuge, an anchor point to rest weary bones in the darkness. And maybe be a glimmer of light.