All Sides Of Suicide Introduction

   I know how it feels to lose a child to suicide. I also know how it feels to want to die.

   I first thought about killing myself when I was 13 and, in my twenties, I thought of little else. I’ve had a number of close calls. And I still have days when suicide flickers around the edges of my mind like an incipient migraine.

   When I was born, suicide was still an illegal act in England. Today, initiatives like “R U OK? Day” are encouraging people to talk openly about their feelings while shared stories are helping to chip away at the stigma of mental illness.

   Clearly we’ve come a long way – but now I think it’s time to take a broader view of suicide.

   If we are to take prevention seriously we need to address the public health issues that put so many people at risk, such as poverty, homelessness and addiction. We need to ensure that professional help is available when and where it’s needed. And we should also remember that those who have been bereaved by suicide are at higher risk of taking their own lives than survivors of any other type of loss.

   As a group, those bereaved by suicide are also judged to be more deserving of blame for the death. This sense of being judged can contribute to what’s known as complicated grief, yet many of the messages we hear about suicide embed the idea that we’re right to feel guilty and ashamed. Setting a goal of zero suicides, for example, may sound inspirational but, if we believe all suicides can be prevented, we must also believe that someone is to blame for every death.

   I talk more about these issues and other facts, myths and misunderstandings in Part Two, where I have also included something of my own story. For Part One I spoke to people who have been affected by suicide in many different ways.

   Some have attempted to take their own life and found ways to move through that despair. Others have learned to live with persistent suicidal feelings. Some had no idea that a loved one was considering suicide. Others spent years living with the threat. And many have had more than one exposure to suicide.

   It takes courage to relive such painful experiences, and every one of the contributors spoke out in in the hope that their story would help others in some way.  Those identified only by a first name preferred to remain anonymous.

   Their beliefs don’t always reflect my own but my intention was always to provide an insight into the complexity of suicide. The better we understand the nature of its causes, ramification and assumptions the better placed we will be to ease suffering and, ultimately, save lives.

All Sides Of Suicide by Domini Stuart

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