Wednesday, September 10, 2014

World Suicide Prevention Day

So today is World Suicide Prevention Day, and I'm not entirely sure what I can say that I haven't already said in my initial post.  I think I'll just start writing whatever pops into my head, and see if it makes any sense.

Today I came across an article advising that there was a woman stuck under a train at one of the train stations here.  She was freed from the train and transported to hospital with lower leg injuries.  As depressing as this was to read, there was something unfamiliar I noticed in the article.  They had stated that "police believe that this was an act of self harm."  Is this a sign of the changing times?  Clearly this woman is still alive after surviving the incident, so has that made it okay to note that she had attempted to take her own life?  Usually each time a suicide is attempted or completed on a train line, or on the bridge in the city that has seen the end of quite a few lives, the media reports that there is a "police incident" causing traffic delays.  There is no follow up story, like if someone had died in a horrible car crash.  There are no details released.  Just that the traffic will be delayed due to a police incident.  There's nothing released to say that a family is now without their son, father, brother.  Simply that those in peak hour will have their train delayed or will have to drive across an alternative bridge to get to work.  Most people know exactly what the "police incident" relates to, as everything else is stated for what it is, yet it's as though, saying it aloud, putting it in writing, makes it real, and means society would have to acknowledge it and deal with it.  It's the all too familiar, let's push this under the carpet, pretend it never happened, and never speak of it again.

The act of suicide on a train line is unfortunately a little sensitive for me.  Not only did I, in my darkest days, consider jumping in front of a train, as it would be over quickly and I wouldn't feel anything, but my cousin took his own life under similar circumstances.  When I found out about his suicide, I was in disbelief, I searched the internet for  incidents on the train line where he lived.  I needed to read something, anything that proved that he was gone.  That he'd been so depressed that he'd taken his own life.  I didn't even know he was in such a bad place.  I am pretty sure no one in the family expected it.  No one knew what was running through his mind in those final moments.  Which leaves you with those feelings of guilt.  The guilt that you should have noticed, you should have spent more time with him, you should have been able to help him see that this wasn't the only solution to his pain.  After internet searching, there was a tiny paragraph noted that there was a police incident on the train line.  That's it.  Nothing about his life being lost.  Nothing about his family dumbfounded.  Just a tiny paragraph noting a commuter delay.  And then, just like that, the trains are restored, and after the commuters complain about the delay, life goes back to normal for them.  But for the family and friends of the "cause of the train delays" life will never be the same again.

I'm deeply sorry that this woman has seen this as the only way of escaping her pain, and even worse that her already depressed mind, is now going to be worsened by the horrific injuries to her lower legs.  What if she loses them at the knees?  What if she needs a wheelchair for the rest of her life?  What was a way out for her, has made things so much more complicated.  While life was hard before, it's going to be even harder now.  Aside from this, I keep drifting my thoughts to the mention of what actually happened on the train line.  I keep drifting back to the fact that this was more than a police incident causing delays for commuters.  This made a taboo subject public.  This put suicide out in the open, for all the world to see.  After reading some comments from people on social media articles relating to this incident it is all too clear why we need to educate people on suicide.  So many people noting it as selfish.  So many saying things much worse.  I'm going to refer to my earlier post and reiterate the fact that people are scared of what they don't understand.  Unless we increase awareness so that people can understand, nothing is going to change.  The next suicide will only be a police incident.  How much more does it take for someone to do something about it?  How many more families and friends have to lose their loved ones before suicide is brought out of the darkness so we are able to prevent it?

So, as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, today is World Suicide Prevention Day, which is a great day to increase awareness, especially with the recent media focusing on the suicide of Robin Williams.  By increasing awareness, we can achieve the goal of this day, by preventing suicide.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again (heck, I'll continue to say it) unless we raise awareness and make it okay for people to reach out for help, nothing will change.  Family and friends won't reach out for the help they need, as they'll be under the false belief that their loved ones will be better off without them, and that suicide is the only solution to their problems.  I like to think that if it was socially acceptable to reach out for help, the number of suicides could be drastically reduced or in an ideal world eliminated completely.  What is so bad, so wrong with talking about suicide?  Why is the world so apprehensive?  Aren't people's lives more important than any stupid beliefs people have about it being selfish and cowardly?  Isn't talking about it, making it real, and therefore making it okay for people to ask for help, worth taking a chance on?  Shouldn't we be focusing on pro-active approaches to save lives, rather than reactive approaches to helping those left behind recover some sense of happiness and normality in their lives?  By helping the suicidal patient, essentially, you're reducing the need to help another bunch of people who will be affected greatly after their mother, daughter, sister, aunty takes their own life.  The innocent victims left behind after a suicide will never have the lives they did prior to the suicide.  There will always be the memory of what happened overbearing all the positive times shared.  Is it too expensive to raise awareness and then help those that do reach out for help?  When really, the expense of helping those left behind is far higher.  Even if the deceased person only has a small family, a Mum, a Dad, a son, a daughter, and a brother or sister, there are already five people who's lives are going to be ruined, and will need extensive therapy just to come to terms with what has happened.  The therapy won't cure them from the guilt, the pain they feel, it will merely teach them how to manage those emotions in some form of a healthy way.  I'm no mathematical genius, but isn't one person cheaper to help than the five left behind?  Essentially by helping the first person, we're sparing the pain and the need to help the remaining five.  I just don't understand why no one is doing anything.  It's not rocket science people.

I know I'm just one person in this huge world.  I know that my words are not going to change the world's perception alone.  We need to unite, wherever you come from, whatever religion, race or social status you belong to, we can all work together to save each other from pain.  In saying that, I do not plan on giving up speaking about these issues any time soon, and even if my post resonates with one person, even if I make a difference to the understanding of that person, it is worth it.  Because at the end of the day, life is precious, life is worth it, and much too short to be missing those who could have and SHOULD have been saved, if only society had allowed them to seek out the help they needed.

1 comment:

  1. I think there's a fine line between reporting the truth and respecting the feelings of the loved ones of the person who committed suicide. While it's absolutely important to shine a light on these issues and show people just how many people are impacted, I don't think it's helpful to talk about the method that a person used. One of the original articles about Charlotte Dawson committing suicide went into great detail of how she was found, which I think is no the disrespectful to her family and information that's unnecessary to the overall story.