Every 40 seconds someone loses their life to suicide.
Too many die in silence. We need to continue to change our society. Progress is being made but not enough. A stigma still exists about Mental Health and Suicide. In my country you die of a heart attack but you commit suicide. Commit is associated with crime. That’s just wrong.
It’s time for change. It’s time to make it ok to talk. The more we talk the more acceptable it becomes.
I suffer from depression. It comes in waves. When I was young I hated being me. That’s still with me today. Two big things have stopped me becoming a suicide statistic. HOPE and LOVE. Both give you the strength to keep walking through the dark times. Just a fraction of either is all it takes for many.
So today and everyday let’s try to give that love and that hope to others.
A few years back I played in the same team as an Ex Royal Marine. A huge bear of a man. He left the Marines early. He would never talk about the service much. But occasionally he would drop the occasional line into the pub conversations. I know he had a really bad time in Afghanistan. I remember him telling me once that he might be a huge intimidating figure but he was not prepared for what he experienced. He then said but your not supposed to talk about it. He on more than one occasion said that he was not the hero he set out to be. He certainly struggled big time with his mental health since he left the service. One day he without warning just moved out of his house. Disappeared off the radar and no one from the team saw him again. I often think about him and I really hope he found a better place.
Similarly my Dad never wanted to really talk about his time in the army and the fighting. In his eyes talking about it just opened old wounds. He needed to bury the pain and loss.
Recently I came across this music video on a similar theme. It’s called He Died at Home. The lyrics from this Neal Morse song resonate because they are based on real events.
William always wanted to be a soldier
“Army men were his favorite toys,” tells his mother
He was going to be the hero of the story
Live with honor or die in a blaze of glory
So he joined when he was seventeen
Kissed his mom goodbye
She wept as she packed his duffel bag
With notes of love and pride
She’d never guess six years from then
Tortured and alone
William wouldn’t die in fields unknown
He died at home
He loved the army, it’s all he ever wanted
To serve his country and look death in the face undaunted
But after a couple of tours, the fire in him died
You can’t watch friends be killed and stay the same inside
He told his mom “you’d hate me
If you knew the things I’ve done”
“I will never hate you
You are my beloved son”
He said, “no mom, the son you loved
Died somewhere over there”
But William didn’t die in the combat zone
He died at home
He came back ill at ease with civilians
His mother woke to screaming – it was William’s
The army shrugged and gave him more prescriptions
As William’s mind grew more and more distant
Before he died he told his mom
“Don’t bury me in my uniform
No military funeral
That’s for some who gave their all”
One night he shot the soldier dead
To kill the voices in his head
They gathered at the weekly wake
They have at every army base
‘Cause more will die by their own hand
Than fall in any foreign land
They covered William in the flag
But there was not a boast or brag
When asked how soldier William died
No one mentions suicide
The cause of death is hard to say out loud
The soldier who once stood so strong and proud
His mother looks away and simply moans
He died at home
Song by Neal Morse
Lyrics from songmeanings
I’ve wittered on about a number of subjects but not yet about books. Well let’s change that.
Over the years I’ve lived with depression. I’ve never had suicidal thoughts however after my partner died I did go to some dark places. I can fully understand the path those dark places can lead you down. Crucially for me there is our son – I have to be there for him over the next few years.
In the U.K. depression has been a bit of a taboo subject. You weren’t supposed to talk about it. You were expected to suffer in silence and just get on with it. Even suicide was reported as if it was some form of crime. A few years back I remember telling a friend that I was depressed, his response was “stop being a wimp and pull yourself together”. Thankfully things are starting to change. It’s now becoming socially ok to talk about depression.
Paul McGregor is one of the leading mental health campaigners in the U.K. He has now released a book based around his fight with depression and the impact his dads suicide had upon him. I found the book really thought provoking with many elements of the book striking a chord with me. Although it was an emotionally difficult read, I found the book completely inspirational.