Ed came into the recording studio to do this weeks podcast in a state of shock, he had seen the eighty four life-sized sculptures of male suicide victims have been installed on ITV’s central London studios in the Evening Standard news paper. The realistic statues that do look just like men ready to jump from the roof, appeared on the Southbank to raise awareness of the 84 men who die through suicide each week. Project 84 saw bereaved families work with suicide prevention charity CALM to get people talking about the biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK.
It highlights to me that all of us, and the government, need to take more action to improve suicide prevention by talking more and also in increasing our awareness of those around us. We also need to consider that if the worst does happen that we provide adequate bereavement support and project 84 is doing it’s best to deal with this, but most importantly to get us all involved.
In the time that I woke this morning, made a coffee, thought about this blog, write it and uploaded it, another two men will have killed themselves. That is astonishing. Project 84 has been focussed around male deaths under the age of forty-five. The death of Robin Williams struck a chord and raised the issue that had, up to now, been mainly hidden. Middle aged suicides in both males over the age of fifty five. It has, until now, remained largely unaddressed.
We do not always respond sensitively to suicide often seeing it as a weakness
Robin apparently suffered depression after the onset of Parkinson’s Disease and had financial worries. Whatever it was that took him to the edge I guess there came a point where he could no longer see or feel the desire to carry on. At the time I was both saddened and ashamed by my fellow human beings who felt the need to put him down via Tweets and Facebook. The idea that suicide is cowardice, is held by those with little understanding or empathy. Actually killing yourself is quite difficult, and in most cases requires determination and indeed courage.
What value do you give your life?
Prior to recording Ed and I spent a while discussing our own experiences and suicidal ideation. We were both shocked by the massive rate of suicide in the UK but were even more shocked to realise that the UK does not even appear in the top twenty five countries when comparing suicide rates. For example New Zealand has a rate five times higher than the UK.
The value of life
Have you ever considered ending it? I know, from my work as a psychotherapist, that many people do seriously consider it. Has it ever been a realistic option for you? If you are reading this then you didn’t follow through with the idea. What happened to stop you? The decision to stay alive means that you had a reason, what was it, or is it?
Whatever reason you had, it represented the value that you gave to your life. It is the meaning that you give to living and I guess it would follow that it is the value that you might give to the lives of others. So, as you read this perhaps you might consider that if life does have a value what are we/you doing to help other people value their’s? This is, in many ways the issue that is being addressed by Project 84.
There is so much that we can each do to help and support each other everyday in every way. It may simply be being mindful and thoughtful towards others. I do not know the individual circumstances of Robin Williams but I do know that their are many people around us right now that would benefit from a kind act, word or deed that may keep them from falling into the black pit of suicide.
I have, in my life, stood on the edge of the black pit in life and I made the choice to move back into the light. In doing the podcast with Ed and considering why this was I came to the conclusion that I do have a belief that as human beings we have the creative potential to solve problems, any problem. Also I realised that I am too nosey to kill myself. I have a need to know what happens next, even in the worst of times.
Imagine going to a library or a bookshop and buying a book only to find that someone had ripped out the last few pages so that you will never know how the story ends? For me life is like that. It has, sometimes, been tough, and sometimes very hard to keep going, but it has also been amazing, it has been a blast and the one thing that it has taught me is that by staying positive, being grateful for all that I have and, by being consistent and persistent in all my endeavours and my attempt to ‘get it right’ my life and my happiness grows. I want to know how my story ends. For many years now I am enjoying my story.
You can become the author of your own story
I guess the other good lesson that I have learned is this. If you really don’t like the story line of your life, if it is boring, depressing, despairing, anxiety provoking, meaningless or just not what you want, then, pick up your pen and write a story line in your life that does meet your needs. And, if you have trouble finding your pen or thinking up a story line go and see someone like me. Talk it through play with ideas and then with persistence and consistence live a life you can love.
For me a successful life is simply waking with a smile on your face feeling good about the day you are about to live and, at the end of the day having a smile on your face feeling good about the day you have just lived. At that point your life has a value way beyond money and yet you will be the richest person alive.
Keep smiling be happy and enjoy the gift of life.