To mark suicide prevention day, I would like to pay tribute to the numerous individuals I have met who have dedicated their lives and their work to helping to save lives. These are also people who have touched my life in ways they will never know. They are part of my story, as are the people I have lost to suicide, and the people I have spoken to who have not been lost to suicide.
To stand alongside someone at the edge of their abyss and help them to avert their gaze for long enough to look at the light, is both an honour and a challenge.
Anyone who has loved and cared for or worked alongside a person who tried to end their life also experiences pain, suffering and trauma. There is no relief in suicide – for anyone. This echo of pain that is left behind can often be used in an unhelpful way to guilt-trip people out of suicide. This just makes the person feel like more of a burden and gives them even more reason to not want to be here anymore.
"But I have found that in the simple act of living with hope, and in the daily
effort to have a positive impact in the world, the days I do have are made all the more meaningful and precious. And for that I am grateful." Elizabeth Edwards
This seems to be a common thread for the way we interact with people in general – with threats and fear and guilt and shame. Wouldn’t it be more helpful to let each other know what we value, what we treasure, appreciate, admire in the other? So much of our lives, especially in our work, we do not feel valued and our contribution is not acknowledged.
Those in society who do not have a traditional job are not valued for the silent, unpaid contributions that they make to society – as carers, home-makers, neighbours and generally the people who are around to help others because they are not hidden away in an office all day. In fact, why isn’t the government training all unemployed people in suicide awareness and intervention skills? Something that would show their contribution as a human being is valued.
Today, like every other day in Scotland, two people will end their own lives. This will have a ripple effect on their family, their friends, their neighbours, their colleagues and anyone who tried to help them. We need to stand alongside each other, look out for each other and value each other’s lives. Let's have hope. Because, one day, it might be us struggling to stay alive.
Dr Murphy - signing off