Lying awake early this morning, on World Suicide Prevention Day, I began to think about those I know, or know of, who have taken their own lives. From Van Gogh to Marilyn Munroe, from Robin Williams to Jacintha, the nurse whose tragic story recently made headlines, from shadowy memories of deaths never talked about openly when I was a child to the heart-rending stories many have shared with me over the past few years, the list is diverse and much, much, much too long.
Of course, our son Peter is first in my thoughts; three years on, the grief and sense of loss is still so strong. One of the aspects of Peter’s death with which I wrestle is how to honour the person he was and the decisions he took without in any way authenticating suicide as an option. How hard it can be at times to “Choose Life”. There are many charities working to promote awareness of suicide, to dispel the stigma, to get us all talking more about those unthinkable thoughts which assail so many women and (especially) men in every walk of life, from every possible background, in every sort of situation.
The Samaritans encourage us all to ask one another “Are you ok?”… and really listen to the answer. Another campaign I read about uses the slogan “we’ll see you tomorrow” – giving hope and purpose to those who have become trapped by their own despair. The International Association for Suicide Prevention suggests a simple action – lighting a candle in a window at 8pm tonight – remembering those who have died by suicide, remembering those who have been bereaved by suicide and, perhaps, shedding a little light on issues which are too often shrouded in shadows. As I think about Peter and so many others, I will be lighting quite a lot of candles this evening. Join me if you can. Jill