Yooooo. It’s been a minute. In between work, trying to maintain a social life and procrastinating I’ve barely had the thought space to make an entry here. Anyway have a read of my article for Horizon: Stopping Male Suicide. If you missed it catch it here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0bgv82g/horizon-2018-6-stopping-male-suicide
It was excruciatingly difficult listening to the story of Kevin Hines- who describes how the moment his hands left the railings of the Golden Gate Bridge; he knew he had made the “biggest mistake of my life”. The moment his body crashed against the water, shattering his T12 vertebrae, he speaks on how he was filled with the “complete will to live”. After falling 70 ft below water, he somehow managed to reach the surface where he prayed relentlessly. “God, I’ve made a mistake, I want to live”.
To compound the heartbreak of this story; on his way to end his life he was having a psychotic outbreak on the bus. In between the shouting match he was having with himself he thought to himself “If anyone asks me if I’m alright. Says ‘you alright kid?’. I’m going to tell them everything and I’m going to beg them for their help”.
Not one person did. Even while pacing up and down the bridge with tears streaming from his eyes, joggers, commuters and even suicide prevention police all passed him by. The only interaction he got was from a tourist asking to take his picture. Not long after that he decided to jump.
Upon being saved by the coastguard he was asked “why?” to which he replied “I don’t know, I just felt I had to die today”.
I’ve been fairly open on this blog about my struggles with anxiety and. Although it’s something I’m very much still learning to manage.
I found the doc difficult to watch not because I myself have ever had anything close to thoughts of suicide, but because in the film I saw patterns of thought and behaviour that I often demonstrated. To think that I had anything in common with people who had once tried to kill themselves was terrifying. An over reliance on alcohol, bad sleeping and eating habits and poor attention spans are all signs that your mental health may be deteriorating.
That may sound worrying, and indeed it is. But the stark reality is that I am not unique. 70% of men would describe their mental health as “other than good”. Added to that the fact that the biggest killer of men under the age of 50 is suicide; we all need to pay closer attention to how we’re thinking and feeling.
Whilst watching the film, I became instantly nervous. That knot in your stomach you get when you feel like something bad is about to happen. My normal anxiety routine resumed. A shortness of breath, brain fog and an overwhelming fear of carrying out even the most mundane task.
I was super shocked that something about suicide (I must emphasise again I have NEVER felt a suicidal thought) would trigger such a reaction in me. I thought that I was beginning to arrive at a stage where I had my mental health somewhat figured out.
What this doc showed me is that I’m really only at the start of my journey of self-care and recovery. Tbh, the journey probably never ends. Rather than trying to “fix” myself and then return to my normal routine -there isn’t a cure or a vaccine for this – my challenge now is to curate an environment that is conducive to my mental stability.