This is a common question that too many people ask when they hear of a person having committed suicide.
"cowards", "selfish", "weak", "pitiful", "self indulgent", "Cry for help gone wrong" - these and many other dismissive and judgemental words used by so many people in response to being told of the loss of life through an individuals own hands.
Such attitudes are the reason why a stigma around mental health issues still prevails, and why it is so hard for those suffering from suicidal thoughts to talk about their mental agony; and seek help.
In reality, suicide is NOT the "cowards way out" but an act by a human being enveloped by a dark cloak of utter desperation and total despair that strips them of all rationale, self worth, and of seeing a future for themselves.
In the week of the Mental Health Awareness last month and the CWU annual Conference where suicide prevention and support for compromised mental health sufferers was debated and policy decisions around suicide prevention were made, a very brave CWU member from the Greater Mersey Amal Branch, Chris Evans; spoke at the rostrum of his personal journey in combating his feelings of suicide during the debate on Motion 30.
Chris has decided to share with Unionsafety this emotional video in which he speaks of the loss of a friend's brother to suicide, and of a family member and the impact it has had on himself, the lack of understanding of the public; and of his continued battle not to succumb to his own mental health demons:
Although public perception is changing as people are educated about what it is that removes the basic instinct of survival from an individuals mind to the point were they do 'end it all'; suicide amongst men in the UK is becoming a pandemic and greater than those for women.
Inability to talk or wish not to appear weak or simply not to bother others with my problems and thinking they wouldn't understand anyway, is often sited as common reasons why people suffer in silence.
It is a long agonising road to self-harm and taking one's own life. It is not something a person 'suddenly decides to do' because they have nothing else to do. Nor is it rationalised, planned out in detail - but it is agonised about until the point where it can't be hidden from the conscious mind any longer, and the unconscious decision is taken and the 'survival mode' vanishes into the void.
Chris Evans video reminds us all that talking about our feelings and emotions is both the greatest thing to do to avoid acting upon suicidal thoughts, but it also the most honest and most difficult thing to be able to do.
We, whether or not we have our own mental health demons to combat, must remember that talking is the means to get help and support.
We also must remember and tell everyone that.....
..... and it is good to talk and to reach out for help.
See Chris' contribution to CWU Conference 2022 Motion 30 here
Source: Chris Evans / Jamie McGovern / Unionsafety
See the E-Library for Mental Health documentation