Content note: This blog mentions suicide.
Jess is a SANE Peer Support Worker and long-time fan of people with shared experiences supporting each other. Jess talks about the power of peer support to prevent suicide and create hope.
Content note: this article discusses suicide.
In anticipation of World Suicide Prevention Day, SANE Peer Ambassador Nick reflects on how anniversaries bring memories and regrets into sharp relief. Staying connected and a ritual trip helps him and his daughter Winnie on their bereavement journey.
But when it comes to complex mental illnesses such as psychosis and schizophrenia, media coverage tends to emphasise negative aspects, often choosing to focus on portrayals of violence, unpredictability and danger to others.
When it comes to asking the important question 'are you okay?' fear can get in the way.
Fear of the response. Fear of our inexperience on the topic of mental health. Fear of appearing to be a stickybeak.
But these concerns don't recognise the relief many people feel after they hear the question.
It takes courage to ask simply and directly, ‘are you okay?’, if concerned about someone's mental health.
What if they’re actually fine? Will they be offended? And what do you do if they aren’t okay?
These are common concerns people have when it comes to asking a friend, colleague or loved one ‘are you okay?’. So it’s tempting to frame the question in a way that encourages a positive response, ‘you’re okay, aren’t you?’
Feeling suicidal means feeling more pain than you can cope with at the time. But remember, no problem lasts forever.
With help, you can feel better and keep yourself safe. People get through this. People who feel as badly as you feel now. So get help now. You can survive.
There are things you can do to relieve the pain and reduce the desire to end your life.
It is a sobering fact that suicide is one of the most common causes of premature death among people with mental illness.
Loss caused by the suicide of a loved one with mental illness has a profound effect on families and friends. The bereaved often have to deal with a range of complex emotions including confusion, despair and anger both at themselves and at mental health services.
Last year I had the privilege of interviewing 31 people who had attempted suicide.
We talked about a range of issues, including the triggers that led them to feeling suicidal, support received (both helpful and unhelpful), the challenge of talking with others about their experience, and the progress they had made developing coping skills.
These interviews were the basis of Lessons for Life, a research report that highlights what helps and hinders people who attempt suicide. Throughout the process participants shared their invaluable insights into areas of critical importance, these included . . .
The grief people experience due to mental illness and death by suicide raises very complex topics. Many participants in the SANE Mental Illness and Bereavement workshop are particularly interested in new ways of thinking – or ‘models’ – of grief, and challenging the old assumption that people should simply ‘move on’.