On 13th February, my youngest daughter received her first mobile phone – a birthday present in readiness for secondary school in line with the family tradition – she’s seen her brother and sister get there’s on their 11th birthday.
We set up her phone, without apps to start with, however, it has a built-in news app. On 15th February, she received the alert that Caroline Flack had taken her own life. As you can imagine, she was confused by this news, not because she knows who Caroline is, but more because she couldn’t comprehend how anyone would take their own life and hurt the people around them. ‘Why didn’t she tell someone she felt so desperate, mamma?’
It’s a good question, and we don’t know that she didn’t. However, I explained to her that when someone feels this way, in their head, they see death as their only solution – that there is ‘no other way out’ and ‘people will be better off without me’ and ‘the world will be a better place without me in it.’ I have heard this many times when clients have been suicidal, and I have also worked with families where their loved one has taken their own life, and the people in the family never recover from the devastation they feel, and often never reach a conclusion due to their many unanswered questions.
From the outpouring of grief and eulogies, Caroline was loved and admired by many. However in the public domain, it must be hard to support someone publicly who is being prosecuted for assault. I’m interested to know what support was offered to Caroline to enable her to get past the incident (whatever it was) and to get her, her relationship and her career back on a steady path. The ‘blame game’ is part of the justice process, and unfortunately, it seems, part of the press and media game too, without consideration for the human being on the receiving end of the blame and judgement. There is support and advice that can be accessed, from people who can be spoken to without judgement, which may mean stepping out of the world of celebratory, getting a different perspective and being seen for the person we actually are.
There will be other people who have taken their own life on the 15th February too, and the days since, and before. I agree that there needs to be debate and processes put in place so this doesn’t happen again for anyone, not just those in the lime light, but for anyone. When I have known people who have been at the point of taking their own life, the moment is often fleeting, even if the thoughts are persistent and intrusive. There is life after suicidal intent, that is often richer due to knowing the depths that can be reached and gratitude too that the moment(s) passed and for what life has to hold now, once the therapeutic work is done.
My youngest daughter has advice; talk to someone who cares, write down how you are feeling, to help get a different perspective from the one inside your head – and I would add to tell someone if you don’t feel safe. We have used some of these strategies for her when she has felt unsure, angry or down – and they have helped her. In addition, although the mantra at the moment is ‘it’s good to talk’ (which it absolutely is), to be mindful of who you talk to, when feeling down. Not all ears and attitudes are created equal, when it comes to saying how we feel and being honest about our own vulnerability, uncertainty, lowness and indeed, loneliness and be aware of who you surround yourself with, the people around us, the advice we take, the judgement we feel, can have a profound impact.
– Alexis 💙x
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