Mental Health

20 minutes of your time could save a life

We all need to make it our business to know how to help someone with suicidal thoughts, as Lisa Richards explains.

Lisa Richards 1200x675

We all need to make it our business to know how to help someone with suicidal thoughts, as Lisa Richards explains.

WARNING: The following story talks about suicide could be potentially upsetting and trigger an individuals own memories or experience.

By Lisa Richards – Urban Designer, Telford & Wrekin Council

Imagine you could have an extra 20 minutes today to do something really worthwhile and if that was possible, what would you do?

You catch up on household chores, pick up and read a book, ring a friend you haven’t spoken to for a while or would you just sit and relax.

Okay, if I now told you that in 20 minutes, you could learn how to save someone’s life….. what would you say and more importantly would you do it?

While there are many things that we can do to help others, there are perhaps none simpler than watching a video explaining how you can help someone who is struggling with life and contemplating ending it all.

Even though we might shy away from this subject, if we were more confident about knowing what to do in such situations, we could be the difference between life and death.

So why am I telling you this?

When I was 19, my Mum tried to take her own life with tragic and devastating consequences.

Although she had been depressed for some time, my family had no idea that she was so desperate or had any plans to end it all.

We tried to lessen the depression and anxieties she experienced. However, because we were all so wrapped up in trying to “do the right thing” as well as living our own lives, we never saw any signs that she had decided to end it all until it was too late.

The full horror of what my Mum had done hit us like a sledgehammer and unfortunately we never recovered as a family.

Lisa with her Mum and Dad
Lisa (left) with her Mum and Dad

What followed sadly was a lot of heartache and soul searching. We struggled to come to terms with what happened and since we didn’t know how to deal with it, we all carried on as if nothing had happened.

My Mum didn’t die on the day she tried to take her own life. However, the reality was that the person I knew and loved disappeared the method chosen by my Mum to end her life damaged her brain to the extent that she became a different person who couldn’t look after herself.

My Dad had to leave work to care for her and tragically she became a living reminder of the day she tried to take her own life until she eventually passed away in 2011.

During that time and since, I have continued to experience my own mental health issues. Ten years after my mum’s suicide attempt, I had a nervous breakdown when I was shocked to discover that I too had suicidal thoughts.

However, even in my darkest hours, I promised myself that no matter how hard or bad things got, I would never try to end it all as I had seen what that could do to my family.

Somehow, I managed to summon the courage to ask for help and little by little, I started the long road to recovery.

I have since realised anyone can experience suicidal feelings, albeit they could be fleeting. That is the time when just asking people if they need help could make all the difference.

Having read and watched videos from Zero Suicide Alliance Training where people speak about trying to take their own lives, they often say how alone they felt and that no one seemed to care.

Having felt isolated for many years, I had told very few people about what had happened to me and my family. I recently started to talk about my experiences and realised that many people are going through similar situations – too many in fact.

Consequently, I now believe that we not only need to talk about this subject more, but also should make it our business to know how to help.

Just 20 minutes

So my message to you is this. If you have 20 minutes today then make sure you do something worthwhile. Take the time to complete the Zero Suicide Alliance Training.

If you were struggling with your own mental health and wellbeing, wouldn’t you be glad that someone had done the training?

While the subject matter may not be enjoyable, it is important that we all aware of the signs to look for, so that when the time does come, we can make a difference and possibly even save someone’s life…

How amazing would that be and all for just 20 minutes of your time today!

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