World Suicide Prevention Day 2020
10th September 2020

How can we not be aware of this issue? Covid-19 and the UK lockdown have made us as a society painfully aware of the prevalence of suicide, particularly in middle-aged men. The question I am most frequently asked is “why?”. The simple answer is that I don’t know. The trouble is that this is not a good enough answer. I think as a psychotherapist that my friends want me to have more of an insight. As a psychotherapist, my feelings around the idea of someone taking their own life are mixed, complex. I’m going to try to unravel them a little here.

A right to choose our own path?

I believe that every life is precious. I believe that human beings are wonderfully diverse, unique creatures that are capable of complex thought and live complex lives. I also believe passionately in the right to autonomy in making decisions and choosing the paths of our own lives. I think that it’s near impossible to make sweeping generalisations about the reasons why some people choose to end their lives, or attempt to do so, and I’m a little sceptical when those sorts of generalisations are offered. Phew, did you get all that? No, me neither – I’m still no closer to understanding where I stand on this issue.

A complex issue

I know that when Michelle and I discussed World Suicide Prevention Day, I winced, both inside and out. Mostly because I can see it from both sides of the issue. I can understand what it might be like to be the person left behind when a loved one has taken their own life. I can also understand the feelings that might lead a person to feel that they want to. Neither side of the issue is more important than the other, both are equally valid and worth the time and mental energy to empathise with. My only real wish is that more people would try to empathise, rather than shy away from the issue with distaste.

An invitation

So, I would just invite you to think about where you stand on this issue for a moment. There is no right or wrong answer and maybe like me, you don’t have an answer, and that’s ok too.


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