It was World Suicide Awareness Day on September the 10th. Twitter has dubbed this 'World Suicide Prevention Day' because the more we talk, #breakthesilence, the more the stigma is broken and others are more likely to speak up- allowing release and support instead of a heartbreaking alternative many choose or spiral into.
I posted this song because I wrote it shortly after a close friend of mine, Olivia, chose to leave this life. This song was partially written in response: "her life is over but lives on in mine" and as my own expression of my mental health and voicing my "no" to traumatic events that happened in my life.
S T O P (live) (solo)
I want it to stop, all these people, so many of them so young, who have not seen another way to feel better, who believe no one cares, that they don't matter, who don't know where to turn for support, who believe nothing will change or are too afraid to open up. It IS okay to not feel okay. It is unacceptable to tell someone to "harden up" -only the person whose life it is knows what they need and what is really going on inside- it contributes to the stigma around mental health. Let's #breakthesilence . Reach out, please. If you don't believe your friends and family will respond in a helpful manner, there are organisations which can help. In NZ: Lifeline, mates, heaps more; there are organisations at the bottom of this post.
Friends and family: simply listening and showing that you care, VALIDATING emotional pain ("that sounds really hard" "it must feel really painful to hear that from your mind") is so helpful. Reach out <3 show love and care. Ask the big question; 'you seem to be a bit down lately, wanna talk about it?' Share your own feelings to let them know it's okay to open up.
You are worthy. You are loved. You are not alone.
Here's an amazing art exhibition, 'Something Along Those Lines', fundraising for Lifeline created by Wairehu Grant, 'the Goth', and Tyla Jane Armstrong. Check out the pieces, they are still available for silent auction.
I performed at the opening day too. Alongside so many talented artists. There were the Draper Community Dance Group, who were absolutely incredible. The music includes spoken segments about living with depression or losing loved ones to depression and the dancers are super talented youth. Essa May Ranapiri performed some of their incredible raw and at times heartbreaking poetry. Joseph Scott performed some hilarious comedy. New Mellenium Beatniks (who I jam with too) presented their quirky mixture of poetry with improvised backing. Lady and the Grey Ghost performed for the first time in two years! They came out of hiding to support Lifeline and others on their own personal journeys to mental wellness. My own set list included 'Ode to a Blackbird'- sometimes we just need one thing to hold onto, mine was a blackbird- 'Breathe Deep'- about connection- 'It's Alright'- a new lovesong about supporting each other through the dark patches- the aforementioned 'STOP' and a song I wrote after my ex boyfriend passed away; he had been very suicidal after we broke up when I was 18. At that point in time I didn't know how to handle it, how to help him OR myself. I hadn't heard of lifeline or didn't realise I could call them.
If we talk more, if we break the silence, we can change our culture into one which encourages people to reach out, which supports each other through hard times, which teaches the tools we need to sustain ourselves emotionally- and teaches how to respond when someone in our lives is suicidal. A culture which prioritises working with our mental health the same way we currently prioritise financial gain and career choices. A culture that teaches us tools for mental wellness and encourages us to understand what fulfills us; our own mental health care plans for when life gets hard and bumpy. That would be such a beautiful society. I hope I see it happen.
We need these organisations, these helplines and counsellors. Personally I have known more than 8 people who have chosen to leave life over the past 5 years. Some of them I was very close to. I know countless others who have attempted to leave life- many of them now living fulfilling lives, feeling grateful they did not succeed. And I know others who are now going through difficult times, low mental health, life stress.
This too shall pass. There is a way to a fulfilling life. It starts with reaching out. I know that can be scary but it's worth it. I believe it's worth it.
From 'Something Along Those Lines':
"For more than 50 years Lifeline has provided compassionate support for New Zealanders in crisis. Their team of dedicated volunteers and consellors respond to around 18,000 calls a month and this number is increasing.
Right now New Zealand's suicide rates have reached unprecedented levels, and after a massive cut in government funding Lifeline's future has become increasingly uncertain. Thanks to a generous donation and support from Presbyterian Support Northern, the foundation has been given a brief period of continuation. But if Lifeline is to continue providing it's much needed service they need all the help they can get.
If you or anybody you know is in need of help, or simply need to talk about issues causing strain on you, family or friends, please refer to the phone numbers below."
Lifeline (open 24/7) - 0800 543 354
Depression Helpline (open 24/7) - 0800 111 757
Healthline (open 24/7) - 0800 611 116
Samaritans (open 24/7) - 0800 726 666
Suicide Crisis Helpline (open 24/7) - 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO). A service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.
Youthline (open 24/7) - 0800 376 633. You can also text 234 for free between 8am and midnight, or email email@example.com
0800 WHATSUP children's helpline - phone 0800 9428 787 between 1pm and 10pm on weekdays and from 3pm to 10pm on weekends. Online chat is available from 7pm to 10pm every day.
Kidsline (open 24/7) - 0800 543 754. This service is for children aged 5 to 18. Those who ring between 4pm and 9pm on weekdays will speak to a Kidsline buddy. These are specially trained teenage telephone counsellors.
Your local Rural Support Trust - 0800 787 254 (0800 RURAL HELP)
Alcohol Drug Helpline (open 24/7) - 0800 787 797. You can also text 8691 for free.
For further information, contact the Mental Health Foundation's free Resource and Information Service (09 623 4812).
MATES- A supportive group for men, including working through family violence as well as mental health: 0800RELATE