My second biggest fear

As someone who suffers from anxiety, I have many, many fears.

I worry constantly about losing Matt or my kids.

But the next biggest fear is losing someone else I know to suicide. The fear that I could recognise someone who is in the same situation that my Dad was in and fail to help them. Fail to save them.

Where I'm coming from...
It’s hard for me to admit. But when my Dad died it wasn’t a surprise to me. Shocking, yes, but a complete surprise? No. My Dad had struggled for some time. He had issues with drugs, alcohol and spiralling debt as well as long-term, untreated depression.

This behaviour had already been going on for some time when in April 2005 he committed suicide. Even before I received the call I knew in my gut what had happened. I knew he was gone. Everything fell into place, my subconscious joining the dots and clues together before the rest of my mind caught up.

I’d moved in with my Grandparents when I was 16. A few months later my Dad joined us. He’d separated from my Step-Mum and spent some time staying with my Uncle. I could tell quite quickly that something wasn’t right. That he was drinking too much, that his mood was fluctuating. When I was 17, I remember running home from work, panicked that my Dad hadn’t collected me as usual and wasn’t picking up his phone. I was sure that I’d arrive home and find him dead. Looking back, I can recognise these as the first signs of my anxiety issues but my fears weren’t unfounded.

I tried to help him. I really did. I was there when he called the helpline for alcoholics but put the phone down when they answered. I was the one who caught the bus home with my brother and sister because I wouldn’t let him drive us after having a drink. I listened to him. I begged him. I hugged him when he sobbed on my shoulder. I argued with him and I shouted at him and I’m still sorry, so very sorry, for the times I lost my temper and told him to get a grip and sort himself out.

I never really knew what to do. I turned 18 and started looking at university. By the time I was ready to move out of my Grandparents and into a home with my boyfriend things were coming to a head.

There was a re-occurring nightmare, waking me up at night. I’d be arguing with him, begging him not to drive but he straps my brother and two sisters into the car and drives away before I can stop him. I would run to the end of the lane just in time to hear the screech of brakes and watch a lorry plough into the side of his car.

After I left home my Dad would often call me and tell me that he was sorry. That he was messed up. That there were events in his past that still caused him pain.

I received these calls sporadically but often enough that when he called me the day before he died to tell me he loved me, that I need to look after my brother and sisters and that he was sorry because I deserved better parents, I didn’t recognise the call for what it was. The last time I would ever talk with him.

My last opportunity to change his mind. To help him. To save him.

I would later learn that he had made some attempts already. That he’d told different people what he was feeling and thinking.

I can't help wondering, if I knew the whole story I could've done more.

My guilt never seems to disappear. I know that it was not my decision to make. But I feel the guilt anyway.

And I fear it happening again. To someone else I know and care about.

I want to talk about it...

Suicide is rare. Thankfully. And yet any life lost is one too many. The ramifications for those left behind is too much to comprehend.

I fear it happening to those around me and would do anything in my power to prevent it.

I still don't feel qualified in anyway to help someone. But I am getting better at speaking out. I don't think that I am the best person to speak with. I might not have the words but I'll be there with a reminder of how loved that person is. The hole they would leave behind.

And talking about it doesn't bother me. 

Dumbledore says "Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself."

And I am not afraid to ask someone if they are thinking about suicide. 

Friends might worry about burdening me and I won't lie, I will worry about it and I will be sad that someone I care about is feeling that way, but I would much rather they tell me than keep it to themselves.

If you are feeling suicidal...

I care and I won't judge. I want you to talk to me. I want you to talk to someone.

Talk to the Samaritans, I know first hand how much they can help. The number is free, they're available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The number is 116 123.

Talk to a health professional. Call 111 or go to the hospital. Speak with your local mental health crisis team. It's their job to help you.

Talk to another loved one. Talk to someone you trust. Talk to someone on a helpline. Talk. 

If someone you care about is suicidal...

And if someone comes to you and tells you they're contemplating suicide, take them seriously. You can refer them to a professional who can help but be there to hold their hand, tell them how much you love them and how much you want to support them. 

Encourage them to talk to you, even if you don't have the answers. You don't need to solve their problems. Reassure them that help will be found and that they are loved more than they know.

If you don't know what to say, or what not to say, then check out this great advice from Rethink Mental Illness.

And no matter what, know I am here for you.

Other places to get help, support and advice

Samaritans – for everyone
Call 116 123

Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) – for men
Call 0800 58 58 58 – 5pm to midnight every day
Visit the webchat page

Papyrus – for people under 35
Call 0800 068 41 41 – Monday to Friday 10am to 10pm, weekends 2pm to 10pm, bank holidays 2pm to 5pm
Text 07786 209697

Childline – for children and young people under 19
Call 0800 1111 – the number won't show up on your phone bill

The Silver Line – for older people
Call 0800 4 70 80 90
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