We need to be aware of peo­ple around us who have lost the choice to be happy

The Argus - - NEWS - Jus­tine O’Ma­hony

THIS week wasn’t a great week. For a va­ri­ety of triv­ial rea­sons, none of which re­ally mat­ter. I moped around for a few days feel­ing sorry my­self, the kind of self-in­dul­gent carry-on you do, when your life is ac­tu­ally pretty ok.

Then I heard that two young men of my ac­quain­tance had taken their own lives in two sep­a­rate in­ci­dents. That kind of tragedy puts ev­ery­thing in per­spec­tive.

And be­cause it seems so in­com­pre­hen­si­ble, the first ques­tion peo­ple al­most al­ways ask is ‘why?’ Some­times there isn’t an an­swer. From my lim­ited knowl­edge, I would say peo­ple don’t choose to feel sui­ci­dal. Do you not think if some­one had a choice they would pre­fer to be happy than sad? Some­times you don’t have a choice. Some­times you just are.

We all have bad days. We all feel pissed off and fed up at times. But then the next day isn’t so bad. And the day af­ter that is a bit bet­ter. I think that’s fairly nor­mal. For oth­ers it isn’t so easy. We all know some­one who just can’t seem to snap out of the dark­ness no mat­ter how hard they try. They want to, Oh My God they want to but for what­ever rea­son they are stuck.

There has been a lot of talk about sui­cide aware­ness in re­cent times. Per­son­ally I don’t think we need to raise aware­ness of sui­cide. There is a huge aware­ness of sui­cide in Ireland, we have one of the high­est rates in Europe. It is rife, es­pe­cially amongst men. Men who suf­fer the dark­ness in si­lence, afraid to ask for help. We are all painfully con­scious of it. But that doesn’t solve the prob­lem.

And to be hon­est I don’t know what will. It’s an ex­tremely com­plex is­sue. In­vest­ing in our men­tal health ser­vices would go some way to­wards ad­dress­ing the prob­lem. Ed­u­cat­ing our young peo­ple to help them recog­nise the signs in them­selves and in oth­ers.

What we do need to be aware of is the peo­ple around us who have lost the choice to be happy. And in­stead of telling them to cheer up or snap out of it, just reach out and let them know you’re there. You may not be able to solve all their prob­lems or make them smile but you can sit be­side them, in si­lence if needs be and just be there for them.

And some­times it is the ones with the big­gest smiles who hide the big­gest pain. Re­mem­ber that too. the ter­ri­fy­ingly good ac­tors who are even able to fool them­selves most of the time, that they are fine. The only time the fa­cade comes down is at 4 am when they lie awake alone, wrestling with their demons.

I just want to say you are not alone. You are never alone. Please be­lieve that.

IN­STEAD OF TELLING THOSE WHO ARE DOWN TO CHEER UP OR SNAP OUT OF IT, JUST REACH OUT AND LET THEM KNOW YOU’RE THERE

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