Start talk­ing about fight­ing to live

Horowhenua Chronicle - - NEWS -

Ay­oung Horowhenua woman is con­tin­u­ing her mis­sion to break the si­lence that sur­rounds sui­cide.

Jamie Lynn lost her broth­erin-law, 32-year-old Philip Shanks to sui­cide in early 2017, a loss that prompted her to speak up pub­licly at the time, in­clud­ing at her col­lege as­sem­bly and as part of a so­cial stud­ies project to in­flu­ence a change in govern­ment pol­icy.

She started a pe­ti­tion call­ing for in­creased men­tal health fund­ing, launched a Facebook page called Change Men­tal Health NZ and was asked to be an am­bas­sador for health fund­ing coali­tion Yes We Care NZ’s na­tional aware­ness road­show.

How­ever, with the two-year an­niver­sary of Philip’s death com­ing up early next year, Jamie says sui­cide is a topic that still needs to be talked about di­rectly, in­clud­ing with those who may con­sider it.

She has penned a con­fronting open let­ter de­scrib­ing her own ex­pe­ri­ences and ad­dress­ing those who may feel they are in a place with no other way out than to end their own life.

Open let­ter by Jamie Lynn:

“Life. I’m done with sit­ting in funer­als for my friends and fam­ily who have com­mit­ted sui­cide. Say­ing fi­nal good­byes to peo­ple who could still be here. I’m an­gry. And I know ev­ery­one is post­ing on so­cial me­dia to cre­ate aware­ness, and show their love and help­ing hand to those that need it. But let’s be real, as we’ve seen as a com­mu­nity espe­cially, if this is how peo­ple want to leave this world, they aren’t look­ing for help to stay around.

In most sit­u­a­tions con­cern­ing sui­cide, the ones around them didn’t know the strug­gles that they were fac­ing in their life. So I beg, if you aren’t look­ing to reach out, please just read what I have to say.

I know we aren’t all equal. A lot of us have sh*tty lives in our own ways. In­clud­ing me. Stuck in de­pres­sive holes, so de­stroy­ing and de­struc­tive that your body and your mind phys­i­cally hurt. Your men­tal pain be­comes phys­i­cal pain. I know!

We be­lieve that this is how it’s al­ways go­ing to be.

In my own ex­pe­ri­ences, which I don’t want to share but I know I need to, I lost my brother-in-law to sui­cide a year and a half ago. He was like the big brother I never had as I come from a fam­ily of three sis­ters. He took in my sis­ter’s two chil­dren [that] she had be­fore meeting him as his very own, then he shared two beau­ti­ful girls with my sis­ter which we are so blessed to have to re­mind us of him.

He chose for his soul to leave this earth and leave be­hind my sis­ter, her kids and our fam­ily.

The pain I felt alone was like I could tear this en­tire earth apart, some­thing I’ve never felt be­fore, and to see what my sis­ter and her chil­dren were feel­ing, broke me even more than I could have ever imag­ined.

My sis­ter [lost her] hus­band, the one she gave her life to, the one she wanted to cre­ate her fu­ture with, the one she had chil­dren with, her soul mate and lover. Her chil­dren lost their fa­ther, their guid­ance, their provider, and they lost the chance to truly cre­ate a love and bond with their dad. They [all] lost the heart of their home, the man who pro­tected them and made them feel safe, the one who would climb moun­tains to make sure they had ev­ery­thing they needed. One daugh­ter so young, she may not even re­mem­ber her dad when she grows up. Their hearts will never be full. They will feel pain and face strug­gles every­day for the rest of their lives be­cause of him. They miss out on an ex­pe­ri­ence all chil­dren de­serve to have.

Now, his pain that he felt he could not live on with, has spread to the peo­ple around him.

Some­times peo­ple think it’s bet­ter off they are not here, but I can’t stress how wrong that is!

I know that young peo­ple get into this mind set that makes us try and un­der­stand the way the per­son who com­mit­ted sui­cide, was [feel­ing]. We try to fig­ure out how some­one we thought we knew so well, could be so down. Our minds be­come full of deep thoughts, we look at life dif­fer­ently than we did be­fore and ev­ery­thing changes. We be­come de­pres­sive our­selves to fur­ther un­der­stand that per­son’s world in their mind. And this is where it be­gins. The toxic but­ter­fly ef­fect that spreads through our minds. And for some of us, we love, say good­bye and are able to move on in a healthy and pos­i­tive way.

We don’t want you to be a mem­ory, sad when we look at pho­tos of when you were here. We want you here. Phys­i­cally here with us.

Wish­ing we had cher­ished our time with you more.

If you think you can’t stay for you, then stay for oth­ers. Stay for your fam­ily. If you don’t have your fam­ily, stay for your friends. If you don’t have friends, stay for the worker that you see at the bank, or the su­per­mar­ket worker who recog­nises you but you don’t know they do. You may not think peo­ple care for you, or love you, or know who you are. But we do.

If you leave us, your pain be­comes our own. What you felt, we feel much more.

We blame, our hearts phys­i­cally hurt when we cry and the pain swal­lows our in­sides. We try and fig­ure out why; what didn’t we do to make you know we care? We get an­gry, we be­come self de­struc­tive, we think about our own lives and ques­tion it all.

Don’t leave this fu­ture for oth­ers. Don’t be the rea­son to make those lives you left be­hind even harder than yours. You know you wouldn’t want any­one else to feel the pain and go through the strug­gles you do, but if you go, you pass your pain on.

Don’t do that. Stay here. Fight for your life and for oth­ers be­cause we aren’t just our own, we are con­nected.

Life will get bet­ter one day you just have to hold on to get there and see that day.

This can­not be our era. This can­not be what we are re­mem­bered for. This is for you Philip Shanks — we love you for­ever and al­ways.”

Jamie Lynn, left, and sis­ter Kylie Shanks pic­tured in March with 606 shoes rep­re­sent­ing a life lost to sui­cide last year.

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