Start talking about fighting to live
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.