**This blog contains references to suicide and suicidal thoughts **
Today (10th of September 2020) is World Suicide Prevention Day. It's a hard day for many of us. Suicide is something very close to me, however before I get into why, there's something else I want to highlight. The moment you became a student at Edinburgh College, you became a member of a community, a place where you can ask for help with no judgement. You are not alone.
At Edinburgh College we have support networks, there's a wellbeing team and lots of online resources, you can find out more about services through our Wellbeing Hub. The most important message I want to get across;
There is no shame in having thoughts about suicide. There is no shame in feeling low, and there is never any shame in asking for help.
I am no longer ashamed to talk about my experience of attempting suicide. I was in a darker place, and I have lost friends to their darker place. There is not a day that goes by where I don't wish I could tell them I miss them, but that they have nothing to be ashamed of. For years I beat myself up for not seeing the signs, for not doing more, and it took me years to come to terms with the fact that I couldn't reach them.
Once, in a dark place, I asked myself; who do you think you are? My thoughts spiralled. You have gone from being suicidal, tried to kill yourself, to trying to help others and failed to help your friends (this thought was part of particularly bad day). But I wasn't too far from the mark. I looked around me and realised I had become a different person to the one who was suicidal and tried to kill himself. To paraphrase an episode of Doctor Who; We are different people throughout our lives, and that's okay. It's good, we have to keep changing who we are to move forward. Moving forward is difficult if you are in that dark place - to be able to see all the weird, whacky and wonderful potential futures you have in front of you. That's why it's important to reach out. Just because you can't see all the potential future versions of you, it doesn't mean they are not there.
If you are reading this, and you are in that dark place, remember if you are unhappy with the person you are right now, that's okay. You are at a crossroads and you can plan for the person you want to become. The small victories are the huge leaps that get you there. My advice is to aim small. When you wake up try to be a little closer to the person you want to become, but remember there's no shame in who you are or in the process.
Throughout, whether you are working on yourself or you are in that dark place, it is okay to need help or someone to talk to. I'll let you in on a secret. I know that my negative thoughts taunt me when I am feeling low in a dark and hopeless place. They whisper in my ear that nothing matters, but they are cowards and always seem to run away when they hear we aren't alone and we are talking to someone else. I bet it's the same for other people too. So please reach out if you find yourself in one of these dark places. We can help each other chase away those thoughts, and give you rest you need from them.
We have to be in this together, to support each other. Now more than ever it is important we check in on each other. A lot of us have be away from our friends and loved ones to keep us all safe. We will need to make the best of situation, so plan ways of being together online. You can do watch parties, have phone or video calls maybe with a drink or a quiz, join that yoga class you've thought about and join the chat on the Virtual Campus or in one of our other groups. Dpn't overdo it though, there's no pressure to be doing this pandemic perfectly, there's no recipe for how you are supposed to be acting. Do the things that make you feel good and safe. Be kind. If we are all kind to each other, it'll be easier to be kind to ourselves.
Some of this was my story, and I hope to continue to share throughout my time as President. If you need support or someone to talk to, reach out. You can find a list of support organisations here or you can contact us at ECSA. If you are looking to join an online group with people like yourself, we might have a group just for you. Check out our activities page.
Today, for suicide prevention day, this message couldn’t have more meaning behind it.
Remember to keep the conversation going - online doesn’t mean you’re on your own.