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Chris & Nicola

I lost my husband, Chris, to suicide in 2017; exactly a year and 5 days after we were married. He struggled for a very long time with depression and anxiety, as well as addiction issues. He hadn’t ever attempted prior to his death, to my knowledge, however he had mentioned on a number of occasions that he did not want to be here anymore.

I found it difficult at first to know who to talk to about it, as I did not want to feel like I was betraying my Chris’s confidence by talking about how ill he was to other people. I also did not fully understand what was going on at first. Eventually, I spoke to some close friends about what was going on, and also my own family. I did find myself not opening up to my family entirely about what was going on however, as I misguidedly thought that this was best in protecting everyone. In hindsight, this did more harm than I realised, as the weight of supporting someone through mental illness can be heavy. Keeping things to yourself, bottled up will not make things easier to cope with; it is the exact opposite. It becomes suffocating and pretty soon you will be gasping for air. It is important that you reach out for help and know that there is always someone there to listen. You cannot do everything on your own and there is no shame in this fact. You do not need to be strong for everyone and it is important that you lean on others for support. By admitting that you need help to support your loved one, will not make them feel that they are a burden. It is the best thing that you can do to help your loved one, as you cannot pour from an empty cup.

Talking about suicide will not make your loved one more determined. It will not put ideas in their head. It could save their life. Listening to your loved one about how they’re feeling should hopefully help them feel less alone and help them to realise that they have support and that they matter.

My perspective on the importance of talking has changed considerably after losing Chris. I realise now just how important being open and honest about mental ill health is and I am much more confident in doing so. Talking allows you to better understand your feelings and why you feel that way. It’s also how you are able to get the help and support you need.

People are often worried that they will say the wrong thing when talking to someone with suicidal thoughts or to someone who has lost a loved one to suicide. I think that a lot of the time, this can prevent people from talking. It is however, extremely important to talk about suicide openly, as this is the only way that we will be able to get rid of the stigma surrounding mental ill health and suicide. If people are more open and willing to talk about suicide, people struggling will feel much more comfortable coming forward and asking for help, because they will know there is no shame in what they are feeling.

If I could say anything to someone struggling with suicidal thoughts it would be this — you are not a burden to your family and friends — these are the people who love you the most and who do so unconditionally. Their lives are enriched daily by having you in their lives — you are not better gone; you are not worthless. You matter. You are important. You are loved.

The following services offer confidential support from trained staff and volunteers. You can talk about anything that is troubling you, no matter how difficult:

  • Call 116 123 to talk to Samaritans, or email jo@samaritans.org. Samaritans are there to listen 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and it’s always free to call from any landline or mobile phone.
  • Call 111 to talk to NHS 24’s mental health hub
  • Call 0800 83 85 87 to talk to Breathing Space. The service is open 24 hours at weekends (6pm Friday — 6am Monday) and 6pm to 2am on weekdays (Monday — Thursday).
  • Text “SHOUT” to 85258 to contact the Shout Crisis Text Line, text “YM” if you are under 19.

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