Suicide is not an easy topic and is also a silent killer, especially in men. Most people hide their scars very well and carry on unnoticed. Not one person is immune from mental scars, and we all will experience some trauma at some stage in our lives. Not enough is being done to prevent suicide, and we in society all have a part to play in this. Before my daughter Lorena passed away, I was one who ignored mental health, and I felt that counselling was only for people who were psychotic. This is a stigma that I, like most of us, inherited from society, and it is something that needs to be changed.
In the aftermath of Lorena’s funeral, I really struggled. As silly as it may sound, I couldn’t understand why the whole world didn’t stop for us. The pain and heartache of the loss were extremely unbearable at times, so much so that desperation began to settle in. I realised that we needed help. So I picked up the phone and called the Samaritans, who put me in touch with a wonderful organisation called ‘First Light’.
The pain was so much that suicide was on my mind. All I could think about was my daughter and I, the pain I was going through, the yearning to be at peace and be with her. I couldn’t even think further than that at the time, especially about the pain and suffering my suicide would cause to others.
Here, I had a choice: accept the gifts that Lorena has given me (Love, Strength, Empathy & kindness) and use these gifts in her honour to help others (#OperationLorena). The other choice was to end it all. Thankfully, I went with the first option, and I have no regrets in doing so either.
With the wonderful support of my partner Tatiana Souza , our second daughter Lily, family, friends, colleagues Bluestone Motor Finance and FirstLight, I don’t think I would be here to tell the tale. I can both relate to and understand some of the reasons for suicide, but I am telling this story today to drive the message home that there is another answer, there is a better way, and there is always a solution, no matter what the situation. As one of my colleagues said to me recently, making an impact does not have to be grand. Even if you can impact just one person, that is enough, which is the mission I want to achieve, and I hope this will inspire others to help others.
A problem shared is a problem halved, and speaking with people close to me and going to therapy/counselling benefited me a lot. Some people say they tried counselling, and it didn’t work. I tend to disagree with this, and the fact that I am still here today and functioning is proof that it does.
It’s not the counselling that is the problem; it’s the counsellor. It may take a number of attempts to find the right counsellor for you. So give it a try, be patient and allow yourself the time to find the right one like I did. I believe people should be doing at least one therapy session a year. We all go to our GP or hospital if we have any breaks or cuts and for annual check-ups (especially at my age now), so why should our mental scars be any different?
My door is always open for anyone who needs a chat. I’m approachable and don’t bite. It doesn’t matter what it is or how strange you may think it to be. All I ask is if you’re struggling and in need, reach out to me or someone. Take care of yourselves not just on International Men’s day but every day. Check-in on that person who you think may need it. The actions you take today will go a long way and could possibly save a life.
My message for people who maybe struggling is, always remember no matter who you are or what you do, you are loved and valued by someone. You might not be able to see it now but trust me, you will eventually.
Happy International Men’s Day 2023
#OperationLorena #ZeroMaleSuicide #GetMenTalking #MensMentalHealth #IMD2023
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