September is World Suicide Prevention Month. Maybe you wonder what on Earth that has to do with you, and maybe honestly you would rather talk about something else. Maybe you’ve noticed some other funny things, like how I burst into tears when I heard about Caroline Flack’s suicide this year. I didn’t even like the show, and here I was sobbing in front of our grandparents about someone I’d never even met.
The truth is, some things are very hard to talk about, but a little easier to write about. You know I’m volunteering in a crisis intervention chat service twice a week. We’ve laughed about that. I’m hardly calm in a crisis. We both have a tendency to stress ourselves out. When the plug stopped working, I picked up the microwave and walked it across the room rather than fixing it for about three months. I don’t like arguing. I want everyone to be happy.
I also know that these services can’t fix everything. The fact is, they can’t solve most things: abusive partners, pandemic problems, job losses, just about everything going wrong in the world. Sometimes people want a solution to these things, and I don’t know what to tell them.
I think of what Mum said to me the other day on the phone: ‘I wish I could magic it all away for you, but I can’t.’ And I wish the same for you. That’s why I started this – because it won’t fix everything, but maybe it will make things a little better for someone, somewhere. The opposite of that is doing nothing, and I can’t stand that anymore. I want a better world for you, and for our little brother Charlie.
That’s why I wanted to share with you some things I’ve learned from the work I’m doing:
- A lot of bad things are going to happen that you have no control over. But don’t ever stop trying to make the world better.
I saw you and your friends going on that march against climate change and I felt so proud of you. Because so much of the time the things going wrong in the world are so big and overwhelming and we don’t know where the hell to start. Sometimes bad things happen to people who don’t deserve them. I don’t think these things are accidental – they are often the result of bad policy decisions, racism, classism, people who get scared, and then lash out at other people. We need to fight against these things, but sometimes we don’t even know how. Don’t stop trying.
- Change what you can change.
Like I said, most of the time we can’t fix things. And when you call me, crying, I can’t fix that either. This is why in crisis intervention we take small steps. Sometimes the focus is on just getting through the night. Sometimes just taking tiny steps to feel a little better will light a little spark of hope inside that will make taking the next small step a little easier.
- Figure out what makes you feel better when you feel like shit.
Sometimes you just want to hide away from the world, and it’s okay to do that – just not forever. Find something that makes you happy, something that can be your refuge. Spend time with your friends and never take them for granted. If you love that Netflix show, watch it, even if the rest of the family teases you for it. Know what makes you happy so it’s there when you need it.
- Ask for help when you need it.
No one’s going to know you’re hurting if you don’t tell them. When we lose someone we love it can be so perplexing that other people don’t understand there is a deep radiating core of sadness inside – but they don’t, not unless you tell them. People need love and connection. Build it into your life.
- Be kind to everyone.
We don’t know what’s going on in other people’s lives, or just how much they’re hurting. Cut people slack when you can.
- Always love and appreciate your sister.
A lot of things are going to go wrong in your life, things you’d never expect. But a lot of things will go right, too. Sometimes when you’re hurting it can feel like it will never end, but know that there are wonderful things in your future you never even imagined. Know that there are people who love you, who will love you even when you don’t love yourself. We need to make the world better so that by the time Charlie’s old enough, he won’t have to worry about the things we do.
Lots of love,
Sophie – IMAlive Volunteer
If you are in danger of hurting or killing yourself, please call emergency services. If you are safe and need to talk, please visit our website www.IMAlive.org and click chat now to speak to one of our trained volunteers.