TouriaFebruary 4, 2016

Suicide still carries an enormous stigma for not only those who survive suicide attempts but for the families of those who have taken their own life. My mother took her own life when I was five years old; she left behind a husband and two daughters. I remember my dad telling me that mummy had gone to sleep and that she hadn’t woken up. As I got older I couldn’t understand why no one spoke of her death or why friends and family rarely spoke of her. As a child I remember not understanding why my mother wasn't there, and wondering what could be so bad for her family not to speak of her. I remember comparing my loss to a girl in my school class who had lost her mum to cancer and thinking that our losses were somehow different. As I got older I became more aware that there was something that wasn’t being spoken about, something I didn’t fully understand.

No one ever made a conscious decision to keep her death a secret, but It wasn’t till I was older that I learnt the truth about my mum’s death. As a teenager and adult I have struggled with my own mental health, I have struggled to cope and come to terms with a loss I didn’t fully understand and to mourn someone I didn’t even remember. I have spent a long time being angry at her, not understanding how she could have left us. I have struggled to talk about her death to others, I wrongly interpreted people’s discomfort around the word 'suicide' as a sign I shouldn’t say anything. I would tell people that she had died when I was little and I would quickly change the subject underplaying the loss as much as possible because I thought that that was the right thing to do.

Talking helped me come to terms

My own recovery journey has taught me that by not talking about your experiences you are depriving yourself of support. By keeping suicide a secret it feeds the idea that the person who has died did something shameful. Talking about suicide helps the people left behind, normalises their experience. By being able to talk about my mum's death I have found community and support, instead of feeling alone in my grief and anger I found a shared experience with others.

By talking about suicide it helps to reduce stigma for families but also encourages those who have thought about or attempted suicide to seek support. By talking about suicide it helps remind people that it is not a choice; it is the darkest of time where all rational thinking is gone, combined with overwhelming pain and unbearable hopelessness. Mental illness is still too often seen as a weakness, with behaviours as being intentional or avoidable if the person only tried harder. The stigma and lack of awareness around mental health has stopped me sharing my experiences and even asking for help at times, however I am passionate and hopeful for the future and believe that we can make big changes by simply talking to others.

I’m Touria, and this is why I’m talking for Dorset this Time to Talk Day

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Comments

well done

I commend you on this post. I often find people get very uncomfortable talking about suicide and it does nothing for those who are reaching out for help or just trying to make sense of their experiences. I really hope we can move past the taboo and have more open discussions about this. Really great piece and thank you for sharing.

So true

This could have been written by me. I was 4 and a half. I completely and utterly understand every word you've written x

Memories

Thank you for sharing your story. My mum died of a paracetamol overdose when I was 5, leaving behind a husband and two small children. No one ever spike about her again, never told me where she'd gone. I guess you can imagine. I'm 45 now and life has been difficult, unbearably so at times. I wouldn't know how or where to start to try and make sense of my family's reaction to what happened.

suicide

Touria you are verry brave to share your story. It would have been so much easier if it had been talked about for you. Your experience shared will help others. Mental illness is so misunderstood I have suffered with depression myself. God bless you and much love for your future x

Keep talking

It's so true some family members do not want to mention their loved one, my husband took his life last year and his mother and brother don't mention his name it's as if he didn't exist, this saddens me greatly. I also get very upset when people say committing suicide is a selfish thing to do, (just mentioned again on today's 6 o'clock news) . It's an act of absolute desperation , thinking everyone would be better without them is not Selfish if anything it's Selfless but misguided.

Mental health/ suicide

Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. I have been in the dark abys, I understand every thing you are talking about. You must have missed your mum so much growing up, you must be a very strong lady. I lost my mum when I was 19 , I'm now 58. My mum never saw my children. I have always missed her. I believe when she died that it was the beginning of my own mental health problems, which I try to manage as best I can. Suicide and mental health needs to be talked about more and I truly believe that one day it will be as easy to talk about as physical health. Keep strong, stay positive, look after your own wellbeing, you are worth it.

From the heart

I am sooooo proud of you for writing this & sharing it. I know it has been a long & very hard journey. So much pain goes with not understanding and not talking about it. You are so lovely and if ever you need to talk I am here for you. I hope this encourages others to open up and get conversing, as you say to normalise their experiences and help ease the pain as well as to stop the stigma. THANK YOU Hugs x x

Beautiful

I'm proud of you Touria. All my love xxxx

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