Updated: Dec 16, 2020
In 2018, in the UK and Republic of Ireland, more than 6,800 people died of suicide. Every life
lost to suicide is a tragedy. But not being okay is still widely stigmatised. And governments can still make better, more ambitious plans to prevent suicide.
When we see a sign on a car that says “baby on board” or “disabled driver” – naturally we
are more patient with that driver; we slow down and take care because we know there is a
vulnerable person inside. Would we be so patient and attentive if that sign wasn’t there?
Truth is we don’t know what struggles people are going through, because we don’t wear
signs telling us. You never see a sign that says “I’m going through a divorce” – or “I haven’t
seen my children for 2 years”, or “I’m feeling depressed” or “I’ve just been diagnosed with a
If we could I’m sure we would be kinder. Mental health problems are invisible illnesses. Pain, sadness, anxiety and depression do not discriminate. We believe, we all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other's happiness, not by each other's misery; but perhaps we have lost our way. Technology that gives abundance has left us in want. Social media, created to bring us closer together, has left us further apart. Our knowledge has made us cynical. Our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than technology we need humanity. More than cleverness we need
kindness and gentleness.
The men we work with say their life is now left dripping down the walls; A dream that cannot
breathe in this their new harsh reality; Having been sold what they cannot buy. As they talk, there is a bell that we hear. It is the sound of the human spirit ringing – full with anticipation, fear, anxiety and hope! Everywhere they go – all they feel is the shattered glass of their dreams cutting their feet, reminding them, constantly, of all that has been lost. The home they used to share, now echoes with the deafening silence of their children’s laughter. They feel their absence like a draft. The smell of a once cherished teddy bear or clothing, their only reminder of a child they once held.
Their loneliness and isolation driving them deeper into despair and hopelessness. Their cries, their midnight cries, heard by nobody. Tears left unwiped. Their stories, past, present and future, now are all written in scars. It is impossible to mistake the anguish and suffering in their voice. They are broken.
We must all, therefore, make a greater effort to understand the effect of family breakdown;
and hence the possibility that the person before you may be more ‘vulnerable’ as a result.
And vulnerable is precisely what they are; and in doing so we can unbreak the broken. It is
worth remembering, that every parent lost to suicide, because of family breakdown is preventable; it’s not inevitable. In 2019, DU prevented 91 men from completing suicide, who
initially came to us with suicidal ideation.
Family breakdown is, and always will be, a lose/lose sum game. And seen through the eyes
of a child, it is nothing less than a tragedy. The difference between what was….and what will
never be. But all of us can work to change a small portion of events for someone else. We must commit to working harder together, and form a coalition of the willing to alleviate the suffering from the consequential effects of family breakdown, and improve the mental health of parents and children. Because, after all, are we not the change that they have been waiting for?
Nav Mirza - Dads Unlimited https://www.dadsunltd.org.uk/