It's been 9 months since I arrived home from university to the news that my twin brother had taken his own life. The feelings of guilt, confusion, depression, anxiety and fear for the future have been prominent throughout these months, but I'm definitely getting better at coping.
One problem that doesn't seem to have faded is how other people react to mental health and suicide. Things are definitely improving with time and people are getting better at talking about it. Still, over the last few months I've been in certain situations where I see that many people don't understand what it's like to be truly suicidal. As a result, I feel like I don't have many people I can talk to and feel alone.
Lately, I've been regularly facing the full stigma that surrounds suicide from the people I'm close to.
Last week I did a presentation in front of my tutor and the brief was to create a mock-festival - I chose to sponsor my festival with a mental health Charity called CALM. The tutor's negative feedback was that the charity isn't one people would like to hear about associated with a music festival, because the Charity aims to prevent male suicide.
Another instance that happened today is what prompted me to post this - I was with two university friends and one said as a joke 'It's so cold I'm feeling suicidal', the other friend then replied 'I don't understand people who commit suicide' they both then realised they said this in front of me and in fairness they apologised and changed the subject.
I don't want people to have to censor themselves around me, but it really hurts when someone makes a joke of suicide - would as many people joke about illnesses like cancer the same way? It appears that unless you go through losing someone to suicide - you don't see that it's not something someone does over a small issue. Most of us have seen our loved ones endure years of suffering, I had to watch my twin's slow decline with severe depression through the age of 13 to 19.
Suicide is the biggest killer of young men, and many people continue to hide everything to do with suicide under the carpet. I agree it's a hard subject to talk about but until we start talking the rates will continue to climb. I hope people will start to understand and one day I'll feel comfortable to talk about it without fear of judgement.
This post originally appeared on the Alliance of Hope Forum and was reprinted with the permission of the author.