Two Bridges

This is Mental Health – Part 4

By Jonathan Wensley

It’s a bit grim… 

Sadly, this is the last in the 4-part mental health blog series. But in some cases, I am quite relieved as this has been the most challenging blog to write, I have re-written it several times and changed the subject matter each time.

I was not sure how to finish the series but a visit to the CCTV operations room in a local authority earlier this week (which is now last week) secured this finale and was to become the most fitting end, macabre without a doubt but a fact of mental health that I think just is not talked about as much as it should be.

There is so much stigma, fear, and pain attached to suicide that many people dare not say its name. Let’s (Really) Talk about Suicide : Speaking of Suicide

But just before we try and jump off one of the two bridges, we just need to quickly cover the hard facts of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) which has been the basis of ‘This is Mental Health 4-part blog series’.

If you have ever received any therapy relating to mental health, amongst the many questions you must answer to try and explain how you feel and your greatest challenges, the most pressing question is of course. 

Have you experienced suicidal thoughts or considered self-harming within the last two weeks?

Not a comfortable question to be asked or ask I am sure. Imagine asking that as part of your workplace stress risk assessment, I do not think as a society we are comfortable for this type of conversation… at least not yet!

I was asked this once and the question was followed up with, “what would you do if you had these thoughts?”

My response was, “well I certainly would not contact the Samaritans that is for sure, ‘I am not religious for one’, but if I wanted to end my life the last thing, I would want to do is spend my time chatting about it.”

Surely if you genuinely wanted to end your life, you have made your mind up that the only thing that is going to help you, the only help you need is a bit of peace and quiet. 

So then…. have YOU ever experienced suicidal thoughts or considered self-harming? And if so, what was going on at the time that led to these thoughts? And what stopped you?

The Samaritans.... and you're not religious... I don't get it!

Two bridges... I don't get it!

Two bridges

I am the CCTV control room, looking around I could see a wall of TV screens, floor to ceiling, sprawled from side to side.

And yes, I did see you were parked on double yellow lines with your hazards on as you nipped in to ‘Sainsburys Local’. Naughty!

There was one screen where the image remained fixed, a dedicated screen sat all on it’s lonesome. On asking the CCTV operator what that was all about, with a deep sigh and sombre tone he told me “this bridge here, this one is a popular spot where people go to end their lives.”

However, “the bridge in the background, that smaller one just there is where people go for help.”

You see, the largest bridge in the foreground is used nearly every week, people who jump off that bridge are almost guaranteed not to survive. But the smaller one behind it has a higher survival rate, although not so long ago someone jumped from it and will spend the rest of their days paralysed from the neck down.  

He continued to say that people will tend to climb over the railings before climbing back over again, back, and forth like a Yo-yo, “it is a cry for help”. We will get there quickly and help them. 

The conversation inevitably led to a heartfelt discussion on suicide, to which the operator felt that suicide was a selfish act, “the support is out there, they just have to access it. I have had experiences of suicide in my family, it just rips the family apart, it ruins their lives”.

Has there been an increase in suicides during lockdown? I asked, expecting him to say there was a greater number of. 

There has been less, because the pubs and bars are shut there has been fewer drunk people in town. Alcohol tends to be a fuel source for suicide, a means of encouragement, Dutch courage.

When you are drunk all rationale, thoughts vanish in the blink of an eye, but for some reason that alcohol in your body makes you feel like 10 men and appears to provide the almightiest ‘divine clarity.’

"...And it all seemed like such a good idea at the time"

When you are tired you eat rubbish food and make poor judgements, but when you are drunk…. you jump off bridges

Drunk man feeding a hen a bottle of bourbon with a cigar hanging out of his mouth

The link between alcohol and suicidal thoughts

I think it is fair to say that most people understand the effects of alcohol and that it is a depressant. But if you feel on top of the world before you start drinking it might get even better after a few beers, although not always is that the case. And the exact opposite can be said for drinking when you are down in the dumps, though it is likely to get worse from there on.

‘There has been for some time a firm connection between alcohol and suicide. The risk of suicide is as much as eight times greater when someone is abusing alcohol.

‘Alcohol can lower a person’s inhibitions enough for them to act on suicidal thoughts. It suppresses activity in parts of the brain associated with inhibition.’

‘Any warning signals that may have kicked in if a person was sober are unlikely to work, which can lead to actions they might not otherwise have taken and come to regret.’

‘Men are at higher risk of suicide (accounting for three-quarters of all deaths by suicide in the UK in 2018) and are more likely than women to turn to alcohol when they’re in distress. In addition, people living in the poorest communities are often the most affected—with higher rates of suicide.’

Alcohol and suicide | Drinkaware

Maybe then there is an argument for putting warning labels on alcoholic drinks…

Warning

This drink may cause irrational thoughts and behaviours that may result in actions you later regret such as, telling your boss they are a wanker… or worse yet, you jump off a bridge and die.

Do not drink if you are depressed warning sign

Warning

Not to be consumed when life sucks.

‘Raindrops before rainbows’. It can’t rain forever, sunnier days are always just around the corner, why not wait until then, it’ll taste SO much better when life is sweeter. 

Jerry Springer Style ‘final thoughts’

When life sucks, try writing down your thoughts and how they make you feel. Explore your thoughts and question what is really go on, why you are having these internalised conversations. For me writing them down is key to tackling mental health.

After all, mental health is all about what is going on in your mind and not until you write it down does it take on a different perspective.

What was once really ‘real’ and you have troubling thoughts caught up in your mind, once they find themselves on paper, strangely it makes them feel less real, less important, and not as harmful. 

Writing them down does not trivialise your thoughts, what it really does it help you to view them more objectively. An objective perspective is the first thing you might notice disappear when stress and anxiety get too much to handle.   

If you feel worse to the point that you are thinking of harming yourself or others, or feel a person may harm you, the standard format applies for who you can contact:

  • Contact the Samaritans (not a religious sect): Telephone 116 123
  • Book an Emergency appointment with your GP
  • NHS 111
  • Attend Accident & Emergency Department
  • 999

My advice is STOP your thoughts for a second (do not worry you can come straight back to them) and try and write down how you are feeling. Pick up the phone and talk to someone, anyone!

The End

This is the fourth and final blog post of a series of 4 here at http://www.beeiit.com, Occupational Safety, Health and Environment Practitioners.

We really hope you got something out of it!

Please share this blog on social media as you might be that someone that needs help but you are too scared to say anything, this could be the start.

Or you might know somebody who is finding life too difficult at the moment, but you do not know it. If you share this blog ‘that someone’ might pick up on it, they might reach out to you, and if they do please give them the time they need, just let them talk and listen, truly listen.

If you want to be that start of truly understanding mental health you can Like, Share and Care and donate to our Mental Health charity by clicking below. All money raised goes towards mental health awareness and understanding. 

If you are struggling with your mental health, you are NOT ALONE. You can get better, reach out and tell someone, tell your GP, tell your friend, family, reach out and get support. Life can be a wonderful thing, it is truly the MOST precious gift anyone could ever receive.

Thank you for reading, Beeiit.

Please share on social media and reach out to someone

Beeiit Blog – This is Mental Health

Beeiit is raising money through our 4 part blog series ‘This is Mental Health’, for Rethink Mental Illness because we want to improve understanding and reach out to someone who might need a little help right now.

We are all in this together, only if we work together can we make a difference.

Thanks for taking the time to visit Beeiit’s JustGiving page.

Donating through JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe with JustGiving – they’ll never sell them on or send unwanted emails. Once you donate, they’ll send your money directly to the charity. So it’s the most efficient way to donate – saving time and cutting costs for the charity.

This is Mental Health

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One Comment

  • Wise words, I can understand what you are saying about the affects of alcohol. Best of all I like your ideas of writing down your thoughts, and I remember one of the suicide scenes I attended. I just remember thinking, why. ? His wife didn’t have a clue….so so sad.

    Reply

All comments welcomed, thank you

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