Callum lost his Dad to suicide only a year ago and is learning more and more about mental health every day.
On the 11th August 2014, my dad took the decision to end his own life at the age of 52. The same day as Robin Williams. A day I will never forget.
Reliable, determined and selfless. Just a few quick words to describe my dad. Words you’d never associate with depression or suicide. It was however, these same words that made him vulnerable to mental illness. He was too busy caring to the needs of others that he forgot about himself.
"Reliable, determined and selfless. Just a few quick words to describe my dad. Words you’d never associate with depression or suicide."
To the outside world (including his family and friends) he was a thoughtful, caring and inspirational person. Someone with a loving and supportive family, secure job and content life. But inside, he was fighting an invisible battle that not even those of us closest to him knew about. He had no prior episodes of mental health problems, or at least he never told anyone. How could he ever tell those closest to him he was struggling with a mental illness? That would mean placing a burden on a family he was meant to be strong for as a father and husband. Something he could never do. It just wasn’t in his nature.
As someone who was only 23 when this happened, I feel as though I am learning more and more about mental illness everyday. Having seen the responses on social media to the passing of Robin Williams, especially from young people, it is clear there is still a long way to go with perceptions of mental health. I can understand now with hindsight that even those who don’t outwardly display that they are struggling mentally may be the most susceptible, especially men.
"For someone of my Dad's generation to say that they were depressed would be an admission of weakness."
For someone of my Dad's generation to say that they were depressed would be an admission of weakness. It's clear to me that this is still the case and belief for a large majority of men, young and old. I don’t know if comfort in the form of acceptance would have saved my dad. I am certain that it would have helped to know he wasn’t going to be judged for admitting he had a mental illness.
As someone who greatly enjoys both playing and watching sport, as my dad did, the sad news of the passing of Gary Speed is something which brought the discussion of suicide into my consciousness. It’s such a shame it takes incidences like these for people to understand how big the stigma of mental health is for men.
With the help of amazing family and friends I have been able to talk about the way I feel myself and have been able to share my experiences with them. Although talking about it won’t bring my dad back, I feel comforted in the fact I know sharing my experience can at least help someone who may be in the same position to feel even slightly consoled that they are not alone.
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