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#JamesDonaldsononMentalHealth – ‘Lessons From My Ex Who Took His Own Life’

Corrine always knew the man she loved had his struggles — but nothing could have prepared her for the news she heard in April

Mental health: #Men won’t talk about it and it’s literally killing them

#Australia is facing a men’s #mentalhealthcrisis. Here’s what you can do to get Aussie blokes the help they need.

 #JamesDonaldson notes:

 

Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for #mentalhealthawarenessandsuicideprevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.

Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.

Having gone through a recent bout of #depression and #suicidalthoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space.  #http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle

 

I lost an ex-boyfriend to #suicide in April.

We dated 10 years ago at a time when both of us spent far too much time in pubs. He was bipolar, drank a lot, suffered from #depression and was haunted by an ex’s abortion.

If only I could have one more conversation with him, I wonder if I could have helped more?

He wrote many articles about his #mentalhealth struggles, repeatedly trying to make light of a darkness that was suffocating him.

The outpouring of tributes since the heartbreaking news broke includes frequent mentions of red wine, pizza, laughter … and turmoil.

The mix of #mentalhealth and alcohol as a coping mechanism is a common cocktail — but it’s often a deadly one.

If we know a friend is struggling with their #mentalhealth, what can we actually do? Should we really be accompanying them to the bar? How can we practically help complicated friends that we fear suicide is not if but when? And, how are we meant to manage the immense feelings of guilt after someone in our circle (and heart) decides they can’t take life anymore?

Psychologist Dr Lyn O’Grady says, “It’s important to understand that suicide is incredibly complex and has many different contributing factors. It doesn’t just happen suddenly. The very nature of bipolar is that there are periods of escalated behavior and periods of more depressed behavior.”

Corrine Barraclough is determined to use her experience to raise awareness. Picture: Supplied

Corrine Barraclough is determined to use her experience to raise awareness

THE CONNECTION BETWEEN #SUICIDE AND #MENTALHEALTH

“People suffering from #mentalillness are at a higher risk — but not everyone with #mentalhealth issues becomes #suicidal,” Dr O’Grady says. “Mental illness can be successfully managed with good treatment if people are getting the help they need.

“Professionals can help individuals understand and manage their own #mentalillness. They will talk through what coping strategies someone is using and help to unravel that. Alcohol or drug use are common strategies because they offer short-term escapism. But often they are unhelpful and can escalate over time.

“Seeking out #mentalhealth support is so important. We are working very hard to reduce the #stigma around #mentalhealth, but we also have to acknowledge ‘self-stigma’. Often people don’t want to face up to their challenges or aren’t honest with those around them about how bad things have become.”

IS IT A GOOD SIGN IF SOMEONE TALKS ABOUT THEIR STRUGGLE?

“As you have seen, someone who uses creative writing may be trying to make sense of what they are feeling, but it doesn’t guarantee that’s going to be enough,” Dr O’Grady says.

“Sometimes, people can be doing great things in one respect but choosing other behaviors that aren’t helping. People can also be quite compulsive, so they may seem as if they’re doing OK, but that spiral can happen fast.

“Chronic suicidal thoughts can go on for years; some people talk about first having #suicidal thoughts as children. For others, the thoughts are more fleeting.”

WHAT CAN WE DO TO HELP?

“Look for changes in behavior. If someone’s relationship ends or they lose a job and they’ve attempted #suicide before, they are at a higher risk.

“#Mentalhealth professionals in #Australia are working hard to offer better support to people after they have attempted #suicide. If nothing’s changed when they leave hospital, then nothing has changed and they remain at high risk. Finding local support is crucial.

“Ultimately, it is up to the person to reach out. Much as you may want to, you can’t force someone to take those steps.

“Ask them if you can call a helpline together, do some safety planning so they know what to do if they feel in crisis, try to guide them to helpful resources.

“Encourage someone you’re worried about to talk. Try to help them find relaxation and fun that doesn’t involve alcohol, and don’t forget about your own self-care.”

If someone struggling with their mental health loses a job or goes through a breakup, get in touch. Picture: iStock

If someone struggling with their mental health loses a job or goes through a breakup, get in touch

AND WHAT ABOUT THE GUILT?

“Guilt is a perfectly natural part of #suicide bereavement,” Dr O’Grady says. “Family, friends and #healthprofessionals around that person will all be thinking, ‘I wish I’d done this or that’.

“Don’t push those feelings away; sit with them and give yourself time to process them. It’s perfectly normal to feel like you can’t concentrate on anything else for a few days, even weeks, but if time goes by and it’s not getting any better, you may want to seek out some help for yourself.”

Don’t suffer in silence, if you need help, call Lifeline on 13 11 14, Mensline on 1300 78 99 78 or Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467. You can read more advice on understanding suicide and grief at Support After Suicide.

Corrine Barraclough is a freelance writer. Continue the conversation @TweetCorrineB

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