Any followers who know me “in real life” will know that suicide awareness and prevention is a matter close to my heart. Unfortunately, in 2001, we lost my Dad this way. A really tough few years followed that, and while we’ve all come out the other side now, it’s still something that I feel connected with.
Some people see suicide as a selfish thing to do. The person is caught up in their own feelings, be it depression, loneliness, panic or just plain sadness. So when they make the decision to end their life maybe they aren’t thinking of the family, friends and colleagues that they are leaving behind with so many questions and now their own sadness to deal with on top of that.
However, I’m personally not of the opinion that it’s a selfish act. I can’t even imagine how eaten up with these feelings they must be for them to see no way out, no light at the end of the tunnel and no where to go to for help. Being a pretty open book myself with feelings etc, I generally turn straight to my friends and my Mam when something is affecting me and talk, talk and talk some more, I have no problem pouring my heart out… I’ll practically tell a stranger my story if I feel the need to let it out! But some people don’t feel they can.
Sometimes people don’t have close friends or family to turn to when they’re feeling really low and helpless, or even if they do maybe they feel they are a burden and a hassle to others. Sometimes they may feel things have gone way past the point of talking about things to make them better, they get into a panic about how to get out of a situation they’re in or they just can’t lift the sadness that’s taking over their lives and they see ending it all as the only way out of this. They may feel it’s a way out for them and mistakenly believe it would be a release for the other people in their lives that they’re burdening.
Who am I to say they’re selfish, I haven’t lived through that and I have no idea how I’d react if I did. I do understand a certain amount of anger after someone has died this way but I just feel that empathy and sympathy for what they went through to get to that point is more apt – for me anyway.
One of the biggest suicide awareness and prevention organisations that I’m aware of is Pieta House. They are a non-profit organisation that offer treatment programmes for people who have ideas of suicide or self harm. They do no end of great work and rely on charity donations. So when I saw the advertisement for this year’s Darkness into Light 5k I really wanted to make the effort to do it. They have started to run this event each May in many parks across the country. The entry fee is only €25 and no sponsorship etc is needed. The idea of the run / walk is that at 4am on a given day, people take part in this event in all centres around the country. It kicks off at about 4.20am and by the time you’re about half way through it the sun is coming up and you’re walking into the light… a lovely idea I think.
So this year, myself and two friends of mine signed ourselves up. We’re not joggers by any means so it was always going to be a walk but even if I’d intended a jog I think getting up at 2.15am and leaving my apartment half asleep would have put paid to that idea! So on a freezing cold wet Friday night into Saturday morning we met at the Papel Cross in the Phoenix Park in Dublin. We were early (I am ALWAYS early!) so had a bit of standing around to do after getting our t shirts. We huddled under a tree as it was sooooo cold and raining a bit.
I don’t tend to get too emotional any more when speaking about my Dad’s death as it’s something that I’ve had a long time to work through but to be honest standing there in the dark with two of my best friends who’d gotten up in the middle of the night to do this with me and looking around at thousands of others, young and old, who had done the same, I really did get a lump in my throat.
There were couples with young kids, some even pushing double buggies, groups of young lads and girls, more elderly people and even one class from a school in Dublin. It’s quite serious to think that most of these people have been affected in some way by suicide or suicidal thoughts – it definitely made me feel really sad to think of it but it also gave me a bit of a nice feeling inside to see how much people care and the effort they’ll go to just to get awareness out there and raise some money for a great charity.
So off we set at about 4.20, a slow start while everyone tripped over themselves, letting the runners go on ahead and then evening out the group into brisk walkers. We kept a pretty steady pace the whole way through. About half way through the sky started getting a bit brighter and by the time we were heading back up the hill toward the cross again it was a fresh bright morning. Everyone gathered back at the car park for a bit and grabbed a bottle of water (I’m so not used to doing 5k at 4.30!!) and chatted for a few minutes then off we headed for a Mc Donald’s brekkie on the way home!
It really was an emotional experience and the whole way through I had my Dad in my head. It took me a good few hours before I shook off the teary feeling. I think it was just to see so many people come together at one event for a cause that has such a stigma attached to it. It was something I was so glad to have been a part of and I’ll definitely be making it a yearly thing now… one day I may even jog it….. and I’ll remember to bring the tissues next time!
Pieta House have numerous centres around Dublin and one based in Limerick. For contact info and donation info please see their site:
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