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Blog: Time to talk about suicide

If you ask any television journalist about the stories they find hardest to cover, I bet suicide will be on their list.

It's not just the fact they're inherently upsetting, or involve unsavoury details that are hard to stomach.

It's because in practice, you need the families, left reeling from such trauma, to open up on camera.

And in my eight years of reporting in such a small community, that's been a near impossible task... until today.

I applaud and admire Andy Le Seelleur's decision to talk about his wife's suicide.

There is often such misplaced shame, secrecy and stigma attached to the subject, that it maintains misconceptions in society.

An attitude of 'us' and 'them'. People who can cope with life. And those who can't.

But the truth is, many of life's problems are inextricably linked with mental health problems.

And since we all have mental health and all experience difficulties at one time or another, we should all care about the treatment and help available.

What struck me more than anything about this story is that given the right circumstances, the wrong combination of stressors and timely triggers, any one of us could be vulnerable.

It's therefore vital to know that the safety net is there to catch us if we fall.

The World Health Organisation estimates that one million people die each year from suicide.

To those not in the grips of suicidal depression, it's hard to understand what drives so many to it.

Monika, viewed from the outside, had a happy life. She was a beautiful woman, married to a successful man, with two gorgeous boys.

But she had a history of depression, had experienced some trauma earlier on in life and did not access psychological help until it was too late.

Like many loved ones left behind, I know Andy has a host of thoughts that begin with the words 'if only...'

But he knows you can't change the past, so is using his experience to help change the future, raising awareness and pushing for much-needed improvements in mental health services.

In opening up his heart, Andy has opened up a conversation.

A conversation that says it's ok to talk about suicide, it's ok to say 'I'm struggling' and it's ok to demand better care for the most vulnerable.

Due to his bravery, I hope others will feel more comfortable about speaking out.

The question now is, will society continue to talk and more importantly, will government listen?

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