Contrary to how it looks, this story is not just some light-hearted tale to read to Fluffy the dog at bedtime: ‘The Day Mummy Made A Jam Sandwich.’ It’s actually a true story.
Once upon a time, there was a journalist who became really nervous because she decided to write on one of things we hardly talk about.
At first, she approached it confidently. After all, she had written on many other topics before and was greatly inspired by the work of Lois Lane and, very much, Superman. She started to type words like ‘suicide’ into Google and was stunned by what she found.
A cold, hard, true fact sound accosted her computer screen. Hundreds of precious lives were untimely taken in Australia every year.
She became even more nervous; how on earth could she write about these distressing facts and shape them into something informative but best case scenario, inspiring?
The topic was sobering and cold when she thought about it, or ‘them’ more specifically.
People like, mothers grieving a son or daughter who they still think about every day; an empty chair at dinner time which is too painful to think about or not think about it. Fathers robbed of the opportunity to hug their child, no matter how old that child was, or maybe ever meet grandchildren. Partners, spouses, and high school sweethearts – devastated – as the love of their lives has unfairly departed.
The effects of this illness ripple on: affecting whole circles of people, which affect other whole circles of other people: mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, colleagues, comrades; and, of course, mates, buddies, pals, admirers, protégées, little kids and friends.
These untimely deaths can leave a gun shaped hole in one’s heart which seems to never heal. Numb and confused, those affected continue to trudge through the motions of life: work, sleep, graduations, weddings – but it is never the same.
Bittersweet, lucid dreams act like a bridge to the loved one but are soon abruptly ended by a buzzing alarm or waking with fresh tears in the night. After realising this, the journalist became pretty saddened herself and came to a blindingly obvious realisation.
“Suicide affects more than just the person involved,” she mused out loud in a Carrie Bradshaw soliloquy-way as she typed on her laptop.
“There are so many more affected than the victim: the family, the partner, the friends – they become victims too. Hearts are torn to pieces with grief and sorrow, many never recovering.”
Although, at this point,she wanted to pull out of writing this article, delete what was already written and copy/paste some enticing apple strudels recipes here instead, but nonetheless the story continued.
Coming to The Australian Bureau of Statistics, she almost spat out the gulp of skinny macchiato she’d taken. Incredulous.
Suicide is the leading cause of death for young people in Australia, people aged between 15 and 35. Even above any form of cancer.
The journalist didn’t know what to research or write next. A part of her wanted to run up to random people walking down the street and hug them, saying: “Please! Never! Do! This! There are so many people who love you! And, even though I don’t know you, I love you too!”
Picturing herself getting arrested for weird displays of public affection and then doubting whether prison was a good launch pad for a writer, she continued on.
So, saddened again by her research, she tried to make sense of it. More questions:
“How do we prevent this from happening? How do we pick up on the warning signs in others? And, if we are the ones, how do we help ourselves?”
All tough, big questions. She found the best information at a place called beyondblue.org.au
Speaking about this to a friend one night as they took their pet dinosaur, Hector,* for an ice-cream and a walk along the beach, the journalist was conflicted by all her findings.
“I just want people to know that there is always hope,” she said.
“But how do you convey this in a sensitive manner? How do we prevent all these beautiful people from leaving the earth, never to come back? How do you tell someone something akin to this: there’s are no problems, only solutions?”
“Hmmm,” said her friend patting Hector and restraining him as he tried to play-fight a black miniature poodle with sharp teeth which snarled at him in fear and aggression.
“I don’t know the answer but let’s talk about it. Let’s not shrug off these difficult questions and bury our heads in the sand, like Hector is trying to do to that little poodle at the moment.”**
“That’s true. And we really need Hope. How do you find it though?”
The journo didn’t answer her friend and the conversation naturally trailed off, for reasons related to this story.
Then, one day, after researching and pondering the question of Hope, there she discovered some good news.
She’d thought Hope was this elusive and quite rare quality found only in some parts of the world where were buffet breakfasts and coconut trees were the norm, and inside a small population of people on the motivational speaking circuit or who regularly sojourned at Disneyland.
But no, that was actually a lie: Hope is much more widespread than that; it actually is an automatic feature that comes with being human, this nifty little Hope Button inside us al.l (Please contact manufacturer if you think you are missing your Hope Button.)
Then the journalist saw something written about Hope on one of her friend’s Facebook page. Intrigued, she saw this:
“When the world says, ‘Give up!’ Hope whispers, “Try it one more time.”
Sometimes darkness can seem so gripping that it seems too hard to even acknowledge. When we do even acknowledge it, much of the overwhelming scariness of it dissipates. And then, confronting it, dealing with it, winning against it (Beyondblue 1300 22 46 36) changes everything, for the better. It’s easy; just push the Hope Button, it’s a permanent fixture to being human and never is it too late to give it a push.
After finding out all this, the journalist stopped being scared, and felt silly that she had been so nervous about writing about the topic although if she ever sends this article out to be published it’s likely that the apple strudel recipe will be included as well.
And so, everyone lived happily ever after or something like that, with the exception of poor Hector who remains in his fragmented fossil form, dreaming of the day when he would get to taste ice-cream, something cruelly invented years after his extinction.
*Sadly, no such dinosaur as Hector exists. Behold shameless, sensationalised journalism at its very worst: designed to keep both a distracted reader and Mediawatch intrigued.
Copyright Anna Kosmanovski, 2012