My intention of posting more regularly on Luke’s website sadly failed due to various problems that had to be attended to. Everything was taking longer because my eye sight was getting worse and driving became difficult during the day and impossible after dark. Now thanks to the expertise of a talented surgeon I have what I call my ‘driving lens’ and in November I will be having a ‘reading lens.’ It seems like a miracle to be able to see so much more clearly and drive safely.
In July I went to Southrop C of E School and talked to the children about this year’s competition for The Luke Bitmead Literary Award. They were enthusiastic to join in a game I had invented using words and there was a great atmosphere of creativity.
The closing date for the Award is 28th September and I will be looking forward to reading the stories that children have written expressing their knowledge of ‘feelings’ and how to manage them. I’m sure it will be wonderfully interesting and I will learn much from the way they describe their perception of feelings.
The exceptional journalist,
Bryony Gordon, who I talked to about Luke’s death, continues to be a leading light in bringing new ideas as to how we talk about suicide. Bryony was asked by a woman she met at a charity walk organised by the suicide prevention charity CLASP if she and fellow journalists would stop using the phrase “committed suicide” as she and other people bereaved by suicide found it offensive because it implied suicide was a crime – which it was, in this country, until 1961. She explained that when people wrote or spoke about someone “committing” suicide it gave the impression that taking one’s own life is a selfish, cowardly, criminal or irreligious act, rather than the manifestation of extreme mental distress and unbearable pain that it is.
Research shows that responsible stories, such as hopeful journeys of recovery, can actually help to reduce suicide. Cross party MPs, the heads of mental health charities and leading mental health campaigners such as Stephen Fry and Professor Wendy Burn, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists are all signatories to a letter that Briony and Luciana Burger compiled to demonstrate to journalists how the power of their words could be part of reducing suicide. I hope that posting this on Luke’s website will reach more people who will remember to use the terminology “death by suicide” which helps reduce the feeling of stigma and shame that prevent people who experience suicidal thoughts from asking for help. Shame is sometimes felt by people who are grieving for a loved one who has died by suicide and so it is deemed not permissible to talk about the tragedy. When this happens, we are guilty of confirming the belief that it is shameful. In fact what is shameful is not talking about it and helping understanding to grow so we can all play our part in creating a society where our mental health is talked about freely. And that includes suicide.
I speak as a mother whose son died by suicide as had his Grandfather, Uncle and after Luke’s death, his Father. The Grandfather and Uncle were rarely mentioned and the reasons why these deaths had happened was not openly discussed. Trans generational trauma needs better understanding. This story clearly demonstrates how important it is to create a CHANGE IN THE WAY WE TALK ABOUT SUICIDE.