Today is World Suicide Prevention Day.
Years ago, a friend told me she thought that the world was divided into two sorts of people – those who had seriously contemplated suicide, and those who had never even considered it.
At the time, I felt sceptical, because thinking about suicide started for me in early childhood and I’d always assumed that everyone did it, but when I asked around, it turned out maybe she was right. Lots of friends told me it had never even occurred to them, but for others it was like a kind of home base, the place they always returned to in their dark times.
I think young people who have this mindset are particularly vulnerable because they don’t have the experience yet to know those desperate feelings do pass, and things do get better. Most of those who have made serious suicide attempts express gratitude later that they didn’t succeed.
So the message older people want to give to vulnerable young people is ‘Hold on’, as in the classic REM song “Everybody Hurts’ which was written in deliberately straightforward language, for pre-college teens.
Lesbian, gay,bisexual and transgender teenagers have a very much increased risk of suicide, and there’s great work being done for them in the It Gets Better Project, where ordinary LGBT adults share their stories of getting through horrible times at school to go on and lead successful lives in happy relationships.
Siblings of suicide are another very high risk group, and they’re the people I wanted to tell, as a survivor of sibling suicide, it does get better. I’ve done it the best way I know how to, in my new Young Adult novel, Drift, the story of a 16-year-old girl whose brother has killed himself.
It’s her story, not mine, but because of my story, I knew how to write it.
Drift is published today.
You can read my first interview about the book on the book eaters site.
‘If I had to summarise this book with just one word, it would be beautiful…’ See the rest of young book blogger Marta’s review here.