This week I decided to explore the area that inspired my passion towards suicide prevention. Beachy Head-Eastbourne, which has one of the highest rates of suicide in the world according to statistics.
I write the following blog in memory of all those who have chosen to end their lives at this landmark;
I first visited the landmark in 2008 by accident when travelling around the south coast with my mother. I was aware that it is in fact a recognised beauty spot, but she neglected to tell me of it’s far more darker appeal. The memory of that day is still imprinted within my mind and I shall never forget it.
As I admired the spectacular coastline, I became aware of a continuous pattern of flowers, benches with individuals names inscribed on them, memorials all scattered along the path that marked the edge of the cliff.
I decided to take a few steps closer towards the looming edge of the clifftop and my heart sank as I saw the rusty shell of a car all crumpled up, desolate on the ledge of the lower cliff below. I was paralysed with horror when I realised it wasn’t just a well known beauty spot, but also a notorious suicide spot.
This week I wanted to visit Beachy Head to remind myself of why I chose my path in life, why I became a mental health nurse and why I feel suicide prevention is of paramount importance.
As I stood close to the edge , I tried to imagine how it must feel to want life to end. The utter hopelessness, desperation, entrapment of life.
I believe life is such a precious , valuable and wonderful God given gift, it is difficult to comprehend why anyone would want to wilfully terminate it.
However in that moment, I reflected upon times in my own life when I had felt those feelings, as I speak as honestly as I can to reach out to those who may be feeling this way .
But when I have felt this way; the feelings that consumed me were feelings of being suffocated by my own sense of self with nowhere to run, rationally (to the outside world), there is always an apparent ‘way out’ , but when you are in that mind set everything that is negative and dark about the world become encompassing to a point that death actually appears appealing.
I once went through a really tough time for over a year when I seriously imagined death would be better than being alive, I visited the local cathedral , lit a candle , said a prayer and thought about how I could rid myself of my own feelings of self hatred and inadequacy. My own failures and inability to overcome everything that was going on around me, my desire to ‘self destruct’ when I could not manage my inner emotions.
Suddenly , after praying, I visited the church gift shop and picked up a book, the words said something along the lines of ‘when you die you don’t feel anything bad, but you can’t feel the good either’.
I am not sure what I think of this statement, because I believe in God and I believe in heaven.
But all I thought about was those precious things that filled my life with happiness,
my beautiful nephews and niece laughing , my family, my friends, and the people I had met in my life that always believed in me and told me to keep going.
To anyone reading this who feels sad in life or is struggling, let me reassure you;
I understand how it feels to be rejected by those around you, feel inadequate , a failure , feel worthless, humiliated, criticised, used, hopeless , frustrated, like everyone is judging you and laughing at you. And I know many of these things have contributed to my own self destruction. My own need for approval from others, validation that I have a purpose that I am worth something.
Many people try to prove this through material possessions, cars, houses, clothes, levels of success, wealth, I myself am guilty of this because it is how the world has skewed people’ sense of their own self worth. And so people become followers of the same crowd, of the same shepherd , like lost sheep without and idea of there path and the consequences of there destination. I never met anyone with enough money, who didn’t always want more.
But I always met people who never complained about being loved, because you cannot measure love, not true love. And if we all had love around us in the world perhaps we wouldn’t measure ourselves up against parameters none of us can ever meet.
Except the one thing that gives me hope and a sense of self worth, is focussing on spiritual things. Beyond superficial , fickle, competitive ideals of this word.
I try to focus on a spiritual world, which I do believe exists where only unconditional love prevails.
So in conclusion these are the things I believe have got me through life,
My faith in God-spirituality
The people around me who TRULY care, love and accept me, not for any other motivation except for the goodness of there own hearts.
Knowing that I have a purpose in the world, as we all do; not of a self seeking , materialistic nature but more of an altruistic purpose which I believe we were all born to have. To use our own pain and hurts to help others .
If I was the person on that cliff edge this is what I would want someone to say to me ;
Take some deep breaths
Meditate on the people in your life who you love care for and value .
Think about how much they love you and how much you mean to them.
Try and talk to someone you trust and tell them how you feel, try to avoid people you think will be judgmental, negative or critical towards you, but gravitate towards kind, warm and empathetic people, if you look carefully you will find them in your life, like little beacons of light.
Like the view from the cliff top, you can look down and see the abyss, or you can look forward and you’ll see the lighthouse.
Try to contact a helpline; Samaritans, Papyrus . (Phone numbers are available on this site or google them)
See your GP if you feel at all low in mood or simply ‘not yourself’ – be honest with yourself
Most of all we all are born with a choice, to allow negativity , hatred, the insecurities of others flood into our lives and erode our own sense of self worth because they are fragile themselves. Because we live in a world that I believe has lost it’s ability to love in some respects…but it can still be found if we look in the right places, in the hearts of the right people.
We need to stand up and fight as human beings and know our own value and self worth. We are created with value and purpose and one of my favourite biblical quotes is this;
‘I know the thoughts I think towards you, thoughts of peace and not evil, to give you a future and a hope .’ (Jeremiah 29:11).
At my darkest moments I cling to this the most with faith and trust in God and I hope that if you are reading this with a sad heart, you will find love and goodness in your life too. Avoid people who you feel bad around, no one should ever make you feel bad. You are worth more than that, once you know your own self worth you will realise that how precious you are as it also says in the bible ;
‘Do not throw your pearls to the pigs ‘ Matthew 7:6.
I think there is a very symbolic meaning in this about valuing one self and steering clear of people who don’t love, value or respect you as you truly are.
They will never recognise true worth because they are far too focussed on other things. Birds of a feather flock together (so my mum always said!)
I’ve learnt that lesson many times and it has always made me a stronger more focussed individual.
Believe in yourself, self worth and own inner strength and as you pray and believe , you will get stronger, just don’t give up, because every thing has a season, and no season lasts forever, the sunshine follows the moon, spring follows winter, its a cycle of growth , cultivation and new life.
I hope somehow this will resonate with some who read it and I pray you gain something positive from it.
Most of all I really pray for every individual who never found an answer to their inner pain and torment , I pray for their souls that they may now have found the peace they were is so much desperation for and for the families that somehow they may find some comfort in believing that those they loved are now in peace in a world no one could comprehend.