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Jonathan’s story: “Why can’t I just be open about it, as I would if I had a migraine?”

To mark World Suicide Prevention Day, CALM published three suicide notes written by men who lived to tell the tale. One of those men, Jonathan Benjamin, is a mental health campaigner, vlogger and has an MBE. Here Jonny tells us about his experience since writing his suicide note in 2007.

Since writing the note, what has changed?

I’m in a very different place now. Thats not to say i dont have relapses. I’ve been suicidal again. And when those thoughts and feelings return they do so with the same intensity. But now I make sure I have an outlet for them. I recently used CALM’s webchat and found that very useful. Just expressing my suicidal thoughts can take away some of the grasp they seem to have on me.

It helps too that I work in this area now. I go into schools, prisons, workplaces etc. to talk about this issue all the time. Consequently I don’t get embarrassed and ashamed opening up like I did before. And that has made a huge difference.

Why did you decide to do this campaign for CALM?

I’m tired of hiding the suicidal urges when they come. Why cant I just be open about it, as I would if I had a migraine. Just like a migraine, I can’t control it when it occcurs. There’s so much fear and misjudgement around this topic, but CALM have made huge strides to change this so I want to support them in any way I can.

I’m tired of hiding the suicidal urges when they come. Why cant I just be open about it, as I would if I had a migraine.

What message, if any, would you have for people who may find themselves in a similar place as you were when you wrote this note?

The first thing I always say is that there is nothing to be embarassed about. Feeling suicidal is so much more common than people realise. It’s just that no-one wants to talk about it. But life can be so fucking hard and it’s ok to sometimes feel unable to carry on. It’s human!

The most important thing to remember is that it will pass. That can feel impossible in the moment but the thoughts and feelings do stop.

The most important thing to remember is that it will pass. That can feel impossible in the moment but the thoughts and feelings do stop.

What often helps me is writing. Just emptying my head into my notebook is a relief. Probably the biggest relief of all though is vocalising everything. This isn’t easy but I know that whenever I pick up the phone to a helpline like CALM’s I’ll always be met by someone who just understands and never judges my thoughts and feelings.

It feels like a massive weight lifts off my shoulders as soon as I begin opening up. Always.

CALM’s free, confidential, and anonymous helpline and webchat are open every day, 5pm – midnight. If you need help, or know someone that might, more information is available here.

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