To mark World Suicide Prevention Day, CALM published three suicide notes written by men who lived to tell the tale. One of those men, comedian and writer Ronnie Joice, shares his experience with us.
Looking back to the time you wrote the note, what lead you to writing it?
I'd tried to burn every bridge possible. I'd taken solace in the fact that I'd nowhere left to turn. I'd looked around my empty flat, and all I had for company were my favourite songs. The denial, that my reality was so bleak, had formed like the heaviest of all the black clouds in life I'd encountered and that denial had persisted until I reached this part of my life.
The fight you have when you decide to wake up in the morning, and put the past day - or even nightmare that evening - behind you, had disappeared. I couldn't wash my hair, brush my teeth, adjust my tie. It was all lost. I felt totally lost, but with nowhere to scream. I was physically and mentally tired and totally defeated.
I felt totally lost, but with nowhere to scream. I was physically and mentally tired and totally defeated.
I'd tried my best within my means to burn every fucking bridge I could possibly burn to the point where I didn't want anyone around me. I was so far gone from reality, with no ambition. I was wide-awake, yet dreaming of sleep. But not like after a long hard day in the office sleep. Eternal sleep. Ultimately, this note was written with a desire to get there.
How did you find your way out of the crisis?
I knew at the time of writing this letter that this wasn't a proper situation to be in, so I offered out an olive branch. After I wrote it, I sent it to someone close, who knew me better than anyone else and because I felt the need to prove the state I was in; it totally backfired on my attempts for sympathy. They screamed at me for being so selfish, for scaring them so much, and it gave me the reality check that sent me on my way with a fresh perspective and a desire for a natural sleep like I hadn’t had in weeks.
I feel lucky I didn't die in that sleep, and when I woke up, I knew that it was time to move away and change my life once and for all.
Why did you decide to do this campaign for CALM?
My younger brother lost his best friend to suicide, and it rocked his world - my strong, brilliant brother was a shell of a man from it. So I'd always been so careful to discuss the word around him. Even now, I know he is so furious that I'd have considered that as an option. He speaks with so much passion about suicide being the biggest killer of young men, and if everyone could project that fact in society, it would be as ominipresent as cancer is today - and it would make it so much fucking easier to talk about.
If suicide was as ominipresent as cancer is today, it would make it so much fucking easier to talk about.
It’s hard to know when someone is on that journey, but if my note resonates with you - then it's worked. If someone who reads my note felt like I did, well, I want them to read it and decide, “No. I won’t feel like this anymore.”
So I am opening a huge part of my past in order to liberate an entire generation of young men who feel like they can't say that "yeah, I've felt like this before too - and now, what the fuck should I do about it?"
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?
Ask for help, get help, and surround yourself with people who want to help. Then talk. Don’t be ashamed to tell people the truth. There is no other way of getting to the depth of your problems unless you open up about them.
Start making in-roads by rejecting things that ruin your own happiness. Don’t scapegoat exterior factors that allow you to become a martyr for your own inner turmoil. Go and see your doctor, ring a helpline, call your mother, tell your brother. Just please do whatever you have to not become another god-damn statistic.
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.