“I’m more sorry than I have ever been about anything. But it’s not your fault and there’s nothing you could have done."
These aren't words you often read in a Sunday newspaper. These are words from a real suicide note. Words that offer an insight into a private, personal moment of pain.
Today, the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) has published three real suicide notes in national newspapers to mark World Suicide Prevention Day. They are hard to read; shocking in fact. But more shocking are the facts behind these three individuals’ stories.
Stats released just days ago show that 4,287 men took their own lives in Great Britain in 2016 - that’s one man every two hours. The figures also show men are three times more likely than women to take their own lives. Which means, if you’re male and under the age of 45 in this country, the thing most likely to kill you is you.
If you’re male and under the age of 45 in this country, the thing most likely to kill you is you.
But the tide is slowly turning. CALM has been campaigning to keep men alive for more than ten years, and actively prevented 456 suicides in 2016. The national male suicide rate decreased slightly in 2015, and again in 2016, which the Office for National Statistics has put down to the work of organisations like CALM.
All of which proves our fundamental belief: suicide is preventable. In fact, all three men who authored the suicide notes we’ve published today lived to tell the tale.
Jonathan, now 30, penned his suicide note in 2012, before a stranger intervened and saved his life. Since then he has had suicidal feelings, but explains how he now knows how to cope with them:
"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."
Ronnie, also 30, wanted to share his own note in order to reach others who might be feeling or have felt the same way. His message is clear:
"If suicide could be as omnipresent in our society as cancer is today it would make it so much 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.'"
Bobby, 35, has been able to find a way out of his darkest moments by focusing on the fact that nothing lasts forever.
"Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. We are all from the same family, but the illusion of being alone can be incredibly powerful. But it is just that - an illusion."
Today’s campaign is built upon our belief that more men like Jonathan, Ronnie, and Bobby can go through a rough time and live to tell the tale. CALM’s research shows that almost 4 in 10 men under the age of 45 in the UK have contemplated suicide at some point in their lives. It's not unusual to have those feelings from time to time. By sharing these stories, together we can help build a world in which it’s also not unusual to survive and go on to live a life less miserable.
Jonathan's story | Ronnie's story | Bobby's story
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.