As I sat down to write this, I realised I was going to be writing something completely different to the post I originally planned to. My plan was to write an advice post about how to identify when somebody was suicidal.  I got all my resources together, started to do all my research, but then I started to feel flat and uneasy about doing the warning signs. Sure, I could write about those signs, such as; Talking about suicide, Making statements about feeling hopeless, helpless, or worthless, A deepening depression, Preoccupation with death. Taking unnecessary risks or exhibiting self-destructive behaviour, Out of character behaviour, A loss of interest in the things one cares about, Visiting or calling people one cares about. Making arrangements; setting one’s affairs in order, Giving prized possessions away – all this stuff you can find elsewhere on the internet. Sure, they can be signs that your teenager is contemplating suicide, but in reality, for me, they don’t stack up.
You see, in 2006 I tried – and thankfully failed – to commit suicide. But that wasn’t my only brush with suicide. Sadly I have known a few people – including one of my own bullies – who have decided to take that route out of life. Without wanting to sound too sentimental, life is the most precious gift we could ever have been given. So, to the majority of people, the idea of deciding to reject that gift can be a concept too far. I can fully appreciate it is difficult to compute. However, too often people are quick to make judgements on people who have tried to commit suicide.
A couple of years ago I was talking to someone about a friend of mine who had recently tried to commit suicide – again, thankfully failing. – the person I was conversing with was completely ignorant of the fact that I myself had gone down that route once upon a time, and I wonder if his comment to me would have been any different if he had known. For he said, “To be honest, I believe trying to commit suicide is a sign that you are weak.”
Now, I can fully appreciate where this guy was coming from. But he was in fact well off the mark. As I have said, ending your life is not a decision you make lightly. People, such as myself battled through one misery after another, getting knocked down every time we tried to get up. Getting up after getting knocked down takes courage, getting up a second, third, fourth or fifth time even more so.  When you see someone at the point of suicide, what you are seeing is someone who has no longer got the energy to be strong enough to get up for the one-thousandth time. There is no weakness to speak of.

The other myth that is often told, is that the person who commits suicide is selfish. Yes, again I can understand where this is coming from, but keep in mind the person committing suicide isn’t thinking straight.  They have got themselves to the point where everything has been internalised. They will often see everything that has gone wrong in their lives as their fault. They perceive themselves as the component that has caused so much heartache and misery. I certainly know that when I tried to commit suicide I believed that if I was not on the planet all my loved ones would be better off. I didn’t know at that time the power within me to really make a positive difference in people’s lives.  All I saw was the pain and torment that seemed to follow me. So, even though you could still argue that this is still egomaniacal, which I wouldn’t argue with, it definitely isn’t selfish.
About a month after my suicide attempt I was out having a bite to eat with someone I thought at the time was a friend. About half way through the meal he turned to me and said: “You know Tom, if you had succeeded last month, sure we would all have been sad, but in the long run no one would have cared.” I try not to tell this story too often, but when I do there is often an audible intake of breath. I am pleased that there is as it reassures me that unlike the other two examples I have used, this one most people will disagree and disapprove of. However, again I can understand where this guy was coming from – though, I did cut him out of my life shortly after this. – my suicide would not have made as much of an impact on the world as my life since my suicide attempt has and will continue to do. Though this is very different from people caring.
It is this that I want to finish on. Please care, but more than that show it. Too many people and I regret to say it, a large number of parents believe that the caring, and their love can be taken for granted. They believe their child just automatically knows that they love them. Even if they do, that shouldn’t be an excuse to not tell them so every single day. For a lot of people considering committing suicide, it might be just what they need to hear to stop them. The arrow that pierces the darkness. I will confess that for some, they do reach a point of no return. Some it may be minutes, others it may be months. For me, it was about three days before.  But if you have been telling them you love them – and showing them it’s true – every single day, you may have just prevented your worst fear becoming reality.
Tom Turner

Tom Turner

Founder & CEO

Tom has going on 24 years worth of experience of working with children and young people. Having started when he himself was only 11.

He has worked in various roles, from babysitting, helping run his churches Kids Church, as well as various youth groups. Including various Friday night youth groups, a political consultation group for young people to have their say on matters concerning young people that were currently going through parliament, and the UK Youth Parliament.

For a number of years worked as a mentor for troubled young people who were at risk of falling out of the system. While volunteering he went through Level 3 training in mentorship.

While still at school Tom was trained up as a mediator and helped make a difference in the lives of his fellow students who had fallen into conflict. He was even featured in a local ITV program about the mediation training.

Tom has studied both Child Development and Child Psychology and hopes to take this line of study further in the future. In the meantime, he has gained a Level 2 Counselling certificate and will be working towards Level 3 very soon.

Tom’s real experience, however, is first hand. Having been bullied from the age of 11 through to 19. It was this the finally lead him to set up Strength Restored in order to make a difference in the lives.

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