The tragic death of Keith Flint is a reminder that evil curse of depression can lurk unseen in so many people. Suddenly, out of left field, we hear that someone has committed suicide. We had no idea that anything was wrong. Yet something was very wrong. Why didn’t they tell us?
I can’t answer that because I do not know what goes on behind closed doors. It’s always a shock, especially when it’s someone you know, or someone famous who appeared to have everything. Take Gary Speed, the former footballer, who, seemingly without warning, took his own life. As a society, can’t we do a bit better than this and ensure that people are able to obtain help when they are at their weakest and most vulnerable?
It took a lot for me to ‘come out’ as a depressive and yet it didn’t. I’d gone through most of my life bottling everything up. I can’t tell you why. Perhaps, I didn’t want to come across as what idiots nowadays call a snowflake. It was okay to say you were physically ill. But what if you were mentally ill? Was it even an illness at all?
I came out when it didn’t matter. My civil service career, such as it was, was over. I wasn’t a kid anymore, I had no reason to conceal it. I was the lucky one. I suppose things have never got so bad, so hopeless, that dying was a better alternative to living. And now it’s all out there, in my own admittedly small world, I feel more secure. When people bottle up stuff forever, who knows where that leads?
You do not need reminding that the NHS is under severe pressure at the moment. Given that mental health has always been a Cinderella service, no one can be surprised that mental health was in the front line for cuts. By its very nature, the austerity of David Cameron, Nick Clegg, George Osborne and Theresa May has killed people. I don’t know how these wretched politicians, not least the devout Godwhacker Mrs May, can live with themselves. In the unlikely event that God exists, she’ll be in a lot of bother come judgement day.
I am far from convinced that it’s safe for absolutely everyone to come out with their mental health issues. Some employers are superb, others are terrible. And there is still a mindset among many that mental illness is nothing more than something you should be able to snap yourself out of. If only that were true. And if it were true, the world would not be full of grieving families, wondering what on earth had led to another suicide. Guilt upon tragedy.
I don’t have the answer but I do know that our current mental health arrangements are inadequate. When I became ill in 2017, I had to wait 14 months for therapy. All the NHS could offer me were more drugs. At least I recognised something was wrong and did something about it. That’s why I was lucky. If you reach rock bottom and see no other way, you might not make the same choices I did.
That stigma. It’s still here. It hasn’t gone away. Some attitudes are changing, some aren’t. And people are still dying. There has to be a better way of catching people when they are falling. Because now, there is nothing.