Monday, 8 May 2017

The Black Dog at University.

Update: 8th May 2017.
Five Suicides at The University of Bristol.
University of Bristol.

Most of the headlines on today's newspapers are about yesterday's 'Autumn Statement. I watched that on TV yesterday and listened to the debates.
Scrolling a little way down my news app (The Times and Sunday Times) I am shocked and dismayed to see the news of three suspected suicides at Bristol University, all of which have occurred in this new academic year.
We all read and watch so much news that our 'shock' reaction button has become somewhat muted but I find 'news' like this utterly shocking as well as so desperately sad.
I walk my dog around a beautiful park everyday, there is a particularly lovely old tree that has little flowers planted at its base, the flowers are incongruous to the seasons, obviously picked up in a nursery and planted with hope that they will survive the frosts to which they are unaccustomed. The tree has recently had some of its branches lopped. This is in an attempt to stop people hanging themselves from this, The Suicide Tree.

The deaths of three eighteen year old students fills me with anger as well as grief. Why has this been allowed to happen? Surely the first suicide should have sent shock waves amongst the staff and alerted them that a closer watch on their students was necessary?  Surely there is an action plan that is set in place as soon as such a tragic event occurs, don't ears prick up and eyes open wider when there is a sniff of danger in the air?
It would seem that the answer is no.
What has happened to us as a society when the death of a young person because they were struggling with their mental health is just a statistic and not a story that deserves thorough investigation?
Leaving home and going to uni is a huge step for a young person . As a 'grown-up' I am well accustomed to the excitement of 'newness' wearing off pretty rapidly and 'mundaneness' slipping in almost unnoticed. As a grown-up I can deal with social media, even scathing or patronising remarks from people who should really know better, (Twitter can be evil, esp during political debates) As a grown-up I have developed a thick skin but I have had to grow up in order to acquire it. Young people today, those in the 16-24 year old age group will be the first to have grown up with social media and the benefits and drawbacks it brings. They will also have grown up with the words: depression, anxiety and disorder.
These words have crept into our language with devastating effects. These words allow the ownership of negativity. These words do not encourage the fight against these monsters of doom.
And we need to fight them and we need to teach our young people to fight them.
We need to re-frame words in order to remove their power.
From a very young age I was told never to use the word 'depressed' in vain. I could be 'pissed off' 'fed up'  or'very fed up' and believe me I have been but that early lesson has prevented me from owning depression.
Anxiety is another word that seems to actually induce anxiety.
As does panic and compulsive.
These words don't mean we are ill or that we will never recover they are just words.

We are living in a world that has changed vastly in a short space of time. Who would have envisaged living in a world where it is so much harder to communicate with each other despite there having been a nuclear explosion in communicative development?
It's mad.
And it can be very difficult sometimes to see a light at the end of the tunnel. It can be very hard to struggle through difficult and confusing times in life. It can feel lonely.
But with help and support it is possible to get through such dark times.
'Through' being the operative word.


Celia Turner. SAC Dip. ( Professional Therapeutic Counselling)