Thanks for chatting to me, Ashley. Where to start?

Might start from the beginning… My dad died when I was eight years old. I was told that he died in an accident, but I was very, very sceptical about this. I think you always know something is not right.

About three years later, Mum told me that Dad died by suicide. I knew what the concept of suicide was but did not fully understand it.

It must have been hard to make sense of it all at that age.

Absolutely. It’s not something people talk to children about. At the time, it was hard for me to understand why someone would take their life. I felt confused and angry and guilty. I wondered about what could have been different.

It was like I had to go through the grieving process all over again. It took me a long time to wrap my head around it and understand that it was a chain of events and he had been suffering for a long time.

It sounds like it was a tough time for you

It was. Nobody talks about the real side of suicide. It feels like something that exists, but not really, not until it happens to you. I was the only person in my circle experiencing this, and I did not feel comfortable sharing. It felt like my deepest, darkest secret.

What helps you cope?

It is nice to have friends who you can trust and rely on and exchange experiences with you even if they are not about suicide. It is also nice to meet and talk with people who have been through something similar.

I am currently involved in lived experience advocacy work and advisory groups, and it feels good to work together to do something to change the next person’s experience.

I’m so glad that you had such supportive friends. What if people don’t know what to say sometimes?

It helps to have an open approach and just listen and say I’m sorry, even if you don’t know what else to say. It seems simple, but it makes all the difference when someone is sensible and sensitive about it.

Thanks for sharing that with me.