Real Bodies: LIFE DOCTOR

It is the first day of spring. Hurrah! Sunshine, flowers, long nights. Reasons to be cheerful, there are loads of them. Yippidee-do.

Sadly, nonsense like this is one reason why more people commit suicide in spring than at any other time of year. Everyone's miserable in winter, but if your life doesn't spring up with the eponymous season then you can feel more rubbish than ever.

Of course, this column is meant to be amusing (although from the letters I receive, I'm not sure many people realise this) and suicide isn't funny. But that's the very reason why it's a topic for the section we like to call Real Life.

"It's still hugely taboo," says Justin Irwin at the Samaritans. "But it's only by discussing it that things can get better. Since it was made legal in 1967 the suicide rates have dropped."

And it's not something that only affects the minority. "Research suggests that at any one time 1 per cent of the population is contemplating suicide," says Irwin. Several people who are reading this column right now. One in a hundred? How many people do you know?

So let's talk about suicide. It happens. And it does not just affect one person - it reverberates through families, colleagues, neighbours and friends.

"When my sister committed suicide," says Rebecca, 28, "I felt like I had to be aware of other people's feelings. I couldn't mention it without people getting embarrassed. It was like it was too awful. I felt guilty, stupid for not seeing it coming, worried that I might do the same thing. But if no one will talk about it you're left on your own. People would see me to be supportive and then would apologise for laughing in my presence. In the end it was only by going to a support group and laughing and crying and getting stuff out that I stopped feeling so awful. Suicide is not a word you should have to whisper."

There are 6,000 suicides a year in Britain but there may be many more that are tactfully given the verdict of accidental death. Men are more than twice as likely to successfully commit suicide while women are more than twice as likely to try. While it is more common in older people, the numbers in young men are increasing faster than any other group in society.

Who is at risk? Bad life events, clinical depression and social isolation are all potential triggers. There is a genetic link. But anyone can get miserable.

"Anecdotally," says Justin Irwin "people who talk about committing suicide don't do it. Look instead for change in people. Physical signs. They're not eating. They're normally quiet and suddenly they're really loud. Or they are silent for long periods. If you think they're in danger then talk to them about it. People think that if they mention suicide to someone it might give them the idea and push them over the edge but research has shown that isn't so."

I hope your spring is a happy one. But if you feel miserable because the weather has improved but your life hasn't, talk to someone. If you feel happy, talk to someone who doesn't. Above all don't worry if everyone else looks happy - they're probably just squinting in the sun. Spring isn't that good really. Two days of sunshine and it's already impossible to walk through city centres without falling over people desperately attempting cafe culture. And it'll get worse. Soon they'll be wearing shorts.

Samaritans Helpline: 0345 909090.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

    £30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

    Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive

    £18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

    Recruitment Genius: Service Engineers - Doncaster / Hull

    £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...

    Recruitment Genius: Employability / Recruitment Adviser

    £23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...

    Day In a Page

    Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

    The secret CIA Starbucks

    The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
    Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

    How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

    The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
    One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

    One million Britons using food banks

    Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

    The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
    Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
    Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

    Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

    They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
    Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
    The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

    The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

    Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
    How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

    How to run a restaurant

    As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
    Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

    Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

    For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
    Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

    Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

    The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
    10 best tote bags

    Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

    We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
    Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

    Paul Scholes column

    I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...