Heads up, this post covers suicide and may cause some distress. There are contact details for support agencies at the bottom of this page. Latest figures I could find suggest more than one in ten suicides are related to chronic illness, so this is something we really need to talk more openly about.
Suicide has sadly touched me closely as I lost my beautiful sister Mary to it nearly ten years ago. I miss her every day. But for the first time on my blog the words below are not mine.
An online RA friend posted these words in our private support group this evening, and they are powerful and moving. I have her permission to share, and she has my promise to remain anonymous.
“Today I had to do something that I never dreamed I would. I had to go to a friend’s wake. My friend had other health issues which she was dealing really well with but was diagnosed with RA a couple years ago.
Her RA was progressively getting worse, I had talked to recently and I thought I had convinced her to join our group for support. However she tragically took her own life this week.
She left a note and the main gist was that RA had turned her into a person that she didn’t like anymore. She felt like she was more of a hindrance. She did not want to go into a wheelchair. She did not want to put any pressure on anyone in her family because she felt RA was her problem to deal with. She was ashamed of the condition that her body was in. She was ashamed of the fact that she was always so tired and that she had to cancel family things because she just did not have the energy.
Attending her wake hit me hard. I think of all of us that have RA know about all of the different feelings and emotions that we go through. Everything she mentioned in that letter I have felt at some time. The reason why I brought this to our group is to show that RA is not only a physical disorder, it also affects us mentally.
RA turns your life upside-down, inside-out, and sideways. But for me this is no reason to take your life over this disease. To me that means the disease won.
I’m putting this out to the group so when you get depressed or you’re having a bad day or even having these thoughts please please reach out. Tell someone that you need help because you are in a bad spot emotionally. There will be many people that will help. I was always told when you have a problem and you share it with another person your problem is cut in half.
This is a subject that we all need to talk about. The suicide rate among chronically ill people like us is very high. Let’s not allow that statistic to continue. I can tell you from seeing it right up in my face and also seeing the grief of her children and her husband the damage done by my friend taking her life is worse than having Rheumatoid Disease.
So this has opened my eyes and I’m encouraging us all to reach out and asking people who say they are having a bad day what’s going on, and how you can help. I have been part of this group I think 3 or 4 years now. I have developed friendships with a bunch of you and I truly do care. You guys have become my family.
For those of you that are new or that sit in the background and read the posts, please introduce yourself, talk to us, let us get to know you.
Most importantly if you are having thoughts of committing self-harm or suicide please put it out there. There is always someone always online. I do not want to lose another friend because he or she thought they were all alone and the only way out was to commit suicide.”
Contact details for confidential support:
UK – The Samaritans
Canada – The Lifeline provides a list of contact details for individual states, a national helpline is planned for later this year
Australia – Lifeline Crisis Support & Suicide Prevention