We need to realise that people who appear ‘happy’ can be depressed, too

My friend committed suicide, but I never knew anything was wrong


I apologise if you were expecting one of the usually more light-hearted Tab articles, this is going to be slightly more serious and one that you will hopefully take note of.

Suicide is the second most common cause of death in young adults and the incidence is rising. But the thing with statistics is that they are distant. We all hear of stories of someone who has committed suicide, but we never think it will be someone we know.

Someone who you had provided countless assists for on the football pitch, someone who you shared your first pint with, someone who would never fail to make you smile. Someone we care about. The last time I saw my friend he was the happiest person around – it was the first time we were all back together since we had headed off in our different directions for uni. He was laughing, making jokes and obviously – us being us – being a little bit rowdy. A crazy night ensued, filled with drama that we only remembered through the medium of snapchat stories. That was the last time I saw him.

I wrote this on the train back to Edinburgh after spending a few days watching my friendship group and his family grieve.

It’s hard for me to describe the feelings that race through you when you’re being told that one of your friends have just died. Everyone experiences it differently I suppose, some of my friends balled out in tears and cried until they physically couldn’t any more. For me, however, everything just stopped. I was in a state of shock that I had never come close to before in my life, I didn’t know what to do or feel. I’ve been trying to find a way to describe the feeling, but I simply don’t think there’s a word that exists, gut-wrenching is the closest that I can come up with and even that seems like an incredible understatement.

There was part of me that was angry at him for doing what he had done , part of me that was angry at myself for not being able to do anything to prevent it. There was even a part of me that thought that it was some kind of sick joke, he was always a prankster after all, I just refused to believe it. “Not him, No. It can’t be true. It doesn’t make sense”.

The reality is that depression can affect anyone, no matter how happy they seem or how open you think they are being with you. You never know how someone is really feeling, or the pressures someone is under until often it is too late. For whatever reason they may feel as though they cannot talk to anyone, perhaps in fear of being judged or perhaps simply because they don’t know who they can turn to.

The frustrating thing is, there is always someone to turn to. I am addressing the following directly to anyone reading who feels as though they may be depressed, or even those who are considering suicide. I beg you, please talk to someone.

Even if you think that there is no one that cares or nobody you can turn to there are so many services out there either within the university or nationally. If the only thing that is stopping you is what people will think then I’m telling you right now, “people” would much rather you be alive then dead, and what shame is there in doing something that means you stay alive?

So give the trained student volunteers at Nightline a call at 0131 554 7777 or give the Samaritans a call on 116 123. The Samaritans provide confidential, non-judgemental emotional support 24 hours a day for everyone. Think about it this way, if you don’t call they will just be sat there twiddling their thumbs with nothing to do, so you might as well.

To those reading who the previous statements didn’t apply, you can still help those around you because if the unfortunate circumstance does arise that someone you care about commits suicide, not a single day will go by without you thinking to yourself that there could’ve been something you could have done to stop it.

The thing is, there is something you can do. Talk to your friends – if you notice that one of your friends has been feeling down the past week, talk to them. If you notice that your friend’s behaviour has changed, whether that be they’re drinking more than normal or being quieter than normal, talk to them. It’s the free, painless and easy thing you can do and it really can make a difference. The simple phrase “I’m here for you” can mean the world to someone.

I promise you, you will regret it if you don’t. You never think these things will happen until it’s too late, so why not do something to stop it from ever happening in the first place.

Nightline (http://ednightline.com/) : 0131 554 7777

Samaritans (www.samaritans.org): 116 123

Conscious Edinburgh will be holding a charity ball for mental health in the Autumn – see more info here