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Image / Editorial

This poem about mental health aims to challenge our stigma about suicide


By Erin Lindsay
10th Sep 2019
This poem about mental health aims to challenge our stigma about suicide
For World Suicide Prevention Day, mental health activist Doug Leddin is challenging us to break the stigma around mental health and talk about what’s on our minds

“Drowning our sorrows will never work because they know how to swim”. A powerful line from an even more powerful video, that landed in the inboxes of IMAGE editors this morning. Mental health activist Doug Leddin, along with Kevin Piggot and Ger Walsh, has made a video to accompany a poem by Leddin, where he addresses Ireland’s stigma around mental health head-on and makes an effort to convince the listener to be more open with where their head is at.
“I find it incredible that in today’s world, suicide still remains a subject we are scared to discuss and deal with”, Leddin said. “We have fewer and fewer services per person struggling then ever before and I feel if political parties won’t help, for whatever reason, then the best thing anyone can do is to encourage others to open up”.
“As children, we’re told big boys don’t cry, man up and it’s no wonder men are the largest demographic when it comes to suicide,” he went on. “I want to encourage all suffers, men or women, to keep your head held high. You can cry and most importantly, you can talk and we will listen.”

Hope by Doug Leddin & Kevin Piggot

 It’s okay not be okay, as they always say,
Contrary to what our culture has sown,
you, my friend, are simply not alone.
If we want to fight, we need to learn how to walk
The truth is we need to start to learn how to talk
Find your mechanism to cope and soon you will discover hope
The gym, a run, even a walk, a cup of tea and a simple talk
These are just some of the remedies that helped me
Every day, I take a tablet to help me see clear,
It lifts a weight off my shoulder and eases my fear.
This social stigma needs to stop sticking
as our brains hyperventilate and go into overthinking
and fear — what is happening? Is it close and how near?
Our world is changing for better or for worse
we won’t know until something truly becomes a curse
forget all your followers and all your likes
and lean into that numbing fear,
even if it causes you to share a tear
Because big boys do cry
What we were once told? Well, that was all a lie
Don’t be worried about everything and nothing and to the not knowing
Always thinking “is today the day that you’re going to die?”
It’s a chapter in a book and the book doesn’t end
It just has to take a few twists, turns and bends
Open up and talk
That’s what was best for me — it was my ecstasy.
And I know I am not alone.
Turn to your friend, a parent a teacher or pick up that phone
Depression isn’t a cause of last night’s session
We need to stop using the word to form a connection
Drowning our sorrows will never work because they know how to swim
You need to find your answer within
It does take patience and it does take time
but when it happens you will be surprised how quickly you will be fine
But fine isn’t the end and we need to hit great
And trust me though this does have to wait
But all your reasons for the panic right now are well and truly valid
and this my friend is only my ballad
It’s easy for me to say what to do
when I’ve found happiness, love and rarely feel blue
Remember for you, with lows comes highs,
laughs do follow cries
emotions, they flow
always come and will always go,
Sometimes fast and, fuck me, sometimes slow
Everyone is fighting a battle we know nothing about
Don’t stay silent please just shout
We can all get upset angry or sad
But you are still alive and for that we are glad…..
Today there is hope
and with that you will learn how to cope.
Lean on a friend a family member or even a stranger.
Open up and don’t live in danger

If you, or if someone you know, has been affected by any issues raised, help and advice can be found at:

Samaritans: freephone 116123 or text 087 260 9090

Pieta House: freephone 1800 247 247 or text HELP to 51444

Aware: freephone 1800 804 848


Read more: An Irish mother opens up about her daughter’s attempted suicide

Read more: Why we’re still getting it all wrong when we talk about suicide

Read more: The dos and don’ts of supporting someone who might be suicidal