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Dennis’ story

Dennis didn’t realise how bad he felt until he started feeling better. He now encourages people to reach out and works to end the stigma.

“I’m under 50, I’m male, I’m gay, I have type 1 diabetes and I was previously bullied in the workplace,” says Dennis, a survivor of multiple suicide attempts.

The Australian-born Salford resident said he has since built a support structure around him – and is now able to live with and manage his mental health.

Dennis is shining a light on suicide attempt survivors.

“I know what it’s like to start to question yourself, your self-confidence, your self-worth,” said Dennis. “When it all slips, it’s very difficult to bounce back from.

“For me, it got to the point where I was exhausted, my mind wouldn’t stop, my body was physically incapable, and I felt that ‘weight of the world’ pushing down on my shoulders.

“I didn’t realise how bad my situation was until I was getting better. I had been consumed by the white noise of my thought processes but vividly remember one day hearing song lyrics while travelling in my friend’s car. That was a big moment as I knew I had a turned a little corner. I had done that by building a network of people around me who I knew I could share my thoughts and problems with.”

“When you let someone in, that’s when you find that changes can occur,” said Dennis. “Whether that’s your loved ones, or your support network, changes will happen.”

“Noticing and observing other people and any changes in their behaviour is also important. I firmly believe we can start conversing with people you might be concerned about, by asking them if they are ok.

“If we’re concerned about someone we need to ask how they are feeling and ask again, as they may just say ‘fine’ the first time they are asked as so many of us do. It’s about not giving up on them and trying to support them so they can then get the support they need.”

Dennis believes society needs to look at the people who have lived through suicide attempts and listen to what they have to say.

As a Campaign Lead at START – a Salford-based charity using art and creative activities to help people recover from mental ill health – Dennis is heading the Reach Out; Start to End Suicide campaign which aims to raise awareness of suicide and the important role communities can play in helping to prevent it.

“When we as people need help and support, we’re reluctant to reach out through fear of judgement,” he said.

“We also don’t like and are actually in fear of reaching out to other people to give them support – which again, is stigma in its own right.

“We need to be proactive about it – if you notice in someone you know fairly well that their behaviour or their way of looking at things has changed and you don’t think this is necessarily a positive thing, then that’s the point when we should be starting conversations.

“This opens a gate for people and helps them to take those first steps in getting the help that they need.

“The better we get at talking about suicide, the better it’s going to be for people in general.”

The ‘Shining A Light On Suicide’ campaign has been commissioned by Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership to take the sensitive subject of suicide out of the dark and encourage everyone to talk about it in an honest, open and direct way, so no one sees suicide as a solution to their problems.

Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 49, women aged between 20 and 34 and is the leading cause of death in people aged 15 to 29.

Statistics show that many men in particular who have died by suicide did not ask for help or speak to someone before they took their life.

The #shiningalightonsuicide campaign encourages people to talk about suicide in an honest and open way so no one feels it is a solution to their problems.

Together we can help prevent suicide. Suicide affects us all. Encourage someone to talk before suicide seems their only option.

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