I start all of my presentations with what I call a 'Got your attention now' opening line. I once started with "You'd think that I'd be much taller" when there was a long intro into my background and experience. It then became, "Yes, I specialise in suicide intervention, come and see me later if you are feeling unwell". Those two opening always got a laugh, the second more of a nervous giggle.
Today I start these presentations with, "Anxiety, depression and/or suicide (ADS) is in very family in the western world, and it is in yours". No laughs, just silence. And, sometimes a tear.
Then I grab them with, "Let's see what is going on and what we can all do about it, together". That's the key, together.
So is ADS in every family in the western world? Here's a conversation Donna and I had today in a Mall in Vancouver.
We had just arrived after delayed flight and little sleep. Groggy, we couldn't find a table and Donna asked if we could sit next to two young men (teenagers). Of course. During our first meal ever in Canada, one of the two said - "Hey, are you both from Greece", we were eating Greek food. No, we are from NZ. "Wow, you don't look like Kiwis". Compliment accepted.
He then asked to me "What do you do?" "Fix heads" I said. Ha! I said I try to help people who are struggling with negative thoughts, right down into depression and suicide. He said - "Oh you can start right here, we both tried to kill ourselves". His mate followed with "I jumped off a bridge".
Wow, welcome to Canada, eh!
We talked for some more, I was so lucky to have my wife with me to keep me from becoming too emotionally involved. After a chat, I grabbed my phone and asked them if they trusted me, "Of course" they said. (Very trusting these Canadians).
We spent 30 seconds doing the latest breathing technique we have just recently published. Looking at them both was awesome, I asked one, "What are you thinking". His reply "Nothing, there's nothing in my head". Job done. He went on to say that he cannot stop from talking to himself all the time.
What are the chances of two Kiwis flying into Vancouver, sitting in the same Mall, at the same table, and finding the one thing in common, suicide. The chances are high, if it is so common.
I post this, not for the work that we do, but for what we are all going through. ADS is in every family, it is in mine and it is in yours.
We, all of us, have a duty of care. To care for ourselves first so that we can then care for others. This epidemic known as suicide can be stopped, and we will do so, together.
Firstly by opening up the conversation about the causes, next by removing the stigma, thirdly by learning how to adapt to our dynamic world through taking a moment in time to breath for just a few minutes.
By sharing our little story, Donna and I hope that this post has helped in some small way to encourage you to keep moving forward, because that's the direction that we are all heading in, breathing as we do so.