This blog post was written by PAPYRUS volunteer, Chay, to discuss her journey to become a volunteer with the charity. To find out more about becoming a volunteer at PAPYRUS, visit the link at the end of this blog.
It’s been almost four years since the loss of one of my best friends to suicide and whilst there are so many things I could write about her, how kind she was, how patient, how understanding, none of these sentiments would do her character justice. She was just a one-of-a-kind, truly genuine, gem of a human being, whom I will forever be missing.
Everything about my friend’s death left me feeling utterly useless and helpless. Helpless because her death came straight out of the left field. Helpless because when I got the news I was on holiday in Cuba, cut off from Wi-Fi and the ability to contact her family with words of comfort. Helpless because I felt completely blindsided by her death, I kept questioning myself as to why I didn’t see the warning signs, or that I hadn’t been paying enough attention to how much she was struggling. Helpless because her death feels somewhat haunting and unsettling in a way that I don’t think I will ever fully come to terms with. Helpless because I can never read about mental illness or suicide in the same detached way I did before she died.
I know most of the above are somewhat selfish thoughts, and that her death isn’t about me, but I can’t help but feel powerless to the fact that I wasn’t able to help her in life or save her. But what I’ve realised now is that I am able to choose how I respond to her death, and giving back to PAPYRUS in this small way makes me feel like I have some control in an ultimately unpredictable and uncontrollable world.
I’ve had my fair share of traumas and generally I try to think that everything happens for a reason, even if that reason isn’t immediately clear. However, my friend’s suicide truly tested my belief in this. This is also partly why I decided to volunteer with PAPYRUS, so that something positive could arise from her death.
Since volunteering with PAPYRUS, I have contributed to raising awareness in various ways. In September 2021, I raised £151 for the charity by taking part in the 50km Thames Challenge which involved walking over 11 hours across London. I also completed the ASIST Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training in November 2022, which means I am qualified to give suicide first aid interventions (though a part of me hopes I won’t ever have to use it!). I also share posts for PAPYRUS and try to raise awareness for suicide prevention on my social media and have also written a small blog piece on my experience of grief and suicide which you can read here: https://www.papyrus-uk.org/reflections-on-grief-and-mental-health/
Cliched as it is, I am not the same person I was before she died, but nor’ would I wish to be. Her death has taught me so much about mental ill health and suicide prevention and I now I honestly feel like part of my life purpose is to help others who might be struggling with their mental health or thoughts of suicide.
If you’re interested in volunteering for PAPYRUS, you can find out about our volunteering opportunities by clicking here – we look forward to hearing from you.