World Suicide Prevention Day is a day to help raise awareness of how we can come together to create a world where less people die from suicide.  This day is extremely important as it raises awareness to a topic which is not spoken about enough.

“In 2018, in the UK and Republic of Ireland, more than 6,800 people died of suicide.”

This shocking statistic brings to light the true extent of how many individuals are struggling, and how many we tragically lose to suicide.  The topic of suicide is a topic which is regarded as taboo, especially within the Muslim community, where we often refrain from discussing difficult topics, further amplifying the problem.  People are struggling silently, unable to find an outlet to where they can express themselves freely, and talk about the issues they face with mental health. 

Many of us may be fortunate to turn to friends and family in times of distress. We may talk through our problems, or seek professional help when needed. However, this is not the reality for everyone.  There are individuals who are unable to turn to anyone when struggling, further isolating them. This makes them feel as though no one cares, and they do not matter.

These individuals do not always have to live across the world, in a world completely different to your own. They live closer than you think, within households on your street, in your borough and within your city.  People contemplate taking their own life due to their struggles, they feel as though they have nowhere else to turn to.

Individuals within HHUGS households struggle from such traumatic experiences, both those within the four walls of their homes, and those within the confines of their prison cells. Those on the outside may struggle with debt, financial hardship and isolation. They lose their circle of close friends and family due to the nature of their experiences. Many face ostracisation from the community, and vilified by the media, they are unable to return to a normal life.

For those in prison it can be a dramatically more horrific picture:

“There are mentally ill inmates who bang the doors, shout and scream all night so you’re not able to sleep. I witnessed on average one suicide attempt a week over there – on one occasion, there were actually three suicide attempts in one day that I witnessed. I remember walking part a cell while they were cleaning it out after one such attempt. There was so much blood, it felt like a butcher’s shop.”  (Babar Ahmad, speaking about his experiences in a US prison)

These experiences that many individuals endure have a lasting impact on their psyche and on their lives. It continues to haunt them many years down the line, jeopardising relationships, health, and careers.

“I feel like I was going mad, I was really depressed, I couldn’t sleep, when I slept I would wake up screaming. When I was outside I would think people are watching me or that people were out to kill me. I was scared I was being followed, I thought if there was another terrorist attack then I would be blamed for it and be arrested. I couldn’t sleep because I would be waiting for them to take me.” (Imad, former SIAC detainee, held without trial for over a decade)

That is when they feel as though all is lost, further exacerbating the situation.

“After five years of being held without trial, my ex-husband was released from prison under strict house arrest, because his mental and physical health had deteriorated so much. I found out he had been self-harming and had attempted suicide several times. That’s why they let him go. When they returned him to us, he was in a wheel-chair. He’d changed completely. Even today he’s still in a wheelchair. He can’t walk.” (Celeste, speaking about her former husband, who was held under SIAC and T-Pims for over a decade)

At HHUGS, we aim to support these individuals who are often forgotten and in despair. We do this by offering these individuals a safe space where they can rebuild and seek the help they require. We provide the services they need such as professional and faith sensitive counselling, trauma therapy or an empathetic keyworker to help reduce isolation.

“The only thing that’s stopping me from taking my life is my strong belief in Allah. I literally don’t know what I could have done because there has been so many occasions that I’ve lost hope… I was offered, like, a shoulder to cry on. My keyworker, she was just literally there for me. I messaged her daily with everything I’ve gone through… That’s helped me mentally and physically because I’ve got someone to talk to who knows everything. I don’t need to hide anything. I told HHUGS I’ve got two young kids – I can’t keep travelling out so they organised telephone counselling. That’s helped me massively. Together, it’s somehow allowed me to relieve the pain that I had hidden inside. It’s because of opening up to them that I’ve come to this stage where I can cry about certain things now… Without them, I wouldn’t be living here most likely. I would probably be in a psychiatric ward being sectioned or something by now.” (Maria)

HHUGS also support these families with their financial difficulties to help alleviate their stress and anxiety, and invite them to social events to help increase their interaction with others.

Too many lives have been lost to suicide, too many individuals have been silenced and forgotten unable to turn to anyone.  On World Suicide Prevention Day, will you help us give a voice to HHUGS families who have been silenced?   

“The therapy and the counselling has provided me a safe space to speak to someone without fear of any judgement and speak to someone knowing that it’s safe, secure and private. That is the most fulfilling and most comforting thing to have and to know – that whatever you feel and your struggling with that there’s someone you can sort of lay it on, someone you can offload to who is a professional that understands how the mind works. It has changed my life so much and I am grateful that I have that and Alhamdulillah for having HHUGS providing me with that safety net.”

Remind those who are struggling silently, those grappling with thoughts of ending their lives, that they do matter. That there are people out there who are willing to help.

Help us heal HHUGS families who are isolated and alone.