In the past 12 months, 685 New Zealanders committed suicide. That’s almost two people choosing to end their life every day.

I’ve really gone back and forth on whether to write this blog. On the one hand it’s so sensitive and there’s so much risk that I’ll make a mess, but on the other maybe I have something to say that has meaning for someone. Because silence can literally be deadly when it comes to depression and suicidal thoughts, I’ve chosen to speak up.

What I want to talk about is a thought pattern that, until recently, I never knew was considered to be a suicidal thought.

“I don’t want to be here anymore.”

When life gets tough, I start wishing I could run away… that I could just escape from this life and start a new one. I think, “I don’t want to be here anymore,” wherein the “here” is this house, this family, this job etc.

Over the past 25 years, I’ve had this thought on an alarmingly frequent basis. But I never thought anything of it. I’ve also had real suicidal thoughts… the ones where I’ve planned how I’m going to do it and I’ve yearned for the release of death. These are the thoughts I’ve always thought were the really dangerous ones.

The thing about thinking you don’t want to be here anymore, is that it’s just as dangerous… maybe even more so because you probably don’t realise quite how close that is to starting to actually plan your end.

If you’re thinking you don’t want to be here and you’re starting to dream of or even consider leaving, it’s highly likely that your depression and anxiety are throwing up all the reasons that running away won’t work and what massively hard work that will be. From there it’s a very slippery slope to the “easier” option of suicide… that gets you away from this life without all the pesky starting over to deal with.

So what can you do, for yourself or for others?

For yourself, talk about it! When parenting, work, friends, relationships, or whatever it may be, get too hard and start making you want to run away as far and as fast as you can, talk to someone. Either tell them what you’re feeling or ask for their help in easing some of your burden. If you can’t get the words out, link them to this blog or to other articles about this. This is a trick I use with my husband a lot. I send him a link to an article or blog that really encapsulates what I’m feeling at the moment because sometimes it’s too hard to articulate it myself.

To help others, listen. Do you have a friend or family member who is talking about needing a “break” or wanting to “get away”? Maybe they’re joking about putting the kids up for adoption? This talk of wanting to escape their current life and stresses could be the surface or beginning of something deeper and darker. Ask how they’re feeling, if they need help, or if you can provide a few hours respite for them. Check in on them often. If you’re really worried, recruit other people to try and talk to them as well. Help them see what’s beautiful about their life.

This isn’t the solution to the suicide epidemic New Zealand is facing, I don’t know what that solution is. But this is something I’d like people to be aware of… wanting to escape might be an early warning sign for someone. What will you do if that someone is someone you care about?                          

Where to get help

1737, Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor

Lifeline – 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland

Youthline – 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email talk@youthline.co.nz or online chat

Samaritans – 0800 726 666

Suicide Crisis Helpline – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)

What’s Up – 0800 942 8787 (for 5–18 year olds). Phone counselling is available Monday to Friday, midday–11pm and weekends, 3pm–11pm. Online chat is available 7pm–10pm daily.

Kidsline – 0800 54 37 54 (0800 kidsline) for young people up to 18 years of age. Open 24/7.

thelowdown.co.nz – or email team@thelowdown.co.nz or free text 5626

Anxiety New Zealand – 0800 ANXIETY (0800 269 4389)

Rural Support Trust – 0800 787 254 (0800 RURAL HELP)

Supporting Families in Mental Illness – 0800 732 825