In 2015, writer Matt Haig released a book called Reasons to Stay Alive.
Part memoir, part self-help book, Reasons to Stay Alive chronicled Haig’s experience with severe anxiety and depression in his early 20s, and recalled a time when he came close to ending his own life.
Comforting and confronting all at once, Haig’s words laid out for all to see the debilitating realities of his mental health issues, from his struggle to walk to the shops without experiencing a panic attack to his inability to get out of bed.
Since then, Haig’s mental health activism has only gone from strength to strength. Besides the fact that he’s released two more books, Haig has gained a name for himself online for his powerful responses to some of the internet’s most fervid haters and inspiring threads on the realities of living with mental health issues.
But this week, Haig’s tweets have been particularly powerful – for an incredibly important reason. To mark National Suicide Prevention Week and World Suicide Prevention Day on 10 September, Haig took to Twitter to give his followers an insight into his journey from his lowest point to today, documenting how he used to think about suicide compared to now.
“When I was suicidal I remember calling myself a ‘coward’ and ‘chicken’ for not doing it. I wasn’t. I was ridiculously strong to hold on through infinite pain,” the writer tweeted yesterday. “But that’s why toxic masculinity kills. We have it ingrained in us that even death is better than looking weak.
“Your lowest point is never eternal,” he continued. “You do not know what is ahead of you. A brain changes through behaviour and interaction. Neuroplasticity. Life changes us. Your future is one of multifarious possibility. No-one remains the same. Stay around for all the people you will become.”
In 2018, 6,507 people died by suicide across the UK, the highest level for more than 15 years. The rise adds up to an increase of 11.8% from 2017.
With numbers like these continuing to rise, it’s clear that we need to continue confronting suicide head on – with the same openness and vigour with which we are now dealing with mental health conditions such as anxiety. That’s a conversation Matt Haig is leading this World Suicide Prevention Day.
“If like me you once nearly died by suicide, and are happy you didn’t, it would be great to send a pic or message here to give others hope,” Haig asked his followers.
We’ve left some of the incredible responses he received below.
For confidential support call the Samaritans in the UK on 116 123 or visit a local Samaritans branch. In a crisis, call 999.