I’m not sure where the Samaritans are getting their Twitter feedback from but it certainly isn’t the same place I’m getting mine from. Their claim that more people are in support of the Radar app than against it isn’t credible. I have had only one person who has tweeted me in support of the app and they abused me which, to my mind, proves that the app shouldn’t exist. They claim that 3,000 people have downloaded and/or activated the app but have not yet attempted to find out or declare how many of those people have subsequently deleted the app after hearing of the fears of those of us who it targets.
The app appears to be aimed at the suicidal which is a big flaw in itself. Most people don’t know the difference between suicidal ideation and a genuine desire to carry through the act of suicide and therefore cannot discern from a few tweets which is which.
Suicidal ideation is how it sounds – ideas and thoughts about suicide but what it is not is an expression of a wish to die. I have carried suicidal ideation with me as an old friend for over 40 years. To me it is a way of keeping an eye on myself, it lets me know when I’m at risk long before my behaviour shows it and gives me an opportunity to take charge of my own health.
I do get suicidal and it comes on very suddenly usually when I’m in an acute and savage manic episode. In those circumstances my first thought isn’t to tweet about it to a list of followers who, though very kind and well meaning, have little experience of dealing with suicidal people. What I do is text two specific people telling them exactly how I feel. I tell them I’m fighting the urge and will retreat to a place of safety. They text me back telling me that if I hold on I’ll get through it and they are always right because we’ve done this many times over the years. One will send me practical instructions based on his experience as a doctor and as my friend, the other listens carefully and encourages me to access my inner resilience. It is precisely what I need at that moment.
Later I will talk to my sister and talk to her. We talk not of suicide, though I make her aware of the episode, but of her, her day and what life is throwing at her. I do this because I need to know that life is going on around me even if I feel as though I’m not a part of it.
If I tweeted about it instead of talking and texting to these wonderful people what would that achieve? I’d scare some people, be ignored by others, get a response from some people and make most people feel inadequate. Do any of you know my phone number or my address? Would I have my phone on anyway or would I switch it off to make it difficult to get to me? Do you know who my family are or how to get in touch with them? Would I welcome an intervention if it happened or would I be furious at your well meaning efforts to stop what I may think of as the big release from a pain you can’t understand?
What if, after a period of lowness and obvious depression, I became chirpy and bright? Would I be recovering or would I actually be feeling brighter and more positive because I’d laid down my plans to kill myself? Would you know?
There is so much background behind our tweets because there is a person behind everyone of them. I tweet about the everyday things that are, for many, things that they take in their stride but for me are the mini mountains I climb every day. When I tweet about mental health I want you to question your perceptions and beliefs but I am not asking for help. Encourage me nicely, don’t patronise me and don’t assume that I’m alone, friendless and sat with the tools of self destruction in front of me.
I feel violated at the thought that some of you have this app and that some of you will have it turned on. If you’ve got it in a well meaning attempt to help then bravo but delete the damned thing please. If you’ve deleted it without activating it then thank you for your realisation that it’s not a good app. If you’ve got the app and it’s activated then get off my timeline because you are violating my privacy, you are destroying boundaries that you don’t seem to be aware that are there and have at best a misplaced desire to do right. If you’ve still got it switched on despite the furore of the last few days then I don’t think I’d want help from you anyway.
Encourage me to reach out, leave my comfort zone, seek recovery but don’t violate my rights and get back away from the boundaries I’ve created to empower myself.