What’s really behind a smile?

We’re less than two weeks into 2020 and already there have been so many truly heart-breaking tragedies in Northern Ireland.

For one reason or another, some beautiful souls believe the only way out for them is by not being in this world anymore. If only they knew…

What can we do to make people see there is light at the end of the tunnel, that things can get better? How can we show them that they are loved beyond belief? That when they send a text message, a huge smile appears on the recipient’s face? Or the excitement of when they walk into a room and the whole room lights up?

It seems like we are talking so much more about mental health but yet, the number of people taking their own precious lives is still increasing. Each one a loss too many.

But should we talk more? What happens though if talking isn’t enough?

Maybe we should listen more?

Listen to people and actually hear what they are saying instead of listening until it’s our turn to talk. Is there pain in what they are saying? Is it a silent call for help that we could somehow miss with absent thoughts? We need to listen to people, not only their voice, but their body language too.

We meet so many people on a daily basis – most, and I don’t feel I’m alone in saying this, we don’t acknowledge. Some, we may pass by with a smile which on occasion is returned.

But what’s really behind their smile?

For some people, that smile may simply be an acknowledgement. For others, it may be the only smile they’ve shared that day. It may be a flicker of hope.

A simple ‘Hello, how are you?’ or “I like your shoes, where did you buy them?” could help. It could lead to a longer, more in-depth conversation and the ancient proverb does say, “A problem shared is a problem halved.”

Don’t get me wrong, I am guilty of being that person who on occasion, is too consumed with what’s going on in my own life, to check in with friends and family to see if they are OK. This is something I’m going to work on improving throughout 2020.

We can’t continue losing precious lives that have so much potential, something more needs to be done.

With this week’s news that a devolved government has been restored in Northern Ireland and plans for a Mental Health Action Plan to be published in two months, with a Mental Health Strategy by December 2020, we hope that more people suffering from Mental Health issues can be helped leading to a decrease in the number of suicides in NI.

One thing I do want to say though and if you read only one paragraph of this blog, let it be this one… Regardless of who or where you are, if you feel like things are too much and you’re struggling, drop me a line. I may not know the right things to say but I will be there, and I will listen.

“Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life. Tiptoe if you must but take a step.” – Naeem Callaway


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