Today, 10 September 2020, it’s World Suicide Prevention Day. Sadly, we find ourselves publishing a post to mark the tragic passing of a member of our own community. These words are from IP Out committee member Conor Wilman. You may find them distressing; if so, please refer to the sources of support he mentions, as well as those at the end of the post.
I was saddened to hear of the loss of Oliver Beswetherick, a fellow trainee patent attorney, who took his own life last Friday. It always hurts to learn of people who have died by suicide, particularly when those people are in my own age group, and even more particularly when they are in the LGBTQ+ community, as I feel a sort of kinship with them.
Today is World Suicide Prevention Day.
One of the greater challenges to tackling suicide, and the causes of it, is the social stigma of the subject itself. Fortunately, in the UK, this stigma has been reduced somewhat in recent decades, so there is much less shame associated with taking one’s own life than there used to be. But that doesn’t make actually talking about suicide any easier. It certainly isn’t easy for people whose thoughts regularly turn to taking their own life to open up about their feelings to others.
Lockdown hasn’t helped; though suicide rates have not appeared to have increased, there is evidence suggesting that the numbers of people at least considering self-harm or suicide have increased in the past six months. Forced isolation from our friends and families has hurt us all, and will undoubtedly have hit those who have poor mental health that much harder.
There is a lot I could talk about here, from the higher rates of self-harm and suicide in the LGBTQ+ community compared to the general population, to my own experiences with suicidal ideation and finding poor mental health to be common among many of my peers. But I won’t, because that is not the point of this post. The point of this post is to signpost to useful resources and to remind readers that one of the best ways you can combat poor mental health is to reach out to a trusted friend and to talk to them. And if you know someone you perhaps haven’t heard from in some time, reach out to them and see how they’re getting on. It may not seem like much, but it might mean the world to them.
Some resources to help:
- Jonathan’s Voice was set up by the father of Jonathan McCartney, a patent attorney who took his own life. The charity has worked with IP Inclusive to help educate about mental health issues within the IP profession.
- Mind runs a helpline for providing information and support and for directing to local services which can help.
- The NHS also lists a number of other helplines that can be contacted for support and advice.
- To learn more about problematic language when talking about suicide, Canada’s public health body has a useful guide.
You don’t have to struggle alone.
Other sources of help
Conor’s right: you don’t have to struggle alone. If you’re unhappy, and in particular if you’ve got as far as contemplating self-harm, please make use of the LawCare helpline (0800 279 6888) or webchat service, or call Samaritans on 116 123. And remember you will always have friends in the IP Inclusive communities, including of course IP Out.
Page published on 10th September 2020
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Thank you for this article Conor. Olly was a talented trainee with boundless enthusiasm for his subject. He was also a genuinely lovely young man whom it was a pleasure to know. He is sorely missed by all his colleagues.