Stories in Safe Places

I spent much of yesterday with a group of chaplains talking about suicide.

Perhaps not the way many would choose to spend their Wednesday, but it is arguably the most important part of my job.

People, unsurprisingly, don’t like talking about suicide; it’s scary and taboo.

And yet at the centre of every suicide; every attempt and every lost life is a story.

They are stories of pain, shame, grace and brutal bravery.


Yes, because choosing life when everything in you is begging for death is a brutal kind of bravery.

Some do not manage to ever be called brave; their deaths are shrouded in shame and fear.

But behind every suicide, every suicidal thought, every suicide attempt is a bravery that has so often fought for life by the minute before their final curtain fell.

It is not that someone’s suicide should be celebrated, but those living with its’ reality should not be denigrated either.

The stories of lives suicide has ended, interrupted or scarred are hidden in the libraries of our communities under fake smiles and exhaustion.

The darkest stories of our lives can be redeemed – but these stories have to be shared.

They don’t need to be shared on stages or social media, but with trusted people who can hold our stories and allow us to explore them so that we can come to terms with who we are, where we’ve been and what we’ve done.

Ann Voskamp writes that:

“Shame dies when stories are told in safe places.”

What we need to do is create the safe places for stories to be shared.



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