Depression should not be a taboo
The first time I tried to kill myself I just wanted the pain to end.
My life until that point had been one disappointment after another, from troubled teenage years and a difficult relationship with my parents, to a lonely school life that descended into an ever-increasing lonely young life.
I wasn't successful.
So I tried again.
And then I tried again.
Looking back now, I hardly recognise myself.
Today I have a good support network, a good job and a great relationship with my Alliance Party colleagues.
The days of crushed-up pills are a distant memory. I was one of the lucky ones.
However, not everyone is so lucky.
My name is David Armitage and I suffer from depression.
I can say that out loud. Many others cannot.
Today depression remains a taboo subject, with many worried to talk about it in public. This cannot continue.
If we are to address those currently living in turmoil we must have the conversation in public.
That is why I am telling my personal story, to showcase that, in spite of living daily with a medical condition, things can get better.
Throughout my journey faith has been very important to me. Without this aspect in my life I doubt I would still be alive.
Across Belfast there are a number of groups working to address the issues surrounding suicide.
But, together, we can unite to establish a more strategic approach on the issue, with the aim that no one will die through suicide because of the excellent work of suicide awareness groups, public knowledge of prevention and an increase in the quality of life in Belfast.
I have come a long way in the last seven years since I took the decision I wanted to die.
Now I recognise and enjoy the benefits of life. I want to help others in a similar situation and am determined to do so.
Today is World Suicide Prevention Day, but rather than seeing it as an annual event, we first need to recognise that, for many, this continues to be a daily battle.
- David Armitage is an Alliance member of Belfast City Council. If you are affected by any of the issues in this article, contact Samaritans on 084 5790 9090, or Lifeline 080 8808 8000