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Doubting Meghan Markle's 'suicidal thoughts' is damaging to people with mental health issues, says charity Aware NI

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TV interview: A viewer watches Meghan Markle on Monday night

TV interview: A viewer watches Meghan Markle on Monday night

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TV interview: A viewer watches Meghan Markle on Monday night

The social media commentary dismissing Meghan Markle's revelation that she experienced suicidal thoughts while pregnant reinforces the stigma around mental health issues, a charity chief has warned.

In her bombshell interview with US chat show host Oprah Winfrey, the Duchess of Sussex revealed that she contemplated taking her own life while pregnant with son Archie.

Appearing vulnerable, the duchess revealed that working for The Firm - as the royal family is sometimes known - ultimately left her feeling that ending her life was an option, and how she had not been protected by the monarchy.

Asked explicitly by Winfrey if she was thinking of self-harm and having suicidal thoughts at some stage, Meghan replied: "Yes. This was very, very clear.

"Very clear and very scary. I didn't know who to turn to in that."

The candid admission has prompted a huge debate globally online, with social media users divided over Meghan's story, and with some commentators clearly not prepared to believe her claims.

Karen Collins, chief executive of Aware NI, told the Belfast Telegraph the commentary casting doubt over Meghan's account of mental health difficulties is "unhelpful" to others suffering the same concerns.

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"It's really unhelpful. It is damaging for anyone that reads that," she added.

"It increases the stigma surrounding mental health, which is very damaging.

"We're working very hard to say to people that it's okay to not be okay, it's all right to say if you're struggling with your mental health.

"In fact that it's more than okay, it's really important that you speak to somebody."

Karen stressed that whenever a high-profile public figure, or celebrity, publicly discusses having mental health issues, it results in others seeking help from charities like Aware NI.

She said that she expected the same to happen in the wake of Meghan's own story.

She noted that a lot of the criticism directed at Meghan was focused on questions such as: "What has she got to be depressed or suicidal about? She's living in the lap of luxury."

"But no matter what the outward appearance is, internally it can be very, very different. And the same follows whether you're a celebrity or not, or perceived to have a great job, or a perfect family."

Karen added: "Nobody knows what's going on behind closed doors and what inner turmoil and feelings might be going on."

The charity chief called for "more humanity" to be shown in online discussion of the Duchess's own admission, including her alleged difficulty in accessing help from the Palace.

"We don't want anyone else going through what Meghan went through," she added.

The Samaritans free helpline is 116 123 or Lifeline can be contacted via 0808 808 800

Belfast Telegraph


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