Neil Whitaker's article in light of #worldsuicidepreventionday2020

Neil Whitaker's article in light of #worldsuicidepreventionday2020
28 Jan 2021

First of all if you’ve never been to Kirkby Lonsdale make sure you go, it’s a cracking little place.

I thought this would be quite a relevant post with World Suicide Day being yesterday. Being a very private person (not even on Facebook) this is a very rare post for me but here goes.

At the end of 2018 I went through an awful divorce and within a matter of a month I had moved out of the house I loved, area I loved, for short time was away from my 2 cocker spaniels and most importantly went from seeing my 1 year old beautiful daughter every day to on some form of limited weekly rota!

No need for any more detail but it’s safe to say 2018 was the hardest year I’d ever experienced. I probably wasn’t aware at the time of how much it impacted me mentally. I am the kind of person who would tell people to man up, just get on with it, during this period I didn’t take a day off work. It’s only until recently that I’ve realised how much it did impact me.

At FOUR we had Chris Reynolds in for psychometric profiling back in 2012 an I was described as what the perfect recruiters profile would look like, I had the same test in 2019 and looking at my profile I was embarrassed and couldn’t accept that was me, with a confident rating in 2012 of 9 to a rating of 1 in 2019 it wasn’t me. I knew that I was confident, competitive and driven and the 2019 test showed none of these traits. The test doesn’t lie Chris said but I didn’t believe him, it had to be a mistake. Looking back now it was 100% accurate, I was a shadow of my true self. What had happened at the end of 2018 had knocked me for six.

The relevance of Devils Bridge is that in March 2019 I went to jump off it. Now this wasn’t a point of me trying to commit suicide, thankfully I hadn’t become that low BUT there was surely a chance of dying, a very high chance of serious injury and definitely a high chance of just being exhilarated. At this point in my life I wasn’t suicidal but I simply didn’t care about anything, at all! Thankfully the closet person to me at the time talked me out of doing it and without this particular person, another good friend of mine and exercise I’m not sure I would be anywhere near back to my normal self. I walked towards the same Bridge last Friday and said ‘I can’t believe I was going to jump off that!’ It made me realise where my head was, at that time in my life.

The fact of the matter is I went from one of the most consistent billers at work over a 6 year period to a fraction of myself over the space of a year. Outwardly I acted like everything was okay but it most definitely wasn’t. It’s so important to be in touch with your staff and invest in tools that can support and identify issues. Just yesterday FOUR had Simon Calderbank come into the business and he gave a fantastic presentation with a huge focus on mind set and resilience. I would recommend it to any business big or small to motivate your staff but to also help them with things they might not have even spoken to you about. Although I feel I’ve come out the other side (writing this post alone is a sign of that) there are still things that I need to improve and Simon’s session identified this. One thing that was very evident not just from me but other male colleagues, was that many men still feel like it’s a sign of weakness to speak out. I am still a 3/10 so here is my first attempt of taking that 3 to a 5, who knows maybe one day I’ll be a 10.


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