NEWARK – Most of you will remember when Meghan Markle and Harry, Duke of Sussex shared personal information about their lives as senior royals in an interview with Oprah Winfrey. They maintained respect for The Crown in telling their experiences, sharing their story in a passive voice and not naming anyone in a derogatory manner.
The thing that bubbled to the top for me was Meghan’s description of her deteriorating mental well being while in England and the total lack of resources available to her.
Coming from the mental health world, I’m appalled that getting mental health care was impossible from inside the royal family even when Meghan disclosed having suicidal thoughts. Since going public with Oprah, her experience has been minimized and even denied by some reporters and others close to the royal family.
Those of us who work in suicide prevention know better than to take it lightly when someone says they are suicidal – it’s never a joking matter. I’m so glad Harry listened to Meghan and took care of her when she needed help, though I am disappointed that he expressed embarrassment.
Considering that Harry co-founded Head Together, a mental health campaign, with Prince William and Kate, he ought to have known that it’s ok to not be ok! Shame on the family, the staff, the firm, or whoever it was that told Meghan that others before her went through this and she couldn’t go to a hospital. The outcome could have been very different – we should NEVER minimize someone telling us that they don’t want to be alive anymore!
“We cannot determine which specific factors may have contributed to the decline,” said Dr. Christine Moutier, chief medical officer of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, “but we do know that creating a culture open to talking about mental health and suicide prevention, educating people about what to do when they are in distress, making help available to those who seek it, using treatments that have been developed based on research, supporting those affected by suicide and passing legislation that makes suicide prevention a top national priority are all positive advancements that we’ve seen over the past several years that likely had a collective impact.“Those who are in distress need to be met with resources that will support their mental health including a fully funded, accessible and well-designed national system of crisis services and health care,” Moutier said. “As the nation’s largest private funder of suicide research, we know that concentrated, strategic, culturally competent and evidence-based suicide prevention efforts can save lives.
“Through these efforts, and by all working together, we have the ability to bend the suicide curve down. We do know that thoughts of suicide are more prevalent among the general population now than before COVID-19, and for that reason, we must continue to focus on prevention efforts and supporting those at risk. Suicide can be prevented, and we all have a role to play.”
Printed in the Newark Advocate on April 25, 2021.