Some will criticize her because they mistakenly believe fame and fortune prevents suffering, but I hope instead they hear her story and say, “If someone in her position needed mental health treatment, surely someone like me is justified in seeking it too.” https://t.co/mNh4M5YrVa
— Jason Kander (@JasonKander) March 8, 2021
In a bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey last night, Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, revealed that she had been suicidal during her time at the royal palace.
With these words, she echoed the possibility of history repeating itself in the Windsor family once again.
Meghan Markle’s husband, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, who also appeared in the interview with Oprah said that his biggest fear was, “history repeating itself” referring to the treatment and untimely passing of his beloved mother, Princess Diana.
In the past, Prince Harry has been candid about his own brushes with mental health issues as well. In a 2017 interview with The Telegraph, he said, “I have probably been very close to a complete breakdown on numerous occasions.” This coming as a result of having had repressed his emotions for decades after the loss of his mother (who was also a mental health trailblazer in her own right having openly discussed her struggles with bulimia and self-injury).
Since then he has continued his advocacy work to reduce the stigma of asking for and receiving mental health treatment; focusing on armed forces personnel dealing with PTSD and depression through his work with The Invictus Games Foundation.
But, on this occasion, it was the Duchess of Sussex who highlighted a rising mental health crisis: suicide. Meghan told Oprah, “I just didn’t want to be alive anymore.” She said, “And that was a very clear and real and frightening constant thought.”
In an attempt to receive help, Meghan said she had asked a senior royal about the possibility of seeking inpatient care. She was told that would not be possible because it “wouldn’t be good for the institution.” Meghan had taken the difficult first step of reaching out for help and was told, no.
But, she didn’t stop there.
While, unlike the Duke and Duchess, the average person may not have to worry about the global ripple effects of public personal disclosure, most of us do have societal expectations and peer pressures placed upon us that are outside of our control. These can make talking about mental illness difficult. We may even live in a community that actively thwarts our attempts to do so.
How can you receive treatment for something that’s not allowed to be named?
Not everyone knows how to or is even willing to support someone with mental health issues. Do not take that as a sign that you are not deserving of support; it is simply a reflection of their limitations—not yours.
The single most important implication regarding suicide came when Meghan said, “I was ashamed to say it at the time and ashamed to have to admit it to Harry. But I knew that if I didn’t say it—then I would do it,” she said. “I just didn’t want to be alive anymore.” In these instances, shame and silence can be a deadly impediment for a person dealing with a health crisis.
There’s no shame in being suicidal, just like there’s no shame in having multiple sclerosis, ALS, or any other serious health issue. Please speak out. Keep knocking on doors until one opens; there are decades-long science-backed treatments available.
The lesson here is clear: keep asking for help until you receive it.