I couldn’t not acknowledge the death of Caroline Flack in a blog post. I didn’t even know who she was, what the whole scandal was about her, I knew nothing, zilch. To be honest I’m not even really one to follow the lives of celebs so you’ll be glad not to have me on your pub quiz team. So why am I writing about her? Well because it’s awoken all sorts of thoughts and feelings in me, it’s brought to the surface a lot of things I feel and want to say, that I want to get off my chest.

Firstly, I pleased at people’s reactions, there’s posts, petitions and all sorts where people are saying how wrong it is for her to have been hounded by the press. I think it’s great that people are standing up for what is right. However, (there’s always a but) as long as we as the public gossip and enjoying prying into the lives of others, celebs or not, as long as we spread rumours and read papers or share click bait then it’s not going to stop. Ever. Money talks and whilst people read those papers and follow those gossip columns, it will still happen. The fact is people like gossip. As we all know, I’ve been through a lot over the last few years and have been the victim of gossip, rumours and people’s silent opinions, back stabbing judgements and two faced comments. I’ve had lies smear campaigns spread but luckily I’ve been confident, strong and able to hold my head high with integrity, although it wasn’t always easy to when concerned about what people thought. So I empathise with what she may have gone through, how she may have struggled to still carry on about her day to day life whilst been the topic of conversation and people’s judgment. We’re never going to cure the mental health battle in society if we don’t stop being judge and jury over issues and situations that we know nothing about, lack the full facts on and that actually have nothing to do with us. Leave people be and base your judgments on fact rather than hearsay.

As I said, I’m glad people are posting and raising awareness of the issues around the media and intrusions on people’s personal lives but to have impact we need to do more. Actions speak louder than words and we’d do better by educating young people on the dangers of fake news, gossip columns and trashy headlines. We’d be better to teach them about the dangers of rumour spreading and making judgements before knowing all the facts, about taking people on face value and not forming opinions based on the thoughts and feelings of others. We’d do better if we ploughed our efforts into adjusting our own day to day behaviour and modelling what we are posting and petitioning about as well as liking, sharing and commenting. It’s not about not doing what we are, it’s about doing more.

It’s also made me think about social media and I’ll hold my hands up now and say I’m the worlds worst hypocrite when it comes to this. I use social media platforms, I post, I follow, I blog, I share, I write. However, I don’t put too much storage on it. I base my life on real life, my friendships on real, true friendships, human contact, face to face conversations, social interactions in the flesh, I base them on who rings, texts me personally, to see how I am, arrange a coffee, have a chat and actually engage with me on a real life level. We put too much on social media, we focus on it so much that we use it as a measure of our worth, our friendships, happiness and relationships, I’m guilty of it too, I sometimes have to give my head a shake and a reality check and remind myself that we all only use social media to show people what we want them to see, we paint a picture of what life we want people to think we have, not necessarily the one we’re living. If people were more real, if people spoke more we’d do an awful lot better. I do it too, I read too much into social media and have debated for awhile now about closing some of my profiles, leaving them only open for my blog, forcing me and my relationships to be via more human, normal and real lines of communication.

That all said, mental health and suicide prevention are the talk of social media all the time nowadays, whether it’s a chain post to share helplines and let people know you care or positivity themed meme, it’s everywhere with everyone banging the same drum about it being ok to not be ok. People saying it’s good to talk and that we need to support and look out for our friends and to be kind. But yet again it just highlights to me that it’s not enough. As someone that has been some very difficult times and sought support in various different ways, I’m very aware that it’s not easy to get high quality care for mental health, there’s endless waiting lists, lack of funding and budgets limits to appointments and allocations unless you are able to pay through the nose, limiting the amount of people that can access counselling and therapy to help them. It’s sad that we’ve both celebrities and your average Joe taking their own lives, really sad and it just highlights that as a first world country we should be putting more focus on support, more than a meme share or a post like. So next time you see someone fundraising for MIND (my friend’s doing a skydive, I’m sure she’ll share her just giving link so go on give her a sponsor) or for NSPCC the Samaritans, women’s aid or whatever, make a donation, give that a share and help make the real big changes.

Most of all though, let’s educate ourselves and our children on being truly kind. On how words do hurt, despite the popular rhyme, that they do wound and leave a metaphorical scar. That not treating some fairly, with respect is unkind, hurtful and damaging. Teach ourselves and model to our youth that a simple look, silent whisper to the person next to us, raised eyebrow and silly idle gossip or bitchy comment can have bigger knock on ramifications to a person’s self confidence and worth. Teach that we are all human and make mistakes or bad choices but that changed behaviour and remorse demonstrates a true apology and shows honesty and integrity. Teach that we can do things with dignity and pride and with the best of intentions and that we may not always get things right but that we can always try to make things right.

I didn’t know Caroline Flack, I don’t know the truth about her life, but I didn’t and don’t need to. What I do know is that she felt so bad about herself and her life that she felt the need to take it and that no matter who you are or what you have done, no one deserves to feel that way. No one deserves to be made to feel as though their only option is to end things. Be kind, always but truly believe and know what being kind is and do it for yourself and everyone else around you.

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