Substance abuse is currently a common problem in the UK, with so many people turning to drugs and alcohol for various reasons. This might be due to peer pressure, out of boredom, or even to block out painful memories; the reality, though, is that substance abuse is never the answer. Sadly, many individuals fail to realise that there are other ways to deal with these feelings, including something as simple as speaking to someone about them. One man who learned this the hard way is Michael Sloan, who was just minutes from taking his life when a stranger stopped and spoke to him.
Lost Everything to Drugs
Thirty-six-year-old father-of-two Michael had lost everything to drugs; his family, friends and even his job. He felt as though the only way out was by taking his life; but as he stood on a bridge overlooking the M2 and prepared to take the final plunge, he heard the voice of police negotiator Peter, who Michael says was his guardian angel. The officer spoke to Michael about his life in general and reasoned with him about how his loved ones would be utterly devastated if he was no longer there. The officer saved Michaels life, and at that moment, Michael knew that he had to do the same for others.
When You Hit Rock Bottom Because of Addiction
Michael said, Everything has to happen for a reason; it has to. If it didnt then why not commit suicide? Why not just end it? At one stage of my life I got hooked on cocaine, and I lost everything; my job, family, the lot. Everybody walked out after I threw their kindness back in their faces. That truly is rock bottom. When you have nobody. Your friends are gone, family gone… you cant see your own children. People were afraid of what I had become. There was no way out. Im ashamed to say it, but I thought would it not be better to be an absent father than a bad one? Its a strange feeling when you make the choice to end it. I was thinking the pain will end. You just think about the pain and emptiness you feel. You want that to stop and to go away. That was the only way I could see for it to stop.
Michael recalls making his way to the bridge above the busy motorway and having his mind set on ending his life. However, just moments before plunging to his death, he heard a voice; this was the voice of the police officer who ultimately would go on to save Michaels life. It was a guy called Peter, the police negotiator. At the time, he was saying silly things to make me think, practical things. He was saying, Your two sons, who is going to be at the school?. It was things I wasnt thinking about. If one of the boys was out in the street on their bike and scuffed a knee, who would he go to for support and protection? That hit home and made me realise what I was doing, what I thought was right, was wrong.
Sexual Abuse Victim
Michael was a victim of sexual abuse as a child, and he turned to cocaine to block out the painful memories; this resulted in him losing his full-time job, his family and his relationship with his partner and children. However, back in 2013, he founded a charity that helps those in the same situation as he was in the Families Against Sexual Abuse and Trauma (FAST) charity. It has helped over 3,000 people since its opening.
He began supporting other survivors by sharing his experiences, but he explained that often his pleas for help were ignored. When you feel low and you feel down, you need help at that time, but you have to go through so much red tape. Its hard for someone with mental health issues to speak to somebody without boxes being ticked first. Thats what made me think theres an opportunity to maybe change things and to promote mental health. Theres nothing as therapeutic as somebody sitting with a cup of tea or coffee and asking you how you are doing. I know that sounds cheesy, but it is like a breath of fresh air. People are very held back about speaking about drugs. It is a taboo, especially for men. After my last suicide attempt, I was home from hospital within two hours. That cant be right. Its not the failings; its the lack of support and after-care.
Actions Speak Louder Than Words
Michael then went on to say, It all comes down to money. I think its about time our politicians took a stand. Standing at Stormont talking about intentions doesnt cut it. Actions speak louder than words, and its time for actions. Please, just speak to a family member, a friend, or even a stranger. An open ear, a shoulder to cry on… can make all the difference. At my lowest, I would have given the world for somebody to just tap in on the shoulder and just say, Im here, lets work through this. Mental health is not prejudiced, it affects everyone, its not just the person with mental health issues, its everybody around them. Suicide isnt the easy way out. It takes courage to make that move, but it takes more courage to step back from the edge and face down your demons.
Support for Substance Abuse
If you are a victim of substance abuse and are struggling to overcome your addiction, speak to us here at UK Rehab. We have access to a plethora of treatment providers and clinics around the UK where many people have already been helped to overcome their illnesses.
Our staff welcoming and friendly counsellors will go out of their way to ensure that you feel comfortable and safe. If you have any further queries, contact us today, and we would be more than happy to assist you.
Source: ‘Man on the M2 bridge’ bravely speaks out one week on to beg others to seek help (Belfast Live)