I have been stunned and saddened by Caroline Flack’s suicide. She follows in the steps of many troubled stars who have found that the difficulties of being in the limelight outweigh the benefits. I find it desperately sad that in 2020 when so much progress has been made around tolerance and acceptance of each other, people are still so quick to judge and to hate.
We can be quick to condemn ‘bad behaviour’ and to assume that this is symptomatic of a bad person, but it is usually a result of multiple stressors which together become too much to cope with. Overwhelm affects people in different ways – some become verbally aggressive snapping at everyone, some physically aggressive, some are more gregarious, some withdraw, some burst into tears at the drop of a hat.
We have to be more responsible for each other. Rather than pointing the finger and punishing people we need to first to seek to understand what’s going on for them. If someone is rude and snappy at work, we must try not to take it personally but find an opportunity to talk quietly to them and try to find out what they are dealing with. We need to help people see the options open to them, not to close them down. I have recently undertaken training to be a Mental Health First Aider and would encourage anyone and everyone to do this course. It helps you become aware of the signs and symptoms of poor mental health and gives you the skills and confidence to be able to facilitate a chat with someone or even just signpost where people can get help.
But there are many reasons why people won’t open up at work – fear of rejection, fear of being punished, being passed over for promotion, fear of losing their professional image or even their job. It can also be hard to talk to the people closest to us. Having someone impartial like an external coach to talk to when things are starting to get on top of us can prevent a negative spiral of events. It can help us to take back a tiny bit of control and to take baby steps to a better place.
I can’t begin to imagine how horrific it would be to see every mistake magnified x100 in the press. Caroline must have felt she had run out of options. I really hope that Laura Whitmore’s plea for change #BeKind will take off in a big way so that something good can be salvaged from her untimely death.