In a heartbreaking and historic interview, Meghan Markle and her husband Prince Harry sat down with Oprah to discuss why they left the royal family, the falsehoods the crown allegedly continues to perpetuate against them, and the racist treatment Markle and her son, Archie, faced at the hands of the monarchy. The interview itself revealed shocking information — but one of the most surprising revelations was that the Duchess of Sussex had been silently suffering with suicidal ideation, and was turned away when she reached out for help.
"I was really ashamed to say it at the time, and ashamed to have to admit it to Harry especially because I know how much loss he suffered," Markle told Oprah. "But I knew that if I didn't say it I would do it, and I just didn't want to be alive anymore. And that was a very clear and real and frightening constant thought."
Markle described her reasons for speaking out about her experience, saying, "I share this because there’s so many people who are afraid to voice that they need help. And I know personally how hard it is to not just voice it, but when you voice it to be told no. And so I went to human resources. And I said ‘I need help,’ because at my old job there was a union and they would protect me." But Markle alleged that the HR team said they couldn't protect her, because she wasn't "a paid employee."
Markle speaking her struggles aloud deeply touched a number of viewers, especially those who have experienced suicidal ideation themselves. Some are even saying that her words and her bravery in coming forward will end up saving lives.
Woke up this morning imagining unknown others finally saying to a friend or loved one, “I, too, think of suicide.” For that alone, I am grateful for Meghan Markle. Her courage will save lives.— Connie Schultz (@ConnieSchultz) March 8, 2021
But, unfortunately, online trolls have come out to voice their own opinion regarding Markle's mental health. Megyn Kelly argued that Markle was "spinning a tale about how lonely she was in the castle" on Good Morning Britain. Piers Morgan, who has allegedly tweeted about Markle 57 times this week alone, also appeared on GMB on Monday morning to say that he didn't "believe a word she said," and wrote a column in the Daily Mail insinuating that the she was lying and that her privilege protected her from suicidal ideation and depression. A former political aide called Markle's interview, "an appalling exercise in deception, delusion and vanity, with a web of lies and outrageous claims made against the British Royal Family."
Statements like these are damaging to anyone who deals with their own mental health issues. People with suicidal ideation often delay seeking treatment because they feel their problems aren't “serious enough to warrant professional help,” according to a study from the University of Michigan. Seeing public figures question and belittle a person who speaks out about facing these issues and trying to seek help can reinforce an already pervasive and damaging stigma. "Meghan Markle won’t see your comments saying you don’t believe her about her mental health struggles and that she was suicidal, but other people who are currently dealing with mental health issues will and your ignorant comments aren’t helping them," tweeted Scott Summers.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, and has increased by 33% from 1999 to 2019. In Canada, approximately 11 people die by suicide every day. In order to continue to combat the issue, we must have open discussions about mental health and talk about how those who are dealing with depression and suicidal ideation can move forward in getting help. We must voice our support for those who are struggling. Markle did that during her conversation with Oprah on Sunday night, and we hope her message proves to be louder and more enduring than some of the criticisms she's facing today.
If you are thinking about suicide, please call Crisis Services Canada at 1-833-456-4566 at any time or text 45645 between 4 p.m. and 12 a.m. ET. Residents of Quebec, please call 1-866-277-3553.