Matt Haig and Professor Kate Williams are among those defending Meghan Markle, following comments from people who don't believe her revelation she had suicidal thoughts during her time as a working royal.
The Duchess of Sussex told Oprah Winfrey that she had “methodical” thoughts about taking her own life.
“You were having suicidal thoughts?” Oprah asked during the two-hour interview, which first aired on US TV on Sunday 7 March.
“Yes. It was very clear and very scary,” Meghan responded. “I just didn’t see a solution.”
She went on to say she was "really ashamed to have to say it at the time" and ashamed to have to admit it to her husband, Prince Harry, particularly as she knew how much loss he had suffered.
“But I knew that if I didn’t say that I would do it... and I just didn’t ― I just didn’t want to be alive anymore. And that was a very clear and real and frightening constant thought.”
The Duchess went on to say that she sought help from "the institution" but claims she wasn't offered the support she needed, so she is speaking up now about her experiences.
“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."
After Markle shared her heartbreaking revelations, social media lit up and while there was much support for the Duchess, there were also some who questioned the validity of her claims.
‘A lot of people will feel extremely concerned about that.’ @Susannareid100 says Meghan’s revelation that she was on the verge of taking her own life is very concerning.@Piersmorgan says he doesn’t believe Meghan. pic.twitter.com/Hzuc2Z1gUQ
— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) March 8, 2021
On Good Morning Britain Piers Morgan queried the Duchess' heartbreaking revelation that she sought help as she considered taking her own life.
"Who did you go to? What did they say to you? I’m sorry, I don’t believe a word she said, Meghan Markle," the breakfast host said. "I wouldn’t believe it if she read me [the] weather report. The fact that she’s fired up this onslaught against our Royal family I think is contemptible."
Co-host Susanna Reid stepped in to defend the Duchess: "Well that’s a pathetic reaction to someone who has expressed those thoughts."
While royal expert Chris Ship also spoke up in response to people questioning the Duchess' claims: "Someone saying they had suicidal thoughts, I don’t think you can say that she was lying at that point. She had these thoughts, pretty serious ones and took them to HR."
Meanwhile, people, including mental health advocates Matt Haig and Bryony Gordon and TV historian Professor Kate Williams. flocked to Twitter to offer their support to the Duchess against those who dispute her revelation.
Those denying Meghan’s suicidal thoughts - it is an absolute disgrace. Such ‘I don’t believe it’ is why people don’t speak out about mental health, why they suffer in silence, feel shame. We need to be better than this.
— Prof Kate Williams 💙 (@KateWilliamsme) March 8, 2021
‘She won’t go quietly, that’s the problem. I’ll fight until the end’. Diana in 1995.
And she was hunted and finally chased to her death. The end came just two years later, in 1997.
Now her daughter-in-law is persecuted all over again, for speaking.
We have learned nothing. pic.twitter.com/u4blrB4Pwb
— Prof Kate Williams 💙 (@KateWilliamsme) March 7, 2021
Just popping by to tell all the people who say that Meghan Markle was lying about being suicidal that you are an absolute disgrace. And you also know nothing at all.
— Matt Haig (@matthaig1) March 8, 2021
Speaking about suicidal feelings to anyone is incredibly brave, let alone to an audience of billions. Meghan’s experience - of asking for help, and then being denied it - breaks my heart. I will always have all the time in the world for these two ❤️
— Bryony Gordon (@bryony_gordon) March 8, 2021
If you accuse a woman who says she felt suicidal of lying, you are VERY MUCH PART OF THE PROBLEM. Good day.
— India Knight (@indiaknight) March 8, 2021
When someone says they’re suicidal we don’t ask them to prove it. When a victim complains to the police about racism there is no initial burden on them to prove it. Those who accuse Meghan & Harry of lying undo all the work of MH charities and at the very least enable racism.
— Adil Ray OBE 💙 (@adilray) March 8, 2021
Watch: Meghan Markle called Queen as soon as she heard Prince Philip was hospitalised.
Others pointed out the wider impact of dismissing someone's claims of being suicidal.
Meghan’s not going to see you tweeting you don’t believe she was suicidal - but your friends who have been suicidal will
— Elena Cresci (@elenacresci) March 8, 2021
To everyone who doesn’t believe Meghan was suicidal
You don’t have any way of proving she wasn’t
Being suicidal manifests in different ways
You are not her
You are not in her brain
If someone says they’re suicidal, don’t judge them, help them- you might save their life
— That Zoe Girl (@that_zoe_girl_) March 8, 2021
What are suicidal thoughts?
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), despite the number of people dying by suicide declining in recent years, one person takes their own life every 40 seconds.
Suicidal feelings, according to the mental health charity, Mind, can mean having abstract thoughts about ending your life or feeling that people would be better off without you.
It can also mean thinking about methods of suicide or making clear plans to take your own life.
"If you are feeling suicidal, you might be scared or confused by these feelings," Mind explains. "You may find the feelings overwhelming. But you are not alone. Many people think about suicide at some point in their lifetime."
Mind says those who are feeling suicidal might feel:
hopeless, like there is no point in living
tearful and overwhelmed by negative thoughts
unbearable pain that you can't imagine ending
useless, not wanted or not needed by others
desperate, as if you have no other choice
like everyone would be better off without you
cut off from your body or physically numb
fascinated by death.
How to help someone who might be having suicidal thoughts
If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts the NHS advises you first talk to someone you trust.
- Calling a GP and asking for an emergency appointment
- Calling 111 out of hours – they will help you find the support and help you
- Contacting your mental health crisis team – if you have one.
See Samaritans' tips on how to start a difficult conversation. Rethink also has advice on how to support someone who is having suicidal thoughts.
For further help and information:
CALM's helpline and webchat are open from 5pm until midnight, 365 days a year. Call CALM on 0800 58 58 58 or chat to their trained helpline staff online, it’s free, anonymous and confidential.
Or for more information about mental health and how to get help visit Mind.