I have been brushed with the paintbrush of sadness that comes from the loss of friends and family who have chosen to take their own life on more than one occasion over the years.
My earliest memory was of an Uncle who had fought in Vietnam, I cant remember how he took his life, but I know that it was spoken of in very hushed voices when I was still in primary school, and that my cousin, his daughter, was never the same on the few times we saw her following his passing.
Then there was the casual boyfriend in high school. I remember getting a phone call from a mutual friend asking if he could come and see me, I was studying for my leaving exams and tried to put him off but he kept saying it was important and he had to see me. I remember sitting on my front step in the sun with tears coursing my cheeks staining his shirt. Railing against the unfairness of it all, and wondering why? What had been so bad that he could not talk people who cared about him? What had been so bad that he could take his own life in such a violent way, and leave his family to find his remains? A note had not been left, so we were all left to deal with the questions that would never be answered.
In the mid-90’s the black dog would rear its ugly head again with a man who I considered my best friend. His dependency issues were not yet known to us, he hid his abuse of alcohol and drugs so well that he always seemed so much more fun and happy when wasted, with us not realising that the times he was sober were far less than we assumed. After a few stints in rehab, and then his decision to move back in with his parents we thought everything was better. Then the late night phone calls would start. Late night calls when he would tell me that he had taken an overdose of pills, or hurt himself. Late night calls when I would then have to contact the police and his parents. The last time, he showed up and tried to kick in the front door of my building as I wouldn’t let him in, and I had to make the hardest call ever at the request of his parents and have him arrested. That ones still pains me, but at least by having him arrested and sectioned that night, he is still alive today. I cut contact him with after that, I love him like a dysfunctional little brother still, but I could no longer sit by and watch his pain manifest. I could no longer be the one calling his Mother to say your son is locked in his room, in your house, and has just overdosed on pills.
In the last 2 weeks an old school friend and a more recent acquaintance took their lives. Their social network updates did not let on that anything out of the ordinary was going on. People who spoke with them saw their pain, but thought that they were coping and would get through it eventually like most of us do. But their pain was obviously too great for them to bear. Both of these I found out through social media updates.
A perfect example of how quickly we can all learn of someone taking their life, was the recent passing of Amy Winehouse. Social media networks were reporting her death over an hour before it made main-stream news service desks.
The friends who post that they wish to end their lives on Facebook and Twitter are not the ones we should worry about. We should be worrying about those that stay silent, that act like life is OK when really they are struggling to hold their existence together.
I have always thought that suicide was the ultimate Fuck You World. It is the last statement that nobody can rebut. It is a hanging sentence that leaves you wondering what could have been if things had been different.
If you think that life is so terribly painful that you cannot bear it, please think again. Reach out to a friend, a family member. There are people you can call if you want anonymity. Please let the words out so that they do not poison your spirit as you are loved by many who will mourn you if you are not a part of our lives.
World Suicide Prevention Day is on September 10th, please remember those that we have lost, but also look at those that we can still save.
Websites and Phone Lines:
http://www.lifeline.org.au or 13 11 44
Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 1800 55 1800 end_of_the_skype_highlighting
http://suicide-prevention.org.uk or 0800 83 85 87 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 0800 83 85 87 end_of_the_skype_highlighting