Sunday, 20 January 2013

II) Suicide

The dreaded 'S' word,
People don't like to talk about it, and I know despite the fact this is something I have battled against for much of my life, that it makes my friends and family uncomfortable if I bring up the subject too regularly.
I am going to talk about it now, and my history with it all, so if you don't want to know, turn back now.

I have a kind of weird kinship with Suicide.
I lost someone I considered to be my best friend to suicide when we were both 11 years old.
Very young for someone to be contemplating death, but the way it happened was more just an act of hysteria and trying to scare her parents, I think
We often talked about mortality and whether there was anything after death. I take comfort in the fact that she believed there was.. even though I myself do not share her faith in an afterlife.
I felt tremendous guilt when she died.. I used to get up at night and sneak into the kitchen, I would hold a knife to my chest and will myself to get a sudden burst of courage, just enough to plunge it into my stomach, I wanted to be like Juliet (in the original Romeo & Juliet movie), I wanted to want it so badly that I felt no fear. But I did, I was scared of the pain, which was my saviour really.
I also remember an occasion playing with her and her siblings, where I convinced them I had eaten some poisonous berries and that I was going to die very shortly thereafter, I told them not to be sad, that they would soon forget me, and when they started crying I felt this odd sensation... a mixture of guilt for scaring them all, and a little bit of self satisfaction, that they actually did care.

But after my friends funeral my attitude changed somewhat.
I had written a poem for her mom, which I had hoped would comfort her somewhat.. I didn't believe in god but I wrote about how although her body may be lying cold in her coffin, she was warm in gods arms now.
Her mother cried and hugged me and asked me to read it at the funeral.
She and I had never been very popular, we were outcasts at school, we did have a few friends, but for the most part we were excluded for being too weird.
But at her funeral, the entire school showed, the church was packed, and there wasn't a dry eye among them. The only two people I think who weren't crying, was myself and her 5 year old brother, who didn't really understand the concept of death.
I got up on stage with my mother, but I couldn't read it, why did all these people care that she was gone when they didn't want to know her when she was here?
I think I was mostly angry that they could all cry so freely, and I was yet to shed a tear. I was numb.

So I guess her death birthed in me, a rather cynical view of peoples grief around death.
I yelled at a friend in school who was all upset about another school girls death she didn't know. This was cruel of me in hindsight, it is perfectly reasonable to show compassion, I am sad about the deaths of complete strangers all the time now, but I have always found it difficult to believe that anyone would really feel genuine sadness at my death, at low moments in my life where suicide was a temptation, I convinced myself that even those that are close to me and love me, would soon get over my death, they would be better off without my burden, and life goes on.

Suicide is selfish, it may remove your problems, but it leaves them for others to carry as their burden, it leaves behind guilt and questions and feelings of inadequacy as people ask themselves if they could have done more.

I still have dreams to this day, of the day my friend died, where the chain of events leading up to her event are changed and I try to prevent her from doing what she did. If only I had called her earlier, or known she might react the way she did, I try to warn her or her parents or try to fix the things that went wrong that day, but it always ends in her dying, then I feel like maybe I orchestrated it to happen, I didn't want her to live after all, because if she lived, I would have to die in her place.
I still feel guilty that she died, I feel like it should have been me, I was the one of us two that wanted death, that often thought about death and fantasized about it, she believed in heaven and I didn't... her family lost a daughter and a sister and yet seeing all the hurt, seeing all the pain her death caused... it hasn't been enough entirely to deter me, from attempting the same thing several times in my life. I feel shame for that.

I don't want to go into detail about when/why I attempted suicide, my motivations differed each time, and this last time I came so very close to succeeding, and caused a great amount of hurt and pain.
I would like to say that has steered me away from that path, that I see now it is not an option for me, and that I don't want that kind of life for my children, one in which they feel they weren't enough, to keep me here on this earth... but I cannot honestly say.
I never want to hurt my children that way, much less my friends and family and I hope that will be enough each time I descend into darkness...

but as a friend once told me, suicide is like being in a burning building. You don't want to jump, noone wants to jump, but as the fire gets closer, the heat melting your skin, the smoke suffocating your lungs, cloying and acrid, stinging your eyes, blinding you from seeing any other possible routes of escape, as you feel yourself burning alive, jumping suddenly becomes the more favourable option...
yes you could stay, and hope that someone reaches you and rescues you in time... but the closer the fire gets, the harder it becomes to withstand the pain.

So that is how I feel about suicide. It is a tragic horrible selfish and horrific thing. It has a domino effect and passes your pain on from person to another to another to another, and by ending things for yourself, you are leaving a world of pain behind for others to take on board..
I hope never to walk that path again, but I also am not afraid to talk about it, it is a reality... somehow, somewhere along the way, suicide has become an option for many people today... and until we can truly understand why people are doing it, why it is easier than TALKING to those around us, sharing our problems, then we will never stop the wasteful deaths.
a 10 year old boy in the town I live took his life last year.
It makes me feel so damn sad that we don't talk about this - that we don't address the things that make us feel like suicide is an option, that we don't find ways we can keep ourselves and others safe. All it takes to keep from standing on the edge and thinking about jumping, is a little hope that things can change.
All it takes is some understanding, some compassion and encouragement to keep trying.
You don't have to agree with suicide, you don't have to like it, you can think it is selfish, you can think that people are weak, that people are stupid, but until you have walked in their shoes, don't think that you understand what goes through their mind at times like those.

When you have too many clothes in your closet, there is no room for shoes.
When you are filled with pain, shame, guilt, panic, fear and despair, there is no room for reason.


  1. Sarah. You are not alone...

  2. Well said Sarah. I've been there too and I'd be lying if I said that I didn't regularly fantasize about dying (several times a week). I've moved on though. I have a responsibility to my family and my kids and there's no opting out of that. It doesn't stop the feelings of depression though.

    I've since learned that depression is a common co-condition of Asperger's Syndrome. This could be the source in my case - or it could be something else. "Fake depression" I can live with. If I can write something off as a chemical imbalance or a co-condition, then I can ignore it.

    I'm not sure if that helps or not.