Suicide. Trying to Understand It

My first contact with suicide came when I was in primary school. There was a boy that was a little older than me who I had met at vacation care and happened to live a few houses up the road from where my parents where building a house. He kept hanging round and I remember one day saying to him “I don’t like you so leave me alone. I don’t want to see you here anymore”. That was the last time I saw him.

I remember so clearly the cold rainy day when the news was delivered to me at school that the boy had been found dead in his home. I remember my heart dropping, wondering if my words had driven him to do something so drastic. Then the anger. “How dare he do that! How selfish. His poor family having to live with that for the rest of their lives”.

Since suffering PND I have come into contact with many mums and partners that have been touched by the horror of suicide or the equally horrid failed attempt at suicide. I am extremely lucky that at my mental worst I did not self harm or have the desire to harm my self or my children. My preference was to get in a car and drive……drive anywhere but here. But in saying that, I have learnt the real truth about suicide. The thoughts and feelings that underlie this dark under current that courses though some peoples lives. I have realised that suicide is not a selfish act but rather a selfless one.

These individuals feel that they are not good enough men, women, mothers, people. That they are not worthy of being on this planet. That they make no good contribution to the lives of those around them. By taking action they seek to lessen the pain and suffering of those around them. “If I am not here they won’t have to suffer through my pain” or “I am just burdening everyone with my mere existence” are both lines I have heard spoken when it has come to discussing motives behind suicide. They self loathe and abhor that they are wasting time….wasting a life.

I know many people share my early feelings about suicide stating “what a cop out”, “I have dealt with my issues why the hell couldn’t they – they are just weak”. The stigma that surrounds mental illness in general helps to perpetuate this image of the selfish person. We are forced to internalise our feeling and thoughts. Forced to take on the “appearance” of the happy mum or person even though we may be dying inside. In addition, the media’s stance on reporting suicide (see the “suicide contagion” for more information) has also been a hinderance in peoples understanding of suicide. How many mums die from PND every year? How many children are left motherless by mothers that can no longer go on? 10, 20, 100? It is a statistic I have never been able to find….so does that mean it doesn’t exist?

We don’t need to know the mechanism of suicide or where it happened but an acknowledgement by the media that a life has been lost due to an illness, that is treatable, I think would go a long way to making PND and mental illness in general less of a stigma.

So by writing this post I hope to remove the stigma, the shame and some of the silence that binds so many of us. If you are concerned about someone you know or someone you love talk to them or contact one of the following below to discuss your concerns. I have on a number of occasions called Lifeline, PANDA and even the police when I was concerned for someone’s safety. Yes, that person may hate me for doing it but I would rather them hate me and have them safe than live with the thoughts that I COULD have done something to help them.

Linda

PANDA (Post and Antenatal Depression Association)

Manned by volunteers, most of whom have been sufferers of PND at some time, this is an amazing organisation.

Phone: 1300 726 306

Hours: 9am-7pm  Mon – Fri (AEST)

http://www.panda.org.au/

beyondblue info line

Provides information on depression, anxiety and related disorders, available treatments and relevant referrals.

  • Phone : 1300 22 4636 (24 hours a day)
  • Email:  infoline@beyondblue.org.au

http://www.beyondblue.org.au/index.aspx?link_id=94

Lifeline

Phone: 13 11 14 (24hrs a day)

http://www.lifeline.org.au/

Suicide Call Back Service

Phone: 1300 659 467

This service provides crisis counselling to people at risk of suicide, carers for someone who is suicidal and those bereaved by suicide, 24 hrs, 7 days across Australia.

http://www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au/?gclid=COm0uNz39K8CFcgopAod7XCAEA

Comments

  1. Mick from Armidale says:

    Suicide is always preventable. Whilst some say it was a weakness of the individual, I say that it is a weakness of the group that ignores, overlooks or just fail to have empathy with individual. In that case, you don’t know what kind of hell they are going through and the first step you can take is ask them if they are really ok – don’t under estimate the power of a cuppa and a decent old fashioned chin wag. Don’t be shy – you might just save some one

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