Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Black Dog Bites

Disclaimer - This post talks about suicide. (Not mine, not anyone currently close to me, so don't worry.) If you don't like this topic, please feel free to move on to the next blog/post/website/whatever. My aim is not to upset anyone, but please consider that the more we talk about it, the more we can help to prevent it.

As you know, I've written about depression many times. It's something I have an intimate connection with in a number of ways.
And throughout my life, I've also had a too-close connection with the side of depression that is final. Suicide. Sometimes it seems like a dirty word. But I'd like to write about it today. I've been thinking about it for a few days, wondering if I should mention it at all, but I decided that it's our hesitation to talk about suicide that makes it harder for people to get help, harder for the people that know about these things to find out what makes someone take their own life.

This all started when a blog that I drop in on from time to time took a serious turn. This blogger's husband, after a psychotic event, tragically took his own life. She has been documenting her struggle to make sense of it and carry on through her blog. I hope she doesn't mind me mentioning it.

Of course, with the web being the public entity that it is, there has been some backlash. People making comments about what's appropriate to post in a blog, etc.
I'm not going to comment on that side of things, except that I know how much writing helped me after losing Sam. I'm sure it's the same for her.

What I'd like to do is just to talk about it. I can't help but thinking that, like depression, the more we talk about it, the more people will realise they can get help, and more importantly, that's it's OK to talk about it, and to get help.

It's something that, sadly, is probably common to many people, but I have known a few people whose lives were prematurely cut short by suicide.

I was 17 when I first lost someone. I hadn't known him long, but we had started to develop a friendship and I had spoken to him only days before he took his own life. It was an aspect of life that I had never experienced or even heard much about. Which maybe is part of the problem. Yes, this was 20 years ago, and things were a little different. These days, there is more information available, and more people willing to help those who are considering suicide.

A couple of years later, my (then) boyfriend's best friend overdosed. I'd only met him once, but again, I saw the darker side of life.

Then, I heard that a friend that I'd known for a long time (and had even been intimate with), had killed himself. This time with a gun. Why hadn't he talked to someone? I'd lost touch with him over the years, and wished I'd been there for him. But he had a loving family that he'd left behind, and I'm sure they were there for him. I just couldn't understand why he'd done it.

Recently, someone close to my family also committed suicide. He'd had some issues with access to his child and was probably depressed, but again, it was unexpected and shook everyone that knew him.

I've always wondered what it would take to push someone over the edge like that. To make them think that there was no other option than to leave the world all together. I know what it's like to feel depressed, like nothing matters, and I guess it's not a big jump from there. I'm lucky that I have a wonderful family and good friends and this blog, to keep me focused on what's positive, what's worth living for.

But people that commit suicide have that too. Sometimes, they have the most wonderful, supportive family and friends (like my fellow blogger's husband). I guess no one can ever really know what's going on in their head, because we can't ask them.

But I truly think that it helps to talk. So all I'm asking is that we keep the conversation happening. These days, there are many services to help those in need, and more information about how to help our family and friends. If we talk about it, research it, reach out to people that are depressed or in pain, then maybe we can start to prevent it from happening.

I've edited this because after talking to my parents about this post, I had to add that I'm glad I put this topic out there. To hear about distant family members who aren't talked about (or at least their deaths aren't) because they died in a way that's embarrassing, not talked about. This is what I mean.
When someone dies, we're all sad and grieve together and talk about it, but when they kill themselves, it's something we can't talk about. It's whispered. It's ignored. I know that when someone dies that way, they leave a world of unanswered questions. Of guilt, trauma and disbelief. But it happens. And we've got to acknowledge that, and find ways for it not to happen.

1 comment:

  1. You're right, it is a bit of a taboo topic, but one that desperately needs to be talked about. I guess though that it's hard to talk about because it's hard to imagine anyone feeling that desperate, that defeated, that empty, that they would think death preferable to living.


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