Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I'm Thinking About Suicide

Relax, sit down, it's not as serious as all that. I'm just thinking about the topic of 'suicide'. Specifically, I'm wondering about different peoples attitudes to it.

We were out on Tuesday evening and for some reason suicide came up. At the table of four, three people piped up to say they couldn't understand how anyone would do it. One was particularly vocal, saying that in their experience people who threatened it were either trying to keep this person from breaking up with them, or they were seeking attention, or it was being used as a form of emotional blackmail. It never seemed real to this person.

Throughout the conversation I remained uncharacteristically quiet. I didn't want to put my opinions across for a couple of reasons. One, I didn't want to engage in an argument about something as serious and morbid as suicide. Two, it is something that I have trouble talking about because of...three, I have certainly given it very serious consideration over the years.

Shut up now – stop your oohs and awws. I'm not looking for sympathy. I'm just trying to put across an opinion I was unable to present in person.

It's no secret that I had a rough time in school and not the cheeriest home life. From a very early age I was extremely depressed and this continued for many years. In fact, of my 27 years, I've had more sad years than happy. Thankfully the happy ones have been clumped together over the last six years.

Suicide was always an option for me. Throughout my youth, not a day went by when I didn't give it serious thought. I planned and plotted the ways and means of doing it. I even had two very close calls, which are retrospectively surprisingly funny (admittedly in a darkly funny way). I won't share them now, but maybe I'll jog over to The Lives of Others some day. Suicide, for me, was not a cry for help. It was not a kid seeking attention. It was someone looking for a way to make the pain stop. It was solitary. It was lonely and it was very very real.

Today, anytime I hear of another teen killing themselves, my heart drops. It's the most pointless loss of a life. No one should ever reach the point where the only way out, the only option, the only future they can see for themselves is on the tip of a knife, the edge of a bridge, in the strands of a rope or at the bottom of a bottle of pills.

Yes, people do use talk of suicide to get attention and to emotionally blackmail those around them. This is sick and wrong. But there are so many who suffer in silence. There are so many people who's world causes them physical pain. They ache when the open their eyes in the morning and they plead that the moment they close their eyes at night will be their last moment ever.

I have no solutions. Just be nice to those around you. Be an attentive ear. Be a shoulder to cry on and a wall for them to kick their problems against. Be aware that not everyone is secure. Be aware that some people are just putting forward a fa├žade. And finally, in particular, if you see children having a hard time, being bullied or mistreated, DON'T turn a blind eye. Do something.

The Dublin Samaritans offer a kind ear to anyone in need.
Console is a charity that offers help and guidance to those who have lost someone to suicide.
Aware is an organisation that aims not just to help those who suffer from depression, but also to educate society on depression and how best to cope.
The HSE even have a National Office for Suicide Prevention.

Update: Sad news from Maman Poulet as someone in her apartment block took his own life today.


  1. Ah, Darren, it's hard to get these glimpses into your past and not be able to go back and do something about it :(

    I don't understand the mentality of people who sit and pontificate like that, about a subject they obviously have no understanding about, yet they feel they have the authority to shout the odds. The attitude you described bemuses and infuriates me. A sixteen year old girl hanged herself from a tree round the corner from me a few months ago. How is that attention seeking?

    Please God, people who feel suicidal will talk about it, and get some help with the hopelessness they feel. And not be put off by moronic opinions and judgements.

    My mother had a friend who had depression, and usedto talk about his fear that he would kill himself during an episode of it. He did, in the end. How awful, to be afraid of one side of yourself like that. How is that attention seeking?

    I spent a lot of my younger life wishing I was dead too. I still have that knee jerk reaction to misery, particularly family related misery, that 'I wish I was dead' go-to place.

    I think there is a big difference between doing it and not though.I don't know if it's personality related, or a chemical thing. I think in your heart of hearts, if you really want to die, and really believe it's best, it will happpen. Other people jump off the same bridge but get blown onto the verge by a miraculous cross wind.

  2. Hi Darren,
    I'm over from Jo's place.

    Wow, your post was very moving, because it was so painfully honest. Something that is so needed these days. Thank you for sharing.
    I think we all have had these thoughts to varying degrees, at least the thought of just wanting the 'pain' to end, or worse in losing hope that 'it' will never get better.

    your comment was great, too.

  3. I find it very sad when I come into contact with people like this, which I do much more often than I'd like to think is acceptable.

    Part of the reason I hate it is that I know that nothing I can say will force them to reconsider the opinion that people who attempt/committ suicide are selfish, moronic, manipulative people with no backbone. They're going to stick with that because that's what they want to believe.

    I've come to the conclusion that no one can properly judge the pain a suicidal person feels unless they've been in the position of considering suicide themselves.

    My best friend killed herself when she was 14, two years ago. As far as I know, she never even vaguely mentioned her intentions. She tried to keep silent.

    Smothered in so many questions, I depression pulled me in, and I had a very close brush with attempted suicide myself.

    People probably assume that it's OK to say those things because, as far as they know, no one in the general area has had any personal experience. Little do they know that you and I lurk hurt in the background.

  4. I think most people have been touched by suicide in one way or another. In my home town there have been a number of them over the years including a friend of a friend who was a casual acquaintance.

    It is funny how even if you did not know a person very well a suicide can still shake you to the core.

    Like everyone I have shitty days but never to the extent that killing myself would cross my mind. Even now, my only thought is that it would break my parents hearts.

    It is so sad that people cannot seek the help they need for whatever reason. Their poor families, I don't know how they get through it.

  5. @Jo Thank you so much for your comment. I didn't mean to be scathing towards the people I was out with. They are great friends and more understanding, intelligent and loving than many people I have met across my life. They were simply giving their opinions. They weren't being dismissive of suicide, just giving their personal opinions. It is just not something they would have every considered for themselves. I understand that POV. I envy it, in fact. Perhaps that's part of the reason I remained quiet.

    As for the miraculous wind? I don't know about miracles, but I've had two very solid gust of wind which have blown me back on course over the years. I think my late Granny was the most positive influence on my young life. I think I stuck around, in my darkest times, just for her. Lottie is the second breath of fresh air in my life. She has dragged me through some of the most traumatising moments of my life and of that I can never repay her.

    @HisGirl Thank you for your comment too. I have been striving for honesty over the past few months and it's tough to talk about your past without sounding like a whine. My life is wonderful at the moment. I am happy to share my past, if it of any use to anyone.

  6. I was a person at that table and I think this post doesn't tell the full story. Of course I am not belittling or scoffing at suicide and I am sure that Darren didn't mean it to come across this way.

    I was discussing a view which was that there are personalties which exploit the threat of suicide for their own gains and to achieve emotional power.

    I have experience of this from an Ex. A wonderful thoughtful sensitive guy (who was a good bit older than me and should have known better). I went out with him for over two years but we were ill matched and our differences were destined to tear us apart. We broke up umpteen times and without fail I was faced with threats each time.

    I knew he had a past of depression and it frightened me. I don't think he would have ever gone through with it but he went as far as to draw blood for "my benefit" and I stayed for far too long because of this fear he held over me. I feel a certain bitterness towards him ever since as I feel that he took something from my youth by exploiting what love I had for him in this way.

    I also have first hand of loosing someone I cared for dearly to suicide. He was a young guy who just lost his way and the effect it had on me took a number of years to put in my past.

    My views at the table were my own personal reflection of my personality. I COULD NEVER SEE MYSELF RESORTING TO SUICIDE no matter how bad things got. It's just not in my mentality.

  7. @Mariah As I said above, these people are great friends and just didn't see it as an option in their lives. That is a wonderful thing and they should not apologise for that. I have dwelled on too many things and debated the eternal far too many times in my relatively short life. Jo (above) talks about her 'I wish I was dead' go-to place. I have that too. Whenever I'm feeling down, those old feelings come pouring back and I can't chase them away. I would never ever follow through on those thoughts nowadays. They are so fleeting, but they are still there. I love the thought of people who don't ever consider it. That sounds fantastic.

    (Also, I'm going to have a read of your blog. I suspect I'll find it interesting)

    @Voodoo As I said above, it is the people in my life that pulled me through. My incredible Granny was a beacon in my life until three years ago. Lottie has picked up the torch that my Granny left behind her. Two remarkable women in so many very different ways. And I loved them both in very different ways (ahem, thankfully). I am truly the luckiest person ever to have known two people as amazing as them.

  8. @Lottie I know I don't need to explain myself to you. But still, I'm sorry if I was knocking your POV in my post. I understand your position better than anyone and as I said in comments above, I envy your position. In the bar I was unable to put my point across because I am still very insecure about the whole topic. I like to appear as strong as possible in front of you and I didn't want to seem too whiny. I am so ridiculously lucky to have someone like you at my side. I would like to think I would never put any of the pressures on you that 'the other guy' did.

  9. Dirty laundry alert -lol :)/

    I think we both know each other well enough not to need to worry about insulting each other. As I said to you , I knew you weren't getting involved and why.

  10. Always with the dramatic titles, you :)

    I love this post because it talks about something we never talk about. No oohs and awws, no sympathy. I've been there too. More than once and at different times in my life. I even had places picked out (I wanted to dive from a height and go splat, partially for the drama, partially because I wanted to know what it was like to fly....) I only made it to the verge once.

    Thankfully, like you I don't need it anymore, for now anyway. No-one knew but me.

    In fairness to Lottie I think she's right too. I've know the dramatic people who use the threat, or the implied threat of it as a control mechanism. From what I've seen they are almost never the actually suicidal ones.

    I feel envious of the ones that have never been that low, or that desperate.

  11. "partially because I wanted to know what it was like to fly...."

    :) There are easier was. Sponsored parachute jump anyone?

  12. O! Quite a number of comments; you've touched a nerve.

    (Quote: ”A woman I knew just drowned herself
    The well was deep and muddy
    She was just shaking off futility
    Or punishing somebody
    My friends were calling up all day yesterday
    All emotions and abstractions
    It seems we all live so close to that line
    and so far from satisfaction”)

    I too live close to suicide which I have rationalized or - if you like - converted to a wish to live.
    It’s a hard one to get your head around, and it’s not a cure by any means, but it may afford one a glimpse of the other side or nature of suicide.
    I know suicide is a very complex theme; one size does not fit all.
    But the life you imagine for the teen (you feel so very sorry for is obviously so far removed from the life they actually lived) could be the very life they had always wished for and never had the chance to obtain.

    (Quote: ”Dora says "Have children"
    Mama and Betsy say "Find yourself a charity
    Help the needy and the crippled or put some time into Ecology"
    Well there's a wide wide world of noble causes
    And lovely landscapes to discover
    But all I really want right now
    Is find another lover.”)

  13. Shit, sorry, guys - the context makes a difference, and I certainly didn't mean to sweepingly dismiss your friends - or especially not you, Lottie!

    That's a crappy situation you were in (How much life have you lived, by the way?).

    I have a friend in England who is going out with a married man - who can't leave his wife because she's depressed and suicidal. And it would upset his fateher, who he looks after on the weekends. Apparently she's planning to leave some time this year, so then they can be together.

    I can't decide if he's being responsible, or treating my friend badly. It's all a bit whiffy one way or the other. But I do feel that it is never ok to hold the threat of suicide over someone's head, that's manipulative and just not acceptable.

    But it's all very different situations.

  14. I think it's difficult for anyone else to judge whether someone talking about suicide is serious or not. Sometimes people who threaten it, actually mean it. My old school friend's boyfriend was one of those people who always threatened to kill himself if she left him. When she eventually left him, he killed himself.

  15. I'd agree that everyone has those dark thoughts at least a couple of times in their lives, and occasionally they are considered as realistic options. Its a very real problem up here (its not unusual to know 4 or 5 suicides) but one which is never discussed openly, and even if it is, its only after the event.
    Fair play to you for posting that Darren.

  16. Suicide is one of those sensitive subjects that has neither a right nor a wrong, some people see it as being right as they can see it as the only way out of a bad time in their lives, others see it as a wrong way as they may see the person as selfish, irresponsible or immature, not taking the time to resolve whatever issues brought them to that conclusion.
    I know there are people that use suicide as a threat to hold over someone to keep them or to make them do what they want to do, and these people aren't very nice people, they are bullies in a non stereo typical way.
    I don't think it's a subject that should be made light of either, as it is a very serious subject and no one knows what goes on in someone elses head, someone can show you one face but the true face is completely different.

  17. Very interesting read Darren, Sometimes people who seem dismissive of the idea of being able to do this are really covering thier own fears. Saying you dont understand how they could can mean in reality Please dont. It is a topic that is difficult to talk about for a lot of people, so well done to you for raising it in such an honest way.

  18. Very interesting read Darren, Sometimes people who seem dismissive of the idea of being able to do this are really covering thier own fears. Saying you dont understand how they could can mean in reality Please dont. It is a topic that is difficult to talk about for a lot of people, so well done to you for raising it in such an honest way.

  19. "Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem" This adage, in my opinion, sums up what the concept of suicide is truly about. People have hard times, they can become depressed. However, at what stage must a person reach for them to be prepared to commit suicide, to jettison everything that ever mattered to them. In most cases of sucide, surely there was a way, a means, an option for the person other than death. Everyone one of us, as humans, has the responsiblility to ensure that this path to recovery-whatever it may be-is clearly visible and viable to whoever is around us.

    P.S. I really don't get the relevance of the picture :)

  20. Ah first time on this blog and man you've hit a few nerves. I am proud to say that the tiniest of give-away comments on a distant blog a couple of years ago alterted me to a young man in deep trouble. He was about to do the deed and the tiniest, most miniscule giveaway alerted me to the fact that there was trouble brewing.

    He had no-one to talk to (or felt that way) until some antipodean busy body gave him the time of day. I intervened. We began corresponding, talking. I like to think I may have had some influence in saving his young life. He's now fine, well adjusted, happy and moving forward and we rarely talk about the dark times but both of us understand that they were really once there! Very difficult subject and I'm touched by your story and the comments.

  21. wow, baino, you put yourself out there. That was a generous act. It's hard to know with the internet - we all have our busy lives, and not everyone is up to taking on the responsibility of being someone's only friend.

  22. @SL Yip - I loves my drama.

    It is a topic that's worth bringing up and worth talking about. That's half my point - I was out with friends and still felt very uncomfortable talking about my experiences of it.

    @Jo You've nothing to apologise for. I didn't put it in the correct context. My fault. You're right - every situation, every story is different.

    @Tina I hope your old school friend doesn't feel any guilt for this. It's wonderful to have friends and people we can fall back on, but at the end of the day, we are all responsible for our own fates.

    @Sheepie Cheers - I felt I had to post something on it. It stuck in my head for the whole evening after that conversation.

    @Mary I agree - it's a different form of bullying, but bullying nonetheless.

    @Idiot Thank you. It is obviously very different for every single person and it's impossible (and wrong) to generalise.

    @Pauric For many people, they don't see it as jettisoning everything. For them there is nothing in their lives to jettison. Just blackness. Very sad.

    The picture: no great relevance, but those two teddies are sitting on our windowsill and I always think the light one looks really sad.

  23. @JO - that's something I really like about the lives of others. You probably remember that post a few weeks ago - STILL SAD.

    The response was very heart warming. I hope the person who wrote it has reached out to someone who offered their help and it getting back on their feet.

  24. @Baino Welcome to the blog! Thank you for commenting. That guy was extremely lucky. I think most of the time people just NEED someone to talk to. Much of the time depression is as a result of loneliness and isolation from the world. Even the smallest gesture could be enough to help someone. Fair play to you - that's wonderful.

  25. Sad news from Maman Poulet - someone in her apartment block took his own life today.

  26. apparently its the no 1 cause of death for young people in Ireland.

    More so than traffic accidents.

    I think most people consider suicide at some stage in their life, especially men.

    I know a family from around my hometown where 3 out of 4 brothers in their late twenties killed themselves seperately over the course of a decade.


  27. I can't recall who told me this but apparently since the Zero Tolerance No drinking crack down has come in the rate of suicide amongst men in rural areas has risen dramatically.

    Their only outlet being the trip to the pub after which they would drive home is now out.

  28. From experience people who do commit suicide or attempt to don't talk about it they just do it.Usually young men between the age's of seventeen and twenty three. Living in the country it seem's to happen more, or maybe we just hear about it. All it can take is for people to be more caring toword's the person and the family who live with regret's and recrimination's for the rest of their live's.

  29. I don't know how to start this other than to say I lost a partner to suicide and have spent the last 10 years painfully wondering what I could have done to prevent it. For us there was no signs, no idea, no threats, no depression, just a death by suicide.

    Unfortunately yes, some people are sick enough out there to threaten to take their own live to blackmail others and try to control them.

    However, every threat of suicide should be taken seriously, EVERY SINGLE ONE. Nobody should be allowed to threaten others with it but I think they should be taken seriously and given the help needed to overcome whatever it is that makes them feel either suicidal or willing to threaten others with it and bully people.

    For anyone interested out there in helping more I would recommend doing the ASIST course (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training). It is a two day course, its tough going but it could save a life. More details on courses here:-

    Also the more people that does the course, the more people that, like yourself Darren, are openly willing to speak about suicide and their own experiences, the more open the subject will eventually become and although not everyone that is suicidal can be saved, if one person's life can be saved then its worth it. :)

  30. @Morgor Frightening statistic, but I'm not really surprised by it. And sadly, one death can have a horrific domino effect that can keep going for years.

    @Lottie That's sad and possibly true, but I don't really think the government can be blamed for bringing in that system. It saves lives too.

    @Ails I agree. Sometimes it can be as simple as a kind word and an ear. I'd like to think myself a good listener - one of my better traits.

    @Stella Firstly, thank you for your email. Secondly, your comment here has touched me just as much as the post affected you. And yes, EVERY SINGLE ONE. I completely agree. Sometimes these threats are seen as a cry for help - well, there's a reason they call it a 'cry for help'.

  31. Darren, thank you for posting on such an imporant and sensitive issue. I agree completely with Stel's comment EVERY SINGLE ONE should be treated delicately and dealt with regardless of level of seriousness, because the more it is ignored the more excalated the problem becomes and the more serious the threat becomes.

    If I had not had someone in my life that was willing to believe in EVERY SINGLE ONE, I would not be here to write to you today. It was not attention seeking, or in my case a cry for help, but rather an overwhelming inner feeling that the world would be a better place without me in it.

    Thankfully there was just one person out there who believed in me enough to make me realise that the world is by far a better place with me here.

    I am eternally grateful to my father for that, as I would have missed my children growning up and the joy of having some new and wonderful friends in my life.

    So thank you again Darren, for your post, your honesty and your friendship.

  32. Fantastic post Darren. Quite the eye opener. And the comments and reaction just show how powerful a blog can be. Fair play for your honesty and for your openness in discussing something so personal so strangers like me can read and ponder.

  33. @CK I'm lucky to know someone like you and to count you among my friends. Thank you for the comment.

    @Narocroc I am shocked by the reaction to this. I just wanted to put into words some thoughts I was having. I thought it would be passed by like so many other posts, but the response is wonderful.