So, you want to end your life?
Understanding self determination and the mind of someone who's feeling suicidal.
Firstly if you are feeling suicidal right now, please know there ARE people who understand, like the Samaritans, Papyrus and CALL helplines which will all be at the end of this post. I also understand, very much. I have attempted to take my own life in the past, and lost my beloved niece. I've also been in extreme emotional distress (crisis) on many occasions and actually, if I'm being brutally honest here) I regularly feel like my life isn't worth living. IT WILL PASS - I absolutely promise you. It DOES help to talk to someone but choose the right person - sometimes someone is too close and isn't able to respond in a way that allows you the space to spill out all your darkest thoughts and allow you to just to let it all out. Because that's how you're feeling when you're suicidal: overwhelmed, exhausted, hopeless and at a total loss - your world would be better off without you wouldn't they? Actually nope, in fact they're definitely not. Even if you feel you are the world's worst daughter or son, a pig of partner or former partner who's treated people badly, the world's worst mother or father - these feelings will pass and ending your life is definitely not what anyone can deal with.
Did you know for every suicide, an average of 135* people are directly affected by it - this includes family and friends, the wider community, first responders and that's not even people who are drafted in to support the people left behind.
You know those people who you think would be better off without you? Well, they are completely broken by your death. They cannot understand why you would ever think that, I mean yes, you've probably been a complete pain in the arse, a complete twat or bastard even. Maybe you've engaged in illegal or criminal stuff or even abusing someone and causing misery to everyone around. But I can pretty much guarantee, that whatever the reason is for you feeling like the lowest point in your life right now, removing yourself from it is NOT the answer, and if you can be arsed to read further I will tell you why....
One of the things that was said to me by my ex after I tried to overdose was, and he was raging angry at me btw so it wasn't nice cos he failed to understand why I felt so low in the first place, but ironically he said why would I want to leave my son (who was then about 11 or 12) at the same age that my dad died (not of suicide but of cancer). WHAT????? Fuck, I mean it wasn't the empathy I wanted but, my god, I needed to hear that. All of a sudden I realised that the pain of when I lost my dad when I was 12 years old and affected pretty much the rest of my life would be transferred on to the thing I loved most in this fucked up world. Why would I do that to him? No, I felt I was far from a perfect mother - I had no idea what I was doing and I was so depressed and mentally unstable at the time but he didn't deserve the pain I felt when my dad died which has lasted me my lifetime. He wont ever get over me taking my own life, I know that because I still can't get over the pain of losing my niece to suicide - it affects me every, single, day.
Another fact is that people bereaved by the sudden death of a friend or family member are 65% more likely to attempt suicide if the deceased died by suicide than if they died by natural causes.
Maybe you don't have kids yet, maybe you feel unlovable and are estranged from your family or maybe the way you're feeling is because of guilt or shame or you feel like you've let your closest people down but you know what - there's not a lot that you can't come back from with the right support. At least try one more conversation before you decide to make a final appearance. Give this number a ring 116 123 (Samaritans) and when you get through speak to that person and tell them everything of why you feel you can't go on anymore. They will listen without judgement and give you all the space you need to get it all out of your mind - trust me when I say, there's nothing like spilling your guts to a stranger and feeling listened to. That is what they are there for, it's confidential and they wont talk you out of it, they'll just be there for you. It's free and they do it on a voluntary basis so you know they really care, and if you need ongoing support they will signpost to other amazing organisations that could probably help you too.
I've said there's not a lot that you can't come back from because of this next part of my ramblings. I don't know if any of you have followed my posts on Facebook recently but I shared a post a couple of days ago about an older gentleman who had gone missing in Cardiff and the family and police were desperately trying to locate him, Sadly his body was found yesterday in Cardiff Bay and I shared that sad post. Nothing about his circumstances or death has been released or confirmed, so I'm completely taking an educated guess here, but initially it looks like that he has in some way taken steps to end his own life. If I've got the total wrong end of the stick then that's down to me and I humbly apologise to anyone that's reading this and upset by it. However, I do feel the need to reference this as I'm sat here thinking about his family and friends who must be absolutely devastated and emotionally exhausted right now.
I have wondered given his age and the comments made about his health whether he might have had bad news from the doctor - maybe he's got incurable illnesses that are impacting his life that he feels he can't carry on - I must admit that's where a lot of my own anxiety comes from since my mobility has been impacted by stage 4 osteoarthritis. Perhaps, he's even had a terminal diagnosis. Wasn't it the case that the late great Robin Williams had received a diagnosis for Parkinson's three months prior to his suicide? Having experienced a lot of grief in my own family (Dad, Nan, Mum, Niece and both Brothers and that's just immediate fam!) I can honestly say I've experienced loss at an abnormal level for my age, so I feel somewhat qualified to comment about grief.
When I began the post I mentioned self-determination - which is the concept that someone has the right to chose for themselves. I think it's at the heart of all the humans rights activism and even currently gender issues that we see nowadays. In terms of suicide or death we've not quite reached a point of understanding I don't think. I learned about this subject when I became a listening volunteer for Samaritans because, it's one of the more controversial aspects of their service. They do not actually try to talk a person out of taking their own life as I said above and that's really important because for the person who calls, they are probably adamant that what they're going to do. So rather than talk someone out of it instead they will explore the reasons and options for them. That in itself more often than not, helps the person to rationalise and decide for themselves that they want to 'carry on' with their life for now.
The thing is none of us are eternal are we? We're all going to die at some point, it's just a matter of when and I know in this country we are particularly shit at dealing with death and grief. Just look at the fiasco of the Queen's passing - omg if there was ever a reason to make changes to our culture that was it. All that pomp and tradition and expense - but I'll save that rant for another day. In my beloved homeland of the Isle of Man they are currently on the verge of introducing an Assisted Dying Bill to which I have submitted a response on their public consultation. Having seen various people die in various situations such as my poor mother in law being fed through tubes for two years completely devoid of being conscious with vascular dementia. I would hate to wither slowly away like that, with the onus on my poor son to painfully have to watch his mother progressively get worse. What possible reason would there be to keep me alive. So in the concept of my own life if I knew that there was no hope of improving my life expectancy then yes I would probably chose assisted dying or suicide depending on the local law of the land. I'm sorry if that's shocking to you or that you don't agree - you are welcome to put your own voice out there too, but for me I am not afraid to die when the time is right whenever that might be. I believe if we accepted assisted dying into our culture then it might prevent families going through the heartbreak and absolutely awful inquest procedures or them going missing before the heartbreaking finding of their bodies days, weeks or months later.
I once wrote a post about suicide being preventable and my current life's work is dedicated to making this possible. Yes, I know it's a rather high bar given the average amount of suicides per day (recorded by ONS in 2019) is about 19 per day in the UK alone. Shockingly those statistics aren't exact either because, as I've found with my work with the Co-alc Alliance, the coroner's reporting is quite complicated and there are many "self-inflicted" deaths that are not ruled as suicides, so narrative, accidental or sudden deaths are not included in those figures.
Anyway the purpose and I guess shocking title of this post is part of my strategy - I'm hoping by writing this that it might help at least one person to understand some of the complexities behind suicidal ideation and maybe what they can do to help themselves or alternatively how to react if someone else tells them they want to end their life. Having feelings like you want to end your life is very valid - you feel some sort of loss in your life and just want the emotional pain to stop. Well it can, trust me, you can find the right person to talk to, probably a stranger on the end of a helpline or in a group of other people going through similar shit. You are not alone and these feelings will pass. And if they don't FFS get in touch and let's talk about it - I'm not a qualified counsellor but I have an enormous network of amazing people and organisations that want to help you outside of the broken NHS system.
Do you know that one of the most common phrases heard by a Samaritan is that callers say it's the first time they've felt listened to. How fucking mad is that - it's not rocket science folks - just let the words come out of your head - even if it's on a long rambling blog post like I'm doing now.
Just promise me before you hurt yourself again you'll speak to someone - anyone....