On Contemplating Suicide

It's a tough subject, suicide. Just the word can be a trigger for many, especially  those that have thought about (like me), those that have had it visit them in their lives and even for those that feel it in the air, hear about it at the ubiquitous water cooler. And especially for all Kiwis as this BBC report from July 2017 says, "A new report by Unicef [pdf] contains a shocking statistic - New Zealand has by far the highest youth suicide rate in the developed world."

So, I give fair warning, this isn't going to be an easy read and, if you think this may bring up feelings you're not prepared or tooled up to read then please, be kind to yourself and give it a miss.

Suicide. The ending of one's own life. The final decision when things seem so dark, all options are seemingly gone and the world would be a better place without you. It's a cold concrete hard grey lifeless place that sees one thinking, "This is it."

For a long time my ability to cope (with life, with myself, with others, with the wind, with a funny look from a stranger, from finding the spoons were mixed up with the forks, with anything ...) was a natural part of who I was. I saw myself as bulletproof, my friends (I suspect) saw me as energetic and a go-getter, someone who "makes shit happen". And that's true today. However, deep inside, hidden from everyone including myself was a growing urge to give up.

Imposter syndrome would be one label you could give it. Another would be anxiety. You could even pop on the word depressive (manic depressive, sometimes but I'm not actually bipolar, that was mostly drink fuelled emotion releases). And there is of course my "silly brain" as I now affectionately call the slightly chemically weirded lump of grey and white matter I treasure within my skull.

Doing something well, "making shit happen" is when I'm in the zone. There are no suicidal thoughts allowed in the zone. In fact, if they try to get in they discover no other thoughts want to speak to them, no-one wants to play with them and certainly no-one is even hearing them. They're like a small child, all alone in the corner of the playground talking to themselves, plotting their revenge, scheming to ge4t themselves heard. Because they know that playtime will be over at some point, and they can be the loudest child in the playground and EVERYONE WILL LISTEN TO THEM!

Yes, that's how suicidal thoughts can come - with speed, with power and without a care in the world. This is their time!!

A simple offer of a ring. A small disagreement. Those pesky spoons and forks.
And ... BOOM!

There is no point!
Everything is worthless.
I am in the way for everyone fulfilling their life's purpose.
I have no other options but to get out of the way.

The feelings that I experience can range from relief, finally the pain will go away, everyone will be able to breathe a sigh of relief that the hurdle that is me is out of the way and get on with their lives. I also feel sadness, sad that I won't see my kids continue to grow into even more amazing humans than they are now. Sadness that I won't see tomorrow. There will not be one more sunrise.

I feel scared. Really, am I going to do this ... is this really a thing. What if it hurts. Seriously, this is a big deal, I don't want to die (willingly) in pain, shrieking out to the universe, angry that my focus is not one of rest but one of heightened physical feelings. That would make me terribly angry and hard to live wi--- oh, yeah.

Planning. Do I do any planning? I know from many sources, some close that are wise, some that have attempted suicide and some that I now know were planning and did kill themselves that planning is an enormous step. It's sets you on the road to attempting suicide.

So do I plan. No, not really. I have thought about many ways, much like others may have wondered what it's like to be in a car crash, or be an All Black, or any of those fleeting fantasies that people have whilst waiting for the number 11 bus on a rainy Tuesday evening.

Fantasy. Well, maybe more than that.
I do know how I would do it.
But there's no planning ... or is that planning. Yeah, I suspect that's planning.

It's at this point some of you may be having seriously worrying thoughts about me. Know this: It's not my intention to commit suicide. In fact, I'm not sure those that do write blogs like this ... this is NOT a goodbye letter asking for anyone that reads to understand me.

Seriously, it's not. My intention with this blog post is twofold -  get it out into the open through the act of writing so that I can also see it clearer (this is both cathartic and educational for me), and to allow others a glimpse inside so that they may see themselves, or others around them, reflected in some of my words and can find solace and hope in them.

So it's true I've dabbled, internally, with planning. Probably only once really, a few years ago. But now that work is done, I have a plan-ette, well more a project vision than actually tasks allocated to resources on a Gantt chart.

The thing is though, it's never a true project. It lives inside, sometimes it could be seen as steps to the end, and from what I know in those final few hours it really is a robotic set of steps that seem unstoppable. Why would you stop it, the decision has been made and now it's just doing. And the last thing you want is someone trying to stop you. How very dare you! I have made my call, I am doing this and the thought of someone even attempting to stop me is, well, one of, "Mind your own bloody business. Believe me, you'll all be better once this is done."

I imagine. I don't have a plan, I've never attempted suicide.
But it's very easy to allow my imagination to go there, to know what I would want.

So what does happen when the Elven Queen of Suicide rises up?
All other voices are drowned out. All other thoughts are lost in the din. They try, at first, to battle her, to reason with her, to even side with her and trick her into going away. They rarely succeed in those first hours, and never in the first minutes. There is only her, and I love her. I am energised by her, she is all powerful, I can do anything I want (well, only one thing, but fuck it, I could do that, take my own lifer, how powerful and incredible is that). I am swept along by the sheer awesomeness of her power, she is here to end it, to save me, to take me away, to look after.

This is, for me, the dangerous time. I have never let these feelings carry on for more than 15 minutes. If we had guns in NZ (like the US) I'd be a bloody danger to myself. I ain't gonna use a knife (owww, and we all know what I think of pain), and drugs are likely to take too long, so it's not an option. Hey, look, if we're all very clever, put our minds together we could come up with something eh, but let's not do that, ever.

Now comes the awful time. The time that is, for me, a time of utter desolation. When the other voices come back they are scared, they are cowering and they are unsure that this time they can overcome,one more time. The suicidal thoughts feed on this, they want this because then they can grown again and be bigger, more powerful and maybe, this time she will win. It's a cycle, a downward, horrid, nasty cycle.

And I know it. I can feel it happening, I can sense the swirl of the whirlpool pulling me back to "her" (sorry, I really have got my suicidal thoughts as the terrible Elven Queen, such a fitting image for me). My logical side, my everyday thinking knows the pattern, and it's normally the first to rise up and talk louder than the Queen.

My, "I've been here before and yet I'm still alive" thinking from my clever brain becomes the protective barrier, stands up to the Queen, holds back the fury and  energy and gives the rest of me, all of the rest of me, a moment to breath, moments out of the storm, a respite from the hurricane to gather itself.

I don't commit suicide.

But I am wasted. The picture in my mind is of those places that are left after the hurricane has been through. The stunned survivors left to just look, to wonder and to hug each other. There's not a lot of talk, but a lot of emotionally release, a time to sit quietly and look upon the damage that has been wrought. That damage is rarely inside, it affects my relationships with others, it can affect my work, and even affect my on-going self. But, it's over.

The cleanup can take minutes, days or even on rare occasions weeks.

I have a process I go through that is well tested and works for me (but probably not those that have to live with me). I stop talking, and this may seem like the last thing I should do but it's a time of internal reflection. It's also a quiet time for all my other thoughts to grow their confidence, to regroup and learn for the next time. They (I) need to let them (me) do this and external distractions can be just that.

Once that is done and I have the internal fortitude again I reach out to my wife. Always Liz is the first to know, in fact she knows once the first fury is over, but I am (currently, time to grow a little eh) unable to connect with her - I feel the Queen might get her, and that is NOT acceptable. I also tell people I've been a bit down lately, that black dog has visited. I get hugs, I meet mates and have a cry.

But mostly I start to see the world in colour. I see why I didn't commit suicide. I have an overwhelming love for my kids, I cry at the drop of as hat when someone shares something "cute and cuddly about kids / parents" on Facebook. I am relieved, I am back in this universe, with all the glorious sounds,m smells, colours and experiences that make living ... a privilege, a joy, an absolute miracle and an honour.

I am, once more, energetic and a go-getter, someone who "makes shit happen.

Things that may help


New Zealand

  • 1737, Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor
  • Lifeline – 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland
  • Youthline – 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email talk@youthline.co.nz or online chat
  • Samaritans – 0800 726 666
  • Suicide Crisis Helpline – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)
  • What's Up – 0800 942 8787 (for 5–18 year olds). Phone counselling is available Monday to Friday, midday–11pm and weekends, 3pm–11pm. Online chat is available 7pm–10pm daily.
  • Kidsline – 0800 54 37 54 (0800 kidsline) for young people up to 18 years of age. Open 24/7.
  • thelowdown.co.nz – or email team@thelowdown.co.nz or free text 5626
  • Anxiety New Zealand - 0800 ANXIETY (0800 269 4389)
If it is an emergency or you, or someone you know, is at risk call 111.

UK (via the BBC)


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