Trigger warning: this article contains sensitive content regarding suicide and depression. If you are suffering, please know you are not alone. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. It gets better.
Sometimes suicide can seem inevitable, but is anyone ever prepared for when suicide actually strikes?
To lose anyone significant within your life can seem unbearable and leave you wondering how your life will ever be the same. But what happens when you lose someone who decided to take their own life?
When this happens an innumerable of questions cloud your mind, but in my case the hardest thing was accepting what I’d already thought I had accepted, the death of my dad before he died.
Living life as a child with a parent who has depression is by no way easy. The constant ups and downs really do take the toll on you. As a child, you are more receptive to the unknown emotions that surround you, leaving you feeling lost, confused, vulnerable, and hopeless. I spent many years as a child being terrified that my dad might do something “stupid” and was left confused only too often as to why he was upset so often blaming myself for not being good enough. However, I was wrong to do so.
It wasn’t until I hit my early teens I had a greater understanding of why my dad was “sad.” This was because of his ongoing battle with clinical depression and Borderline Personality Disorder. With a greater understanding of mental health, I continued to support my dad the best I could.
This didn’t come easy. Many text messages and emails I received were alerting me that he was intending to take his own and with no way to contact him, or know where to find him. Each time became frustrating and exhausting. Lying about my age to visit Dad in psychiatric hospital after he attempted suicide one time was horrendous, looking into his eyes and wondering why?
He was a successful and hugely talented man who had supportive friends, a great mum, and me and my younger sister. But somehow that wasn’t enough, and that’s okay.
The risk of my Dad taking his own life was extremely high and he was open to talking about it when he was at his worst. Hearing it was hard. Logging on to social media and seeing posts that your father was pronounced a missing man and seen as a threat to himself, or having the police knock on your door explaining concerns for his welfare and whereabouts, begging hospitals to take him in or screaming helplessly to mental health workers for help because you were breaking yourself.
Constantly living in a world of fear, anxiety and confusion I came to the conclusion that it was inevitable that my dad would turn to suicide. I trained my mind to accept that his suicide would be inevitable it was just a matter of time. Forcing myself to carry own progressing within my own life my dad’s was always at the back of my mind. But honestly, no amount of preparation can actually prepare you for when it happens.
February 2016, dad seemed to be doing well, he seemed brighter than he had been in years and was in regular contact. I worked abroad and managed to gain a huge promotion to which dad was excited about. He was proud and sent me endless amounts of messages expressing interest and excitement. March 29th, 2016 was the big day of my promotion moving from America to Germany, the last words I received from him were “good luck travelling today” I replied a simple “thanks Dad,” unbeknown that was the last time I would ever hear from him.
Receiving the devastating news “It’s your dad, he’s died” caused me to fall to my knees dropping both my phone and suitcase in a lonely airport, lost and shaking with shock and uncontrollable tears rolling down my face. I knew exactly how it would have happened.
I went through torturing scenarios in my mind and asked myself how could the news of what had happen affect and cause me so much shock and pain if I knew his suicide was inevitable?
But the truth is there was always a tiny segment of hope that he wouldn’t do it, a feeling that maybe he would realize how lucky he was to have the things he had in life and how beautiful his life could be if only he could pull himself out of the dark.
No note, no explanation, just emptiness and confusion has been left. However, feeling guilty is not an option, no amount of medication, no amount of therapy, psychiatrists, or love could save my dad and neither could I, or anyone close to him and that’s okay. No one can help someone in such desperation until they acknowledge that they need to help themselves first and they need to want it, really want it. The only thing to do is to accept and respect what has happened and find peace and comfort in the fact that death is sometimes a choice and that for one split second suicide was exactly what my dad wanted.
Being around a parent in such despair can lead the children to feel and act the same way this is often referred to as “learnt behaviour.” Sadly, in my dad’s case, the tragic death of his own father also ended in suicide at a young age after living a life of depression and alcohol abuse. This haunted him right to the end.
Unfortunately, this event continued to control my dad’s mind and his own life continued to spiral out of his control, ending in the same way. This is something that I’ve learned from and will not let history repeat itself. I believe we should be educated about mental illness from a young age and learn to accept that at some stage of our lives, we all will feel heightened emotions and go through times of depression or deep sadness. But we all need to be reassured that this is okay.
There is a way out, we just have to fight for it and believe things will get better, because trust me they will in time. That tiny segment of hope may feel so small or worthless, but it’s something, something that if you believe hard enough could potentially save lives.
Suicide statistics show there were 6,581 suicides in the UK and Republic of Ireland, in 2014. Suicide is real and is happening every day. In fact, one death by suicide is happening every two hours. This is outrageous and needs to be changed.
Until we all acknowledge the seriousness of not only the devastating feelings and embarrassment of becoming suicidal, but the long lasting scars of the people who witness a suicide of someone close to them, nothing will change.
Suicide should be shouted about. It’s not a subject to be scared of approaching. It’s real, and by talking openly about it maybe it could save someone you love, or even yourself at one stage in your life.
Let’s change something. Let’s not let suicide become inevitable. Let’s make recovery a priority and focus on seeing the positives that can give you hope and courage to carry on living. Cling on to the tiny segments of hope and believe that things really can get better. But only you are in control of ensuring you make the right decisions to see the great things that will happen…eventually.
You’ve got this.