Understanding suicide

End of a majestic life

Posted by kvdl on January 16, 2009

A few nights ago I had a two hour drive through the moonlit Irish countryside on the way to work.This drive is my regular time out ,some ambient music and time to reflect.
As i negotiated the winding roads I remembered a friend who had died on the roadside a few months earlier. I pondered on the waste of her troubled young life and other people I had lost to suicide. Unexpectedly I came across a fox injured sitting in the middle of the road. Unable to move he sat there majestic facing whatever would come. Around here a fox is considered vermin and is hunted and despised.With humans his only adversary ,he cunningly outwits them to survive.As he was severely injured I turned the car with the horrible feeling that I would have to end his suffering. As I stopped he peacefully lay his head on the ground like a pet dog relaxing near the fire, took a few last sleepy breaths and died. I have always been an animal lover but this few seconds with me, the fox, a lonely road with only the moon as a witness, touched me deeply. To me the worst part of suicide is the loneliness of dying this way . A magestic person finally giving up an overwhelming struggle, to die alone,unattended and then become a statistic or just another piece of roadkill.


Posted in 1 | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »


Posted by kvdl on October 30, 2008

X was a freind of mine. A prominent buisnessman. Unknown to everyone he developed a drug addiction, fueled by his need to cope with a high stress life. Recognising his problem, he entered rehab and got off the drugs.He attended weekly aftercare and started going to Narcotics Anonymous. 

Another success story? They all lived happily ever after? 

More than a year into recovery X hung himself.  There is no one to blame he had fantastic support so what happened? As someone progresses in addiction their drug (or behaviour) becomes ther primary coping mechanism, slowely losing any pleasure, it becomes a crutch to function in life. Alcohol for example cheers you up when your sad, relaxes you when your stressed, gives you dutch courage when you are uneasy.

   Just giving up drugs is not enough you have to learn how to live a new life how to cope and this takes time. faced with the dilemna of going back to drugs or continuing with a seemingly endless struggle,X chose death.

Addiction is a lot more complex than this but X Is an all too common scenario. X Is now a statistic, a percentage in high risk groups. that percentage point represents His wife, two young children, friends coleagues. Na members, counsellors etc

X came into my mind when I opened my eyes this morning and all the other  Xs out there struggling against a cunning enemy of life. If there is an X in your life check out Naranon

Or Alanon/Alateen

I will have a lot more to say about addiction for both addicts and their families as it goes hand in hand with suicide. In my next post I am going to talk about something often neglected living with someone who is suicidal  attempts or threatens to take there own life.

Posted in 1 | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

For those who died,for those who live and those who lost.

Posted by kvdl on October 29, 2008

Why would anyone choose  to write a blog about suicide? Why not write about happy families, music or fun stuff, You might be wondering, what is this guys angle, whats he trying to sell. Maybe the guy is just weird! 

Maybe I am,but my motives are genuine ,I work in the field and can see how simple openness around suicide can make such a difference. You can get into all kinds of psychology ,protective factors,risk factors but at the end of the day I am dealing with people who hurt. All the education in the world would not help one bit without the simple communication between two ordinary human beings.

Wanting to die is a painful place ,losing someone to suicide is a painful place. I have been in both places and have shared the pain of others who were in these places. When i am listening to someone in pain my key position is to accept the invitation into their world rather than make them fit into mine. If some one invites you into their house you dont start rearanging the furniture to your taste but if they asked you to help them move the couch to a better place you would. This is a simple analogy to a genuine simple that i bring it into all my relationships. it is only on these terms that people can truly connect. If everyone adopted this attitude so much could change not just in relation to suicide but all our encounters.

On a lighter note I remember in training, a rudimentary animation about mr. square meeting Mr. round. they are both meeting from their own worlds unlike my analogy, they have to round off the others corners and straighten the others corners ,so what we end up with is two squares with rounded corners talking to each other.

Posted in 1 | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Planting the seed

Posted by kvdl on October 28, 2008

My last post raises a very common fear,can we somehow plant suicidal thoughts in someones mind By openly talking about suicide?

The experts say no but who trusts experts. Imagine your going through a bad patch in your marriage and a friend asks you has it come to the point of divorce?.  Would this make you go and get a divorce? The fact is that you probably wondered about divorce already and ruled it out or thought maybe it will come to that. The point is that your friend did not make you  think “thats it, I have to get divorced.”

In my work I have asked countless numbers of people about suicidal thoughts and the reaction varys from “No,I could never do that” to ” I took a load of tablets before we met”. In all cases the people had thought about it and my questioning brought forth their thinking on the matter.

Its a subject we avoid out of fear,stigma and we usually change the subject in ordinary life. now Imagine you are having suicidal thoughts and its a taboo subject, you feel you cant say it to anyone because of the stigma and if you broach it people change the subject or say”dont talk like that”. Imagine the isolation and loneliness you would feel. Then imagine the relief you would feel when someone asks you and is willing to talk about it.

At a course I attended recently one person asked about suicide cluster suicides, did one death not plant the seed for another?  Yes, but asking someone sensitively about their suicidal feelings is a lot different than the death of a peer or idol. That somehow sanctions suicide. Exploring suicidal thoughts does not condone or sanction the act.

Posted in 1 | Leave a Comment »

we are suicidal

Posted by kvdl on October 27, 2008

Ask someone “who dies by suicide?” and they may, as a lot of people do list off a couple of high risk groups. The truth is, though, that if you look at suicidal thought as a spectrum from “I woud be better off dead” to “I cant take it anymore”, then you realise that any one of us can be in this spectrum at different times in our lives.

In our average lives we say “I could never take my own life”. We say this from a safe place, able to deal with lifes ups and downs. THIS CAN AND DOES CHANGE. If we lack or lose the ability to handle our emotions, negativity and frustration step in. we start moving towards the spectrum of suicidal thought. we feel we are not coping and life becomes a struggle. The constant struggle seems endless. our needs are not met and we slowly slide into wishing it was all over. 

The point I am trying to make is that suicide is not about them and us. while some groups are at higher risk, there is not a distinct type of person that ends there own life and a type that does not. It is more to do with a persons ultimate pain threshold which is not set in stone. In this area we must avoid absolutes.

For many of us who have lost some one to suicide there is always the feeling that we should have known or should have seen it coming. So what can we do with our intuiton that all is not right with someone, The simple answer is ask them. currently the thinking is QPR, Question, Persuade, Refer.

click for more info

First we have to question the person about how they are, “you seem a bit low?” etc and as appropriate ask them If they feel suicidal,are they thinking of killing themselves,have they a plan, a time etc.

If they are suicidal we persuade them to do something about it then we go on to refer them, doctor, councelor etc

This is a simple synopsis of qpr training but the essential thing is to ask.

Posted in 1 | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Someone somewhere

Posted by kvdl on October 26, 2008

Someone some where on the Internet said a simple sentence concerning the right to die by suicide, that has stuck in my mind. They explained that It was not about wishing to die but wishing to live voluntarily!

In five years of working with suicidal people I have often come across this sentiment. I recently sat in a town center with a recovering heroin addict. Far from her past life she laughingly showed me a number of scars left from suicide attempts. Now, however, she says that what kept her alive through the years was the knowledge that she could end her life if things got too bad.

This raises an issue in wishing to help suicidal people do we have the right to deny them the right to self determination? 

In our rush to save lives,to prevent the actual death, do we fail to deal with the psychache that leads to death by suicide?

Statistics on self inflicted deaths pail in significance when measured against suicide attempts,the millions who felt enough  emotional pain to wish they were dead. Is this not where true suicide prevention lies?

Posted in suicide | Tagged: | 4 Comments »