Suicide : A Personal Story

“Did you really want to die?”

“No one commits suicide because they want to die.”

“Then why do they do it?”

“Because they want to stop the pain.”  ……………Tiffanie DeBartolo…How to kill a Rock Star

 

 

As a psychologist, I have been involved with patients who have, at some time in their lives, thought seriously about suicide, some more seriously than others. As I stated in a recent post, these signals should always be taken seriously and many of the myths that exist about the reasons for suicide are just that, myths. Even though it is advantageous to talk to suicidal patients about the reasons for living, one must be infinitely careful about this. The most common reason for living given to try to snap people out of these thoughts is “what about the ones left behind, how will they feel?” Some suicidal thoughts are brought on by the fact that the ones left behind would be much better off without that person around. Justification enough in a suicidal mind to end it all.

I have, myself been touched by suicide on a personal and professional basis. It is exactly 18 years to the day that my best friend hung himself in his apartment. This incident, sad as it was, changed my view on life completely. This is his story :

When I first came to live in Germany, it seemed a strange, cold land full of distant, unfriendly people, (this is a view that many Anglo-Saxons have but it changed later). I craved conversation and company in my own language and one day met Jack through a mutual female friend. I guessed Jack was gay and he was but it didn’t stop us forming a good friendship which lead on to us working together, forming a small company. Jack was full of life, an American from the mid-west with an open mind to everything and everybody. As a friend, he was always there when needed, cheerfully helping his friends with no expectations of something in return. His favorite phrase when people noticed his helping attitude was “that’s where the rubber meets the road!” Our friendship had lasted four years when a day came he was depressed and irritable. No amount of prompting could reveal what was in his mind and his method of avoidance was to disappear and allow no contact with anyone.  We were all scratching our heads and after numerous unanswered calls and visits to his apartment, the police were called. They broke into his apartment to find him hanging from the studio above. His suicide note revealed that he had contracted AIDS and due to his desire not to be a burden on his family and friends, it was his wish to leave this world while still having all his faculties.

Needless to say, I went through a mixture of emotions from disbelief to anger at Jack to anger at myself for not recognising that he was in trouble. (In fact, I did recognise but never thought he would go so far).  To make it worse, Jack never showed anyone the pain inside him. He was always happy to take on other peoples’ troubles and lend a helping hand where he could. His depression and despair were kept private. It showed me how fragile life really is, that we can take nothing for granted and we can spend a lot of time throwing our lives away on thinking about things we cannot change, about things that might never happen and holding grudges that make us unhappy. I will never forget my friend but out of his death came the birth of a new realism and awareness, not only for me but for everyone who knew him.

 Dr. Nicholas Jenner is a Counseling psychologist in private practice working with individuals, couples, groups and companies. Apart from seeing clients face-to-face, Dr Jenner also runs a thriving online therapy business bringing help to those who are housebound or located in rural locations where therapy is difficult to find. He can be booked for online sessions from anywhere in the world. First consultation free. For more information , follow the link to his website HERE

Want to know more about Dr Nicholas Jenner? Check out what his clients say….HERE

 

  18 comments for “Suicide : A Personal Story

  1. The Quiet Borderline (back in hospital)
    August 2, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    This is very difficult for me to read about right now. But the more I can learn about suicide and the pain that it brings to family and friends, the better.

    Someone unfortunately hung themselves yesterday outside who was a patient in our ward. It’s deeply affected me but I won’t go in to detail here.

    Very sad stories indeed.

  2. August 2, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    Hi Dr. Jenner, thank you for sharing this story, sad, but a life lesson is learned.

  3. August 2, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    I need to read this story today! Glad it was here to read!

  4. artyelf
    August 2, 2012 at 9:43 pm

    Wise words, hard come by.
    This experience must have had a huge impact on your life and profession. Thanks for sharing, and bringing this topic into the public arena.

    • August 3, 2012 at 5:21 am

      In my experience, the biggest lessons in life often come this way….sad but true.

  5. August 3, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    The fact is, yes, I really did want to do it. Until the moment came that I didn’t. Due to the BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder), I can be very unbelievably impulsive. In the moment that it happened, I had a lot of factors working against me. And when I saw my opportunity to end it, I took it. Impulse took over. And I really did mean it in that moment. My thoughts of how it would affect my loved ones was replaced by my need to not be a disappointment anymore and that I didn’t want to feel so much immense pain anymore. I was kind of in a “zone”. And I did not care. But then, I looked around and the reality of what I was doing hit me. And I realized I did not want that. Which is when I called out for help from my friend. I am sorry for what you experienced with your friend. After what happened with me, and the response I got from my loved ones, I understand better now how it would have impacted them. And while I still battle thoughts almost daily, it has given me a better fight against it. Because I never want to make my loved ones hurt as much as I made them hurt that day. Or experience all of the same emotions that you did.

    • August 4, 2012 at 9:40 am

      Thanks for sharing your story here. Reading of your experiences will certainly help those who battle with such thoughts. I am happy you are pulling through. May your story be an inspiration to others.

  6. ann fitzgerals
    August 7, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    I often feel as if my husband would of asked I would of gone with him I miss him with everything I am.

  7. Fiona
    August 7, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    This was my status on Facebook on 21 July 2012.

    My brother hanged himself on Wednesday, from a tree, in his beautifully landscaped and manicured garden.

    Did you get a shock reading that? Imagine the shock I got when the police rang to tell me, specially as my Dad also hanged himself in my parents’ back garden 6 years ago. Both times I saw the knife used to cut them down and had to pick up the knives and get rid of them. Did that shock you? I
    had to move a small ladder that my Dad had stood on while hanging himself. I saw the huge marks in the mud on my brother’s beautiful front lawn yesterday, where the ambulance had skidded to a halt as it arrived. I saw the empty egg shells on a plate on his kitchen bench – his last meal. I saw the empty stubby of beer in its rubber “Australia” holder in his kitchen sink – his last drink. I put it in a plastic bag and brought it home with me, the only connection I have with him in his final moments alive.

    The reason I’m telling you all this is because I wanted to explain a fraction of what it’s like for someone left behind after suicide.
    I want to help to eradicate the stigma attached with suicide in society. I know it’s an awkward topic, but until changes occur, more and more people we know will be taking this tragically devastating step.

    It could be your brother next, or your father, or mother, or sister, or cousin, or your son or daughter.

    I found out yesterday that my brother told one person of his frame of mind/depression, who was forbidden to tell anyone. It was some guy I’ve never even heard of, let alone met. My brother wouldn’t give this friend my number when he asked for it, or my Mum’s number. So how were we to have helped, without even knowing? My brother was too ashamed and embarrassed for people to know – even his own sister! Just a one word sms “help” and maybe I could have saved him?

    DEPRESSION AND SUICIDE MUST BE TALKED ABOUT. THOSE SUFFERING AND CONTEMPLATING NEED TO REACH OUT FOR HELP. IT IS NOTHING TO BE ASHAMED OF.

    Please spread the word by talking about depression and suicide and what it does to those left behind. The scars are horrific, devastating and very deep for a very long time. It might save one life, or maybe even a few. Thanks, Fiona ♥

    • August 7, 2012 at 5:08 pm

      It was incredibly brave to share your story on here with the intention of helping others. Words cannot describe how you must be feeling.

      • Fiona
        August 7, 2012 at 5:38 pm

        Thank you. It’s 3 weeks today……the shock of the two suicides have now combined into one very large mind blowing shock. He was my only sibling. People need to ask for help – there is no shame in this, in fact, quite the opposite.
        Depression is a disease and there is medication available for it, but sadly, my brother was too ashamed to ask for it. Such a waste and so much heart ache left behind.

      • August 7, 2012 at 5:42 pm

        There is still a stigma around many mental health issues that crosses cultures, religions, genders and age groups. This needs to be addressed.

  8. August 15, 2012 at 4:23 am

    Dear Dr. J,

    Thank you for sharing your story. It is so shocking and permanent – but because it is common, it is necessary to talk about, and so I thank you for putting it out there. My sister slit her wrists twice, so I know the panic of someone you love trying to end his/her life. It is an utterly powerless feeling. Thankfully, she was not successful.

    I’m no stranger to depression myself. I’m 6 years into recovery from PTSD, addiction, and major depression, and I’m still so sad to admit I almost took my own life when I first stopped numbing myself. The terror (relating to my abusers’ message to me as a child if I ever spoke) was overwhelming, and had I not been a mom, I am sure I would have gone through with it and missed this wonderful life I now have. I shudder at the thought of leaving our kids without a mom, but I also remember well the desperate, hopeless pain I carried with my throughout my life. The best advice I have for anyone suffering from depression, whether suicidal or not, is this: talk, write, yell, do whatever you can to express your emotions – they are real and require honoring. YOU require honoring. If you make the decision to heal (it is a choice) and are willing to work at it, whatever it takes, you will get better. Don’t project your future based on how bad you feel today – your feelings will change as you move through recovery…

    You were given a life for a good reason and it wasn’t for you to destroy it. Don’t let abuse, unprocessed grief, trauma, bad relationships, sexual abuse, neglect, or anything else separate you from your spirit. You have a mission in life and once you heal, which I promise, promise, promise you WILL – you will pass along the hope to others who will follow in your footsteps. Take the time to care for yourself and freedom will be yours.

    And, Fiona, I am so sorry for your losses. My gosh, my heart is broken for you. You will be in my prayers. Take care of yourself through your grief…

    • August 15, 2012 at 4:22 pm

      Thanks for taking the time to comment and sharing your story…..if more people opened up about this subject, it would become less of a taboo.

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