I’ve been procrastinating writing this blog the past couple of weeks – as it’s such a sensitive subject to write about and rightly so. There are two perspectives to suicide, the perspective of the person who acts on it and the one of their family, friends and loved ones.
In my past, I have been of the perspective of the one who acts on it. I have a lived experience of suicide attempts and have felt the intense pain that leads someone to believing such an act is the answer.
Over the past 12 months I have been working as a Youth Peer Worker, utilising my lived experience of mental health experiences to support others in theirs. Recently, unfortunately a client of mine lost his life to suicide. Safe to say this has been the most influential death in my life so far.
I stood at his funeral, surrounded by at least if not more than eighty people. People who loved my client. People whose lives were influenced and inspired by him. People who were hurting by the loss of such a genuine and kind man. I cried during the speeches. I cried for the loss of a life gone too soon, I cried for the loss of my relationship with him, but mainly I cried for those who loved him deeply, and now have to carry the pain of a life without him there.
I looked around at my surroundings, at the photos of him up on the television screen. I watched the people of all ages there to pay their respects – and wondered how they were all connected to him. School? Family? University? Sporting Clubs? The list could go on forever. I had a realisation, the type that makes your stomach drop. This could have been me. This could have been my funeral. This could have been my mum distraught wondering how to go on without me. It could have been my friends crying through the microphone whilst talking about all our good memories together. This could have been my older brother carrying my coffin away.
I never stopped to think about the impact that my death would have on those around me. I was in so much pain – unbearable, incomprehensible pain. I never wanted to die, I just wanted the pain to go away. I felt like I had tried everything and here I was, still fighting to get through every minute. I couldn’t continue living like that. Death felt like the only choice I had left.
Despite understanding why it is I chose to do what I did back then, and in no way blaming or judging myself for that decision – I still came home from that funeral feeling guilty. I needed to contact my parents. I needed to apologise for the distress that I put them through. For them having to fear losing me.
I tried to imagine what life would be like for those close to me if I had succeeded all those years ago. The suffering that my parents would live with for life. The reality my brothers would live with forever more. The photos my youngest brother would be shown, whilst being told about the sister he lost back when he was too young to remember. My friends falling into a heap whenever something reminded them of me. The irreparable wounds I would have left behind.
It’s just not something I thought about when I needed the pain to end. My thoughts were overridden with agony, I didn’t have the space to imagine what life would be like without me. I just needed to be free from it. I assume this how my client felt too. As taboo as it may be to say, I’m happy for him. I am happy he is no longer in pain. I understand his decision, I have been there.
My heart breaks at the same time for his loved ones. I think of them every day. I cannot even begin to comprehend what they are experiencing. This is something they will carry with them for life – and I’m so sorry, I wish I could take that pain away.
It’s funny how nine years goes by and I never stopped to think about the perspective of my loved ones, until I became that perspective myself. To all those out there that stood by me through it all – thank you. I’m not going to say I’m sorry, because I felt what I felt and there’s no shame in that. I do know though, that it wouldn’t have been easy and I love you for being there.