Stephen Fry recently talked about his suicide attempt in 2012; receiving praise for helping remove the stigma of this expression of deep disturbance, an expression that causes further pain and trauma in those that knew and/or cared about someone who ended their life in this way.
To an extent I feel it is impossible to fully remove stigma from an event that has such huge emotions causing and stemming from it, although I completely disagree with the way the Catholic Church used to bury suicides in no man’s land or if the family were stalwarts of their local church, perhaps covering up the genuine cause of death.
In my teens I attended the Catholic funeral of a dear friend who had hung himself. I was disgusted at the fables that were constructed around my friend’s life and death, so that his body may have been buried in consecrated ground.
In my older years, I am more sympathetic to the construct of lies that the family found necessary in order to cope with their grief, suffering and probably guilt and confusion.
If one’s spirituality creates a belief in another world or other worlds’, these seismic waves of pain and despair both by the suicide and those that loved them, would create terrible stains and tears between the worlds.
In my teens and early twenties I made several attempts to kill myself.
They were deliberate and very measured; one was by cutting my wrists, one by overdose and another by attempting to starve myself to death. They were not a cry for help, but a way of trying to finish an existence that was too painful, and too confusing to continue.
I was too deeply trapped in my own reality to see the effects these attempts had on those I loved. Years later I realised that afterwards, those that cared about me hadn’t stopped feeling for me, but some aspect of love had been switched off and buried in the name of their personal emotional survival, and it took many years for me to rebuild the trust in those relationships.
In my later life, when thoughts of suicide came to me, they would often start snowballing into compulsive and obsessive cycles of thought and I was lucky enough to have been able to train myself to realise that this was a time to go to a doctor, and get help.
I have lost many friends to suicide and still carry shadows of guilt, anger and confusion about their deaths; although my own experiences should have proved that when someone is trapped in that insular world, there is only so much one can do and that it is rarely anything to do with you or your behaviour, it is about them.
I have friends who had notes left for them by someone who had killed themselves, in which blame was laid for their death; a friend who had to cut down the hanging body of her husband; and others who have called ambulances to take away bodies of loved ones.
Those people never recovered.
I watched the Stephen Fry interview where he talked of this recent attempt, and cynic though I am about celebrity endorsements of mental illness, I believe that he said brave and true things. Things that may well give solace to those that love the mentally and emotionally tortured who attempt or commit suicide, as well as those who live but constantly battle the demons that exhort one to escape from this world.