Although anyone familiar with the lyrics of the theme to the series M*A*S*H will know that it is suggests that ‘suicide is painless’, but for many with direct experience of suicide impacting on their lives, the pain will be close to heart and will most likely be a part of the memories that will visit them every day.
My own experience of suicide is in the contemplation of it personally and dealing with the mental and emotional consequences of my father making four unsuccessful attempts to take his own life.
Following his final suicide attempt he was diagnosed with terminal cancer and was given two years to live. In an attempt to accelerate his demise he refused treatment, in the hope that it would shorten his life. The latest estimate is that he now has at least five more years as it would seem that by refusing treatment he may have ‘inadvertently’ extended his life.
His days are spent in a residential care home and they are mostly the same. He gets up, goes to the chair by the window and watches TV, he breaks for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and he also takes a cocktail of 14 different pills to keep him ‘alive’. The room is his world and he never steps outside of it. He now sits and sits, waiting to die.
As an alcoholic, I seriously considered suicide on at least three occasions. I perceived that the mental pain exceeded my ability to ‘cope’ with it and when the alcohol stopped ‘working’ I just wanted it all to stop. Ending my life seemed a tangible option, so I took the decision to ‘punch out’
I decided where and when and set off to the woodland, via two miles of public road. But it just was not to be, as en-route I was bitten on the ankle by some unseen insect and suffered a massive allergic reaction, to the point that I couldn’t walk. I was taken home to the stark reality of my life and the pain that I had caused my family by demonstrating that despite their love for me, I still wanted to leave them.
My understanding of my position was that in fact I didn’t really want to die; I just wanted the pain to stop. It has never really stopped but now I have learned to live with it and accept that the memories around it are and always will be a part of who I am.
With some help I found some peace, I hope that my father is able to do the same.