Sunday 11 September 2011

World Suicide Prevention Day

Today is world suicide prevention day. As the child of a suicide victim (?) I feel that I should say something positive or do anything to help people but to be honest I just don’t know what to say.  I have this online voice that could probably do some good if I knew how to direct it. I’m not sure I’m even at that point yet or strong enough to even talk about it out loud. It’s taken me seventeen years to be able to bring myself to write it down.

My Dad dying was rough enough but the fact that he committed suicide made it even harder. I think nowadays it’s spoken about more but it still tends to be swept under the carpet. Partly I guess because no-one knows how to deal with it or what to say. If a person dies or cancer then you say to the relatives ‘It’s so sad, but at least they are no longer in pain’ or ‘They put up a good fight’ or ‘Life is unfair’. 

When a person commits suicide nobody knows how to react. I had colleagues, friends and acquaintances that just ignored me when my Dad died. They didn’t know what to they said nothing.  (For future reference saying ‘I don’t have any idea what to say’ is a million times better than ignoring a person who’s Dad has just killed himself unexpectedly).

I spent a lot of years hating my Dad for killing himself. How dare he leave us kids and be so selfish? Throughout those years of hate eating away at me inside, many people have tried to reason with me about what could have behind it. My Dad had a tough upbringing and suffered with anxiety and depression for many years and it’s only recently that I’ve begun to understand quite how destructive a force this can be.

Knowing that anxiety and depression run through that side of my family, I’ve spent many years determined not to pander to it. When I look back over my life I can see a couple of times when I was clearly depressed but managed to hide it behind this bubbly exterior that I present to all.  In the last couple of years I’ve begun to lose the battle that I’ve always fought against this side of my personality and have succumbed to panic and anxiety attacks. I hate it about myself but can do nothing to stop it and so am learning to live with it the best I can.

A fact that only occurred to me recently was how many people were affected by my Dad’s suicide. Obviously there’s the immediate family. My brothers and I have all dealt with it in very different ways but have been hugely affected by it for almost our whole lives. As was our half Sister. It also affected the rest of the family and friends as you would expect. But what about the relationships that we’ve built since? It affects those too whether we want it to or not. It makes me so sad that by this time next year I will have spent more time apart from my Dad than with him.

Yesterday I read a blog post from a lady who’s Dad was an alcoholic. She said that she spent many years hating him for not putting enough effort into giving up the alcohol and staying sober. Why didn’t he fight harder she wondered?  As the years have gone by she’s now seeing that actually he was fighting it but just lost the battle.

I haven’t stopped thinking about that for 24 hours. What if my Dad just couldn’t fight it any longer. Maybe it isn’t a reflection on how little he loved us. Maybe he just lost the battle this time.
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