Thursday, 4 June 2015

When Somebody You Love Wants To Kill Themselves.


I'm not entirely sure how or why you've stumbled across this piece, but you have. It might be the most important thing you ever read, so listen up. Listen to my sad, broken voice of experience. It's a bit heavy, but that's ok! Heavy exists. Let's not ignore it. Heavy is needed, sometimes.

There's a lot of people in the world who would like to take themselves out of the world. Kill themselves. Suicide. For whatever reason - there's a whole HOST of reasons. I have a belief the biggest reason is that life is just HARD. So hard, and confusing, and tiring. We try and be part of things and keep up and look at other people living somewhat seamlessly and we're all, what's wrong with me?

These words are not aimed at people who want to die - sorry you guys, there's heaps of literature and help out there for you. This is directly aimed at the people who are desperately, crazily worried about the people they're witnessing going down, down to the nether where all hope is lost.

So what can we do, to try and make the people we love so much just STAY when they want to take themselves away? And why am I such an expert at this? Well, my younger brother who I loved more than life itself killed himself in October 2013. Only a year a bit ago. Some days swallow me whole and I am in hell's furnace. Other days are manageable. Every day is hard. Every, every day. My brothers name was Cameron - isn't that a beautiful name? I feel complicit in his death. I feel a lot of blame. I feel emotions that have no name. And I have written here on the site many times about the aftermath of his death and it has been ugly and messy and just too much.

To this day I receive emails from people who are terrified that their people are going to kill themselves. Mothers, fathers, cousins, sons, daughters - sisters. Just last week I got an email from a very caring sister so desperately concerned that her brother will suicide. She felt bad for asking me, but I answered her. Just like I answer all the other worried emails I get from people trying to help save their loved ones.

So here's some tips that I have learnt, all the things I would have done - SHOULD have done, to keep my beautiful Cam alive even though he was so intent on taking himself away.

1) Don't keep the secret.

For years my brother talked to me of suicide. But not all the time! Sometimes he was even *happy* and content, living his life and working and having a great woman by his side. But often - many, many times, he would call me up out of the blue and we'd talk for two, three hours straight. He was DOWN. He was FUCKED UP. He wasn't sleeping - sometimes he wouldn't sleep for two or three days straight. How could I not hear those warning bells? If a person does not sleep for that amount of time, they're bordering on psychosis. He refused drugs or therapy. I was his only lifeline.

2) Do not be the persons only lifeline.

You do not have the power just by yourself to keep somebody alive. I thought I did. I was wrong. MAKE them get help. MAKE them go on some kind of meds, even if it's just the short term, to calm them down or help them sleep. Tell other trusted people that know the person ... so you are not battling this alone. It was a hard, lonely battle for me. I lost. I lost.

(And speaking of Lifeline - well, it's not for everyone. Just saying. Keep searching for a helpful place that fits. You will find one.)

3) Research everything you can.

Present your loved one with a host of things they can do. My brother shunned therapy until the week before he died. He finally saw a psychiatrist. But by then it was too late, and he never went back. I have an irrational anger towards that psychiatrist .. she knows he killed himself. I wonder if she ever thinks about him? Therapy alone cannot save somebody. I think it's a mixture of meds, counselling, cutting through the denial, and the biggest one of all ......


Go to them. Sleep at their house. Pop popcorn. Stay up until 4am watching Bill Murray movies. Laugh. Lay down on the floor and rest your legs up on the wall and shoot the shit - talk about how stupid life is but isn't it a relief that it will end of its own accord anyway? Being an incredibly suicidal person myself, this knowledge gives me great relief. Life will end one day. Why not just live it anyway, not take it so seriously, see what happens? Stay with your person - for a week, two weeks. Put your whole life on hold. Commune with them. Eat burgers. Just be, together. There is enormous power in that.

5) Ask other peoples advice.

What would they do? How can they help too, surreptitiously? In the last week of my brothers life I went behind his back and told people and man he would have been furious and shitty at me - and he would have stopped talking to me. I liked that he told me everything. I felt honoured. He felt his secret was safe with me - mostly it was. But it shouldn't have been.

I wish I got my Cam committed into the mental health ward of his local hospital. I don't care if he had hated me - and to be quite frank, in the state he was in, he may very well have talked his way out and gone and locked the door of his flat and killed himself anyway. But you know what? He might not have. He might not have! And the pain of living with that every day of my life always eats me up and spits me out. It's dreadful.

See, all the advice I have is geared towards the people doing everything and anything they can to keep their loved one alive. So that if the very worst does happen, they KNOW they did everything they could. I did not do everything I could. I should have told my mum, told extended members of my family, told the whole fucking world. But I didn't. Oh. Oh!

I used to be full of bravado and say yeah I got regrets and if you don't have regrets then you're not really living properly. But this regret, this is the most painfully sharp insidious awful thing to live with, day in and day out. I didn't save my brother.

So, people who love people who want to die - do everything and anything you can. For your own sake. Don't end up like me, with the worst case of what-ifs this planet has ever known.

I loved my brother like I love my sons. I wail. I collapse. I hurt. I am fucking annihilated by such extraordinary pain of his absence, which is quite selfish but not really. He coulda been a contender. He could have lived an extraordinary life. He was an extraordinary guy ... he just did not know how to get out of himself, break free. This is where the murky world of showoffs on social media REALLY shit me. I appreciate people who are real and tell it like it is, not people who constantly showcase their life like a goddamn magazine. We're humans - flawed and hopeless and full of shit. Own that. Get real. Because the false image you portray to the world can be very, very damaging.

Good luck, dear worried people. Email me if you want - I don't mind one bit. If I even have a teeny part of helping somebody not die today, well ... what a gift.

You'll notice I didn't call this post "What To Do When Somebody You Love Wants To Kill Themselves." Because really ... I failed at that. The biggest failure of my life and I'll wrestle it like a crocodile always.

I will miss my brother to the end of the earth to the end of my life and I cannot believe he is gone. I'm trying so hard to stay here, make him proud, be a good mother to my boys. But I never knew such a pain as this and I would not wish it on anybody. So good luck. Go well. Hold your people close. Just love them .. love them very hard.

                                Beautiful Cam. 1980-2013 Loved and missed by so many people.

Hold on, darlings. Hold on.

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