I have in recent times been shocked by the suicide of Chester Beddington, I was equally as shocked by Robin Williams a short time earlier. These are the suicides we hear of, there are many people who commit suicide with barely any mention at all.
I live in Bristol not too far from Clifton Suspension bridge which is a bit of a suicide hot spot, it was the site where Shirley Bassey’s daughter met her demise, also 127 people jumped to their death between 1973 and 1986 (93 male 34 female) a fairly easy search turns out another 17 people between 2008 and 2013. If my memory serves me correctly there have been 3 people this year (2017) alone.
An interesting story to come out of this little bit of research, was the story of Sarah Ann Henley, a local girl (Easton) had a blazing row with her boyfriend, then went to Clifton suspension bridge and jumped off. Miraculously, her dress acted as a parachute along with strong winds cushioned her fall. She survived with some minor injuries. Sarah Ann lived for over 50 years after this event.
A 2006 judgement by the Swiss Federal Court ruled that anyone of sound mind, irrespective of their medical condition, had a right to determine when to end their lives. Approximately 1000 people every year now go to Switzerland to end their own lives. Whilst it would seem a large portion of these people are terminally ill, it is fair to assume that some of these people are not ill.
I believe a focus on our end opposed to a focus to get there can be a life changing experience Confucius an ancient Chinese philosopher said
“We have two lives, and the second begins when we realise we only have one.”
It would seem for many a real existential crisis is required before we reach this realisation. What do I mean by an existential crisis? This could be a near death experience or illness, seeing someone from your past and seeing their aging process, the loss of someone close to you, a birthday or anniversary, estate planning or possibly even a dream.
We live in a society where we are not open and honest about our own mortality only if it is a passing joke about how old one is getting. For me I think the only thing I can safely assume is that my demise will not be traumatic for me because I will know nothing about it. I will return to the same state I did before I was born. If there is a state of consciousness after death then that is potentially a bonus. My assumption that there is not, is a wake up call in the here and now. If life is temporary I need to stand to attention and make the most of the life I have got.
Was this the thinking of Sarah Ann Henley when she jumped off the bridge? Probably not, but I wonder if this replaced her thinking when she survived it, after all she went on to live over 50 years afterwards. I believe for many who have committed suicide they have chosen a painfully permanent solution for temporary thinking. Our mental health can be so complex it would be naïve to think a whole life time can pass with out a single thought of wondering what life would be like if it wasn’t.
A real honesty is needed amongst people, life is hard, it is full of challenges, challenges of acceptance, conflict, survival. I would be lying to myself and all around me if I said that I have never wondered if death would be easier than life.
Suicide maybe the option for some and as much as that is not my call, it is not my right or anyone else’s to take that from anybody who genuinely has decided that they want to end their life. I would hope though that the people whom feel and think this way, have had real and open conversations in the past where discussions about the permanency of suicide have been made clear as well as how temporary thoughts can be and the swiftness that life can change.
I write this blog with the belief that we all aspire to be the best we can be, sometimes we get lost along the way. All we need is faith in ourselves that we can be the best we can be, sometimes a little help believing in that faith could be all that is needed when faced with thoughts of suicide.
In our society today mental health services have been stripped bare. In order to access the mental health crisis team I have known of a few occasions that accessing this service has meant people in mental health crisis having to go to A&E. We need real conversations with people hopefully before mental health crisis happens so we can be prepared for it when it does.
Do I think this blog alone will make people at the mercy of their own lives think twice, no. I would hope that it lights something up somewhere about the tragedy that is suicide. I want to just end with the message.
Suicide is forever
Thoughts are temporary
Life can change in an instant.
If anyone has been affected by suicide or indeed have suicidal thoughts, please reach out to your nearest and dearest, where that’s not possible maybe I can help, get in touch www.brighter-pathways.co.uk