"Of all the most harmful emotions I have never felt, depression must be at the top of the list. While the behaviourist in me tells me that certain types of situations, beliefs and response patterns can increase and reinforce a number of depressive behaviours, I also know that a number of psychiatric conditions, medications, brain abnormalities and chemical imbalances also can!
During my working life as a Probation Officer, I encountered a number of suicides. All died for wide and varying reasons, often known only to the person themselves, yet each held similarities that cannot be ignored by anyone wishing to understand either the act or the person committing it.
For some, it might have been their inability to control their weight, lighten their mood, come to terms with a particular affliction, live with constant pain, reconcile themselves with their sexual identity, continue experiencing a poor marital relationship or believe that they carry a sense of betrayal. Almost all people with suicidal inclinations inevitably feel to have been followed by a darkness all their life that they could not shake off. When a depressed and emotionally disturbed person takes their own life, they are effectively telling the world in the most demonstrable way that they can, 'You can't dismiss me anymore; I quit!'
One of the saddest occasions in my life was when a nephew's marriage went wrong and he finished up hanging himself in the marital abode. It was when I later discovered from my younger sister how unhappy and helpless he felt at the time that I started to realise that a person doesn't really die from suicide; they die from within a well of sadness and a position of perceived powerlessness which they perceive to have poisoned their life, and which they believe is inescapable. What often made things all the sadder was the knowledge that a few positive changes in their life, might have well changed its tragic outcome, as no person gives up a life so readily that they think worthy of keeping.
Gore Vidal, the American writer once advised, 'Write something, even if it’s just a suicide note!' Ironically, I have seen the possible impact of both the presence, along with the absence of a suicide note, after a loved one's death create great distress for the bereaved loved ones who are left behind. A Probation client who was estranged from his parents, wife and children once left me a suicide note in which he mentioned me kindly, but it nevertheless disturbed me for weeks following, that during the most dramatic moments of his life where he felt alone, that he felt he had nobody to speak his final thoughts to except myself.
During my early years as a Probation Officer in Huddersfield, I worked with a prisoner serving life for the murder of his father. His father had been a cruel man who had lived many years abusing his wife and children. Eventually, the 19-year-old son could no longer abide to see his mother physically assaulted by a drunken father repeatedly and spend most of her months covered in bruises, black eyes and other injuries. One evening when his father came home drunk and abusively aggressive again and was about to start abusing his wife and other family members, Peter could take it no longer and decided to end the matter for good. As his father was beating his mother, Peter ran to the kitchen, and upon his return, he stabbed his father through the heart with a carving knife a number of times; killing him instantly. Despite being relieved by his absence, neither mother nor siblings could forgive their son and brother for his act and never once did they visit him in prison or communicated by letter with him after he was sentenced to seven years custody Two years into his long prison sentence, Peter hanged himself in his prison cell, Even his funeral went unattended by his mother and siblings!
I also had another Probation client who'd been released from prison on parole licence. He'd been born an orphan and had been reared in Barnardo Homes until the age of 18 years. He went to prison for an offence of violence and upon his release, he eventually became a large van driver of textile goods. One New Year's Eve, after losing the love of his life, who'd mysteriously left the Halifax area without a word, he became so depressed that he drank half a bottle of whisky in his bedroom flat, during which he took a large overdose of pills. After deciding to commit suicide he started to get groggy, but then he appears to have had a change of heart. So he used what little strength he had remaining to throw a chair through his upper floor window to attract the attention of a passer-by in the street below. By the time attention was attracted and an ambulance eventually arrived on the scene, Stewart was dead!
It is a sad fact of life that leads someone towards the conclusion that nobody will take a bit of notice of them until something dramatic happens to them, and then when it's too late! The very absence and lack of success in their lives is able to bring the depressive down so low that only one course of 'control' remains open to them; to kill themselves! The Samurai warriors, members of a powerful military caste in feudal Japan, would kill themselves after shame and defeat, rather than surrender to continued life without conquest.
I know from years of working with depressive types that most improvement only comes after they can find self-respect, purpose in their life and a reason that makes them want to live. Though we cannot always win, life obliges one to try and not throw in the towel. So many people have sadly killed themselves on a Monday when they might have laughed had they hung on until Tuesday and the following Wednesday!
I would never want anyone to die for me, whatever the situation; but to live because of me and something I did, now that's a different matter! My own belief is that we are only capable of touching the soul of another when we walk on holy ground, think wholesome thoughts and speak good of all men.
I would urge anyone who is contemplating this grave act of suicide, 'When you feel like next giving up, just remember the reason why you held on so long, and you might find that the very same reasons to live are still there. Suicide doesn't end all chance of your life ever getting worse. All it achieves is that it eliminates any possibility of your life ever getting better; plus the fact that it is always the most unsatisfactory of ways to die. The pain you rid yourself of by your death does not vanish: it is carried through the lives of your loved ones until they die and robs them of all possibility of ever achieving total happiness and future fulfilment!" William Forde: February 27th, 2017.