Suicide: A Permanent Fix to a Temporary Problem #JustTalk

I find myself yet again sadly reminded of the pain associated with learning of an individual’s death via suicide – and the effects it has on friends, colleagues, and loved ones. I don’t know why exactly, but this time the news has triggered me to consider pushing the issue even further into the public eye with #JustTalk.

Because we all still need to make further attempts to end the stigma, I’m going to demonstrate that it is safe to share, to talk, and there is no shame necessary. * May contain triggering subject matter.

Suicidal Ideation and Recognition

My first personal experience of suicide, in any context, was when I was suffering my first bout of depression. I was 20 years old, and had no real idea why I was depressed.

As with many men, young or old, to feel mentally unwell felt embarrassing and shameful. I perceived a sense of failure and the emotions were truly experienced by me as overwhelming. As with the accounts I hear, almost daily in my office, I too considered driving my car into a motorway bridge. (I wanted to be careful not to cause ‘injury’ to anyone else!)

Just ‘why’ I was depressed became clear only as I matured and had gained greater insight into my life narrative; the traumas and conditioning by caregivers and ‘educators’. Talking to my doctor – and then a counsellor – helped me navigate through that episode.

As a Paramedic and Counsellor

During my career as a paramedic, attending complete and incomplete suicide attempts were ‘part of the job’. Some of us became somewhat hardened to the exposure of such tragedies whilst others didn’t. Then after studying mental health and becoming a counsellor in the years after my paramedic career…

[bctt tweet=”I considered even more, just what suicide meant for those who consider this permanent action – to an otherwise temporary state. #suicideawareness #JustTalk ” username=”BobBrotchie”]

Like you and I, people don’t always outwardly show how desperate they can be within a very short period of apparently usual behaviours. People feeling overwhelmed, and perhaps suicidal, DO NOT always look unwell!

 

I learned that two main beliefs are usually present; firstly, a desire to ‘find peace’ and secondly, a need to no longer feel a ‘burden’. However, these are both ideas, or perceptions, because there is no reality to either reason

  • To ‘find peace’, we would have to know this – after our demise!
  • To reduce the ‘burden’ to others… Well, there is ALWAYS someone who believes we are worthy, of value and have a purpose. There is always someone who loves or cares about us in some way.

[bctt tweet=”Whether or not we are a burden, is for others to think about – not us! #suicideawareness #JustTalk” username=”BobBrotchie”]

After a second short but powerful moment of suicidal ideation following the separation from my first two sons and my first wife, I now realise (upon reflection) that the emotions I was experiencing were so devastatingly powerful, that suicide felt a sensible solution to what I now appreciate was a temporary state. Luckily, my estranged wife recognised the change in my demeanour and encouraged me to talk. She wouldn’t necessarily know this but she may well have saved my life that day.

[bctt tweet=”There are two fundamentals – emotional overwhelm and a search to escape what is actually a temporary state. #suicideawareness #JustTalk ” username=”BobBrotchie”]

Letting Go or Finding Peace

Talking to those I attended and subsequently met, about their suicidal ideation or incomplete attempt, almost all stated that just prior to carrying out their ‘plan’, they felt at peace. They had, it seems, let go or let be what was troubling them so desperately!

So, I asked, “Why did you not stop at that point?

Horrifyingly, could it be because the social exposure and conditioning around what suicide is supposed to be, seems to say… “If you’re going to carry it out, carry it out!“?

 

So, I invite anyone who should ever find themselves contemplating suicide… be aware that you can ‘let go’ or ‘let be’ – AND then reorganise your thinking and beliefs around just what seems to be overwhelming, and what isn’t.

 

You are not your overwhelm, thoughts, or emotions.

In sharing personal episodes from my past, I hope to encourage a movement for any others who have considered suicide, no matter how deeply, to share. #JustTalk… Why? Because my peers and I are always saying there need not be stigma attached to suicide.

As a counsellor, some realise that many of ‘us’ have walked the fires and have been broken. BUT in learning to find a level of peace, acceptable for living with less suffering, we would wish to share this ‘gift’ with those still on the path as it’s these emotional scars that make us more resilient today.

[bctt tweet=”Feeling suicidal is not a failure; there is no need to commit to the ideation, because we are not our thoughts or emotions. This is an opportunity to turn towards suffering – to talk, learn, and grow from it. #JustTalk ” username=”BobBrotchie”]

Even though some appreciate their counsellor may have experienced the very same as they have… sadly, some think ‘we’ should not have been ill – ever! Perhaps believing, that ‘we’ in the caring professions are ‘invulnerable’ – oblivious to the pains and impermanence of life. However, we have chosen to make use of the gift that suffering can provide!

There is compelling evidence, for those for who suicidal ideation becomes closer to reality, that reaching out and sharing, verbally, makes a significant and positive difference.

#JustTalk

If you feel unable to talk to loved ones or friends, you don’t even need to be at “that point” to talk to the precious volunteers prepared to listen to you; volunteer organisations such as the Samaritans who are there for us… for you!

Great advice and guidance can also be sought on Twitter from ZeroSuicideAlliance and remember you can always check in with your doctor. Added to this, you can consider a trusted counsellor to gain the skills for dealing with those most powerful beliefs, emotions and behaviours arising from the situation you find yourself in.

About the author
Bob Brotchie
Counsellor and Founder at | Personal Website

Bob Brotchie is a counsellor, life coach and creator of Conscious Living by Design™. He writes for Anglia Counselling, is featured on various other websites and introduces us to many guest writers all covering topics related to mental health and wellbeing.

Bob provides bespoke counselling services to clients in the privacy and comfort of a truly welcoming environment at his Anglia Counselling company office, located near Newmarket in Suffolk, England. Bob also provides professional online counselling, for local, national, and international clients. The therapeutic models offered are bespoke to the client’s needs, especially those in receipt of 'childhood emotional neglect' (CEN), whilst integrating a mindful approach to psychotherapy and cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) principles. For clients experiencing trauma and/or phobia, Bob offers EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing).

4 Comments

  1. When I was 17 I had an event in my life where suicide was an option. It was 1969 and I was homosexual. In the UK it had only been legal for those over 21 for two years. And, while I was still to scared to live my life as a homosexual teenager it was obvious to all that I was infatuated with another boy at school.

    I was outed, and badly.

    I died inside.

    I knew my parents would send me to be ‘cured’. I could not face that. Aversion therapy with electricity, or insulin shock therapy, or worse.

    That night, cycling home from school, I was choosing which truck to dive under. I was going for the rear wheels so the driver would not be able to swerve.

    There are several reasons why I didn’t. I suppose you might say that my will to live overcame my desire to die, but that seems trite. It was simpler. I wanted to see the boy I loved once more before I died.

    I arrived at home, formed a strategy to deal with my having been outed, and went to school the next day determined just to laugh it off through clenched teeth if necessary.

    And here’s the point.

    It was a one day wonder! They had enjoyed their fun and it was never mentioned again.

    I nearly killed myself over what was HUGE and turned out to be nothing.

    The event itself has affected me. It did so before I learned how to look at such events with mindful equanimity. I have been untangling the effects now for many years. I was 17 then. I am 66 today and I still can feel how it felt then however hard I apply myself to processing those feelings, but I am alive to experience them, to process them.

    Suicide was a solution, of course it was, but it would have been a pointless one. I have enjoyed almost all my life thus far, and I intend to grow old disgracefully and die by any normal means at the end of it, whenever that is.

    Back then I could not have seen a therapist. We homosexual kids were the topic of psychological experimentation. In those days experimental psychiatry was in vogue. The “It’s for your own good” school of psychiatry. I have an aunt who was subjected to ECT. For a “nervous breakdown”. I knew about ECT. I knew about aversion therapy. And my parents were the good, kind, sweet people who may well have sent me to be “cured”.

    You see, this is what I had to avoid at all costs:

    =====

    Having defined homosexuality as a pathology, psychiatrists and other doctors made bold to “treat” it.

    James Harrison, a psychologist who produced the 1992 documentary film Changing Our Minds, notes that the medical profession viewed homosexuality with such abhorrence that virtually any proposed treatment seemed defensible. Lesbians were forced to submit to hysterectomies and oestrogen injections, although it became clear that neither of these had any effect on their sexual orientation. Gay men were subjected to similar abuses.

    Changing Our Minds incorporates a film clip from the late 1940s, now slightly muddy, of a young gay man undergoing a transorbital lobotomy. We see a small device like an ice pick inserted through the eye socket, above the eyeball and into the brain. The pick is moved back and forth, reducing the prefrontal lobe to a haemorrhaging pulp.

    Harris’s documentary also includes a grainy black-and-white clip from a 1950s educational film produced by the U.S. Navy. A gay man lies in a hospital bed. Doctors strap him down and attach electrodes to his head. “We’re going to help you get better,” says a male voice in the background. When the power is turned on, the body of the gay man jerks violently, and he begins to scream. Doctors also tried castration and various kinds of aversion therapy. None of these could be shown to change the sexual orientation of the people involved.

    =====

    If you search Youtube for the phrase “Changing Our Minds: The Story of Dr. Evelyn Hooker Clip” you will see more than you want to about what we did to homosexual people back then.

    That was a strong fear I overcame that day, and it never happened to me. I meant to end on an upbeat note. I think the upbeat is that I chose life, and life has been good fun. It’s been far better than being dead.

      • I half wanted to link to the video, but the scenes it shows are horrendous, terrifying. The woman featured in it was instrumental is moving the medical profession towards good sense and good judgement by revealing these abhorrent practices, but it still terrifies me.

        Fear is a useful emotion. Despair, not so much. That day I was afraid, but I was not completely in despair. Fear in many forms kept me alive, and that is why I posted the comment. If you are afraid, use the fear positively, and ensure it makes a positive difference in your life.

        I had no idea I was doing that, but I did.

        Oh, I can still feel that self same fear today, just by reliving the awful afternoon. And it’s ok. I’m content to be able to feel it. I use it to change myself and those who surround me.

    • I want to turn to the concept of finding peace. I never quite made the attempt, not quite, so never (does one *really* say “failed’?) came quite close enough to know that I would have found peace just before the rear wheels of the truck crushed me.

      What I know is that peace is not what I found when I chose not to continue.

      I found instead a determination to deal with the thing that had caused me to choose (almost) to die.

      I was not looking for peace. And, importantly, though I had been bullied that afternoon, the perpetrator had no idea he had bullied me almost into my own death. It was not as we hear in the news today of kids telling the queer kid to kill him or herself. It was my feeling that I had only one way to stop my then current and then future anguish.

      Put plain, no-one would have been able to hurt me again, had I achieved what I had determined in my panic was my goal.

      In my life I have been hurt. Sometimes it was very unpleasant. More than once it was unpleasant enough to wonder why I had stayed alive, but there was always enough in my mind telling me that I would get past it.

      I have not toyed with suicide for many years. I have removed negative people from my life. Where I encounter one I remind myself that I am significant to myself, and they are not. And I put them quietly aside. I have no wish to die before ordinary circumstances create my death.

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Suicide: A Permanent Fix to a Temporary Problem #JustTalk

by Bob Brotchie time to read: 4 min
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