The choice to suicide

Suicide…it’s such a delicate subject. Apart from being difficult to talk about, it’s difficult to hear about. In the last couple of years, I have heard of a few suicides. They weren’t people I knew personally, but people I knew of. Each time I felt a deep sadness for days. I couldn’t understand it. I couldn’t understand how any one in this world could feel so alone. We’re a planet of over 7 billion people and there still exists people who feel like they have no one worth living for. Friends have tried to explain how it’s often stemmed from depression which is a chemical thing and not something everyone can control.

I still couldn’t understand. And what got me more was that these people were of sound mind. Plans were put in place weeks, sometimes months in advance. Business was tidied up, letters were written, subtle goodbyes were said. I used to think of it as a selfish act. How unfair it was for the people left behind, those picking up the pieces, always wandering what they could have done to stop the person they loved from ending their life. But I also think it takes some serious courage to make that decision, knowing how it will impact those around you.

I think about Robin Williams, the funny guy, the one who made everyone laugh, the one people looked up to and admired. I think about a girl I once met who had so many friends, pictures on Facebook at the latest party carrying the designer handbag du jour. And I couldn’t understand how these people could bring themselves to end their lives.

I recently read a really good book (I won’t tell you the name, I don’t want to spoil it for you). It was about a C5/6 quadriplegic who’d chosen to end his life. He gave his family 6 months before he requested them to assist him by taking him to Dignitas in Switzerland. They hired an upbeat positive girl to be around him in the hopes that she’d be able to change his mind. It’s a beautiful story watching their relationship unfold. As it does, I got an insight behind his choice to end his life. Prior to an accident which led him to be paralysed from the chest down, he was a slick city acquisitions manager, making lots of money, travelling to exotic destinations and having lots of sex. And then he found himself wholly dependent on other’s to lead his life. He couldn’t accept this, hence the choice to end his life. And his mother agrees to take him to Switzerland.

As a mother, my first reaction was shock. How could she agree to help him? But as the story goes along, I could sort of see why she would. All we want as parents is for our child/ren to be happy. Now, that doesn’t mean I condone suicide or that I think it is the easy way out. But I can feel empathy for someone who feels like they can’t accept the life they are living and see suicide as the only way out. I could accept it in this case, given his physical limitations (and constant ongoing medical issues), I still can’t accept or understand when it’s people who have the choice to seek help from those around them.

As I said when I started, suicide is a delicate subject, but if you have another way of seeing it, I’d love to hear your views.