As I write this there has already been, on average, six deaths by suicide today. There will be, on average, six more before the day is out and the likelihood is that you’ll hear nothing about any of them.
World Suicide Prevention Day intimates, to me at least, that all suicides are preventable and that you will always know when someone is contemplating suicide. They aren’t and you won’t.
The increasingly narrative verdict (which describes the circumstances that lead towards a death but don’t necessarily declare if the death was Misadventure, Accidental Death or Suicide) used by Coroners in the UK (which is where I am) does nothing to realistically comfort the families and/or friends left behind because they are left with nowhere to go to understand what has happened and, in a way, adds a layer of shame to the act of suicide.
There are lots of people who would still be alive today if there had been informed intervention but equally there would be a lot of people who wouldn’t be alive today.
Not knowing that somebody was feeling suicidal isn’t necessary your fault but somehow there is inferred guilt if it hasn’t been spotted and you haven’t intervened in a meaningful way. Mental health professionals should be able to see the signs and act upon them but family and friends don’t always see the signs.
If you’re a family that has seen the signs and have been let down by mental health professionals and your loved person has committed suicide then you have every reason to feel betrayed and bloody angry.
Having said that there will always be that one person who cannot be prevented from ending their life no matter how good their psychiatrist, community psychiatric nurse, social work etc.is. No matter how hard this feels to read it is important to know that for some people their death is the only answer. This is NOT your fault, truly.
Spontaneous suicides are far more likely to succeed than planned suicides because they are just so unexpected and they are usually done in a manner that guarantees success. This is NOT your fault.
Too often I have heard and seen that the family believes that X could not have been suicidal because they’d know and they would have prevented in. No, they wouldn’t and they couldn’t necessarily stopped them. Guilt as part of grieving process is natural but we have to let people know in no uncertain terms that suicide isn’t always stoppable.
People with planned suicide in mind often brighten up in the few days leading up to their attempt. This can make the family and friends feel that their lovely person is coming back to them and that they are moving back to their normality.
When you’re depressed and realise that there is a solution, that you can literally take yourself out of the world of mental illness then there is a huge feeling of relief. Planning for that can make you feel happy.
One person I know said when she woke from an overdose and realised that she was in hospital and alive she was incredibly angry because she had been stopped from obtaining her eternal relief.
Most of you will not know of the times when someone commits suicide yet didn’t want to die.
I have ultra manic storms in my head that go on for up to 90 minutes at a time. During this time the pain is unbearable and I feel that the only way I can stop the episode is to die. It is not something I want to live through again but I will. If I ever have one of these episodes and I am found dead after it it is not because I wanted to die it is because I want to stop the feeling, that my head forced myself into killing myself. Our brains are very sophisticated but they are also very stupid.
Not all suicdes are about wanting to die. Not all suicides are preventable.