In my last book, Dare to Breathe, I decided to tackle the issue of depression. I did this because at the beginning of last year we suddenly lost a friend to depression. He gave us no warnings, just took his own life. It was devastating for us and the key questions we had going round and round in our heads were, “Why didn’t he talk to us?” “What if we had called him more or been there more for him?”
His death caused us all to really closely examine ourselves. Were we good friends? What could we have done differently? Why did he do it? The guilt we felt was overwhelming but we got through it by talking to each other, talking to the other people who loved him and realizing that none of us were to blame.
This got me thinking about what do we, the people left behind, do to get over someone’s sudden suicide? In New Zealand we have one of the highest rates of suicide in the world. It’s hard to imagine that a country like this has this hidden dark side. It’s not something that’s really shared on the travel programs.
Truth is a person who decides to kill themselves, does so for their own reasons, our own circumstances and opinions do not impact on that decision. Knowing this is a hard pill to swallow.
I hate that when you google the internet on depression and suicide there are so many voices and opinions out there all unanswered. There are hundreds and thousands of people out there who are depressed, lonely and suicidal. It’s almost like a silent debate going on that we never discuss out loud.
Advice around coping with grief is massive. Experts tell us that we need to examine our feelings, and look at our behaviors when coping after grief. They advise that we may react with physical manifestations (IE get jumpy or be highly alert). They tell us that we go through a grief process where we have to work through, carrying on with life and acknowledging the death of the person we have lost. They suggest that we talk to others, seek help and understand that the process we are going through is normal. If nothing works, they suggest that we then go and seek professional help.
Writing a story about survival and love after tragedy was my balm, my way of healing. It reminded me that we are human. We do make mistakes but that we don’t need to let those mistakes own us. We can be better people for allowing ourselves to learn from what’s happened and to let go.
I found these websites helpful and I hope you do too.