Fives Years On

At this moment five years ago, I had two living sons. In two hours from now I will not be able to type the same statement because my youngest son took his own life within that time. This decision by my son brought my family to its knees, left us shattered, confused, consumed with fear, swimming in guilt and filled with unanswered questions. We were hurtled to the brink but managed to drag ourselves back into the light, into life and continue living. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.

Five years! It seems like a lifetime in many ways. Yet in others it was only yesterday. I clearly remember my meltdown at the news, I will forever hear the screams of my mother when I had to break the news to her, I will never forget my best friend throwing up when she was told, not to forget the sobs of anguish when I told his father. How could I forget the images of the viewing? I wanted to, yet I didn’t. I needed to see him for myself, but I never ever imagined viewing his dead body. Never! And the loss of memories left me feeling defeated. My body’s attempt to help me, only made everything so much worse. It was over a year before the memories started filtering back into my mind. Then there was the fear I carried for my surviving son. Every time I heard a car pull up or the phone ring, I was certain it was the police about to give me bad news. I couldn’t sleep and when I did manage to get a few hours, I was assaulted by nightmares.

The first two years were the worst. After that things started to improve, we learned to cope and managed to continue living our lives.

Now, we miss him just as much as we did then. We will never forget his laughter, his smile, his joking about. I will always feel proud that everyone told me Barry was friendly, polite and helpful. I will always wonder what he’d be doing now if he were still with us. And I will always carry a hole in my heart that can never be filled because Barry’s death took part of me too.

Today, I feel the need to make sure other people know the signs of suicide. The information is already on this site but here it is again:

  • Loss of interest in previously pleasurable activities
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Problem behaviour and substance misuse
  • Apathy in dress and appearance, or a sudden change in weight
  • Sudden and striking personality changes
  • Withdrawal from friends and social activities
  • Increased ‘accident proneness’ and self harming behaviours

Did you know that 80% of youth tell someone of their intentions prior to taking their own life? It’s true, what should you do if you are told?

  • Listen and encourage them to talk, show that you are taking their concern seriously
  • Tell the person you care
  • Acknowledge their fears, despair or sadness
  • Provide reassurance, but do not dismiss the problem
  • Ask if they are thinking of hurting or killing themselves, and if they have a plan
  • Point out the consequences of suicide for the person and those they leave behind
  • Ensure they do not have access to lethal weapons or medications
  • Stay with the person if they are at high risk
  • Immediately tell someone else, preferably an adult
  • Get help from professionals, offer to go with them to provide support
  • Let them know where they can get other help
  • Provide contact numbers and assist them to ring if necessary

Be suicide aware and maybe you’ll save a life.

Note: The two lists in this posts are courtesy of Better Health, Victoria.

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3 thoughts on “Fives Years On

  1. Dear Karen,
    By chance, I opened your website today: a few days ago, you had to undergo this difficult anniversary. I know how hard these five years have been for you, I know how courageous your are going on with the stream of life and how it feels to live with broken heart. I know it because we experienced the same unacceptable loss, the same year than you, five years ago (but on the 8th of October).
    Reading the list of suicidal signs makes me wonder though: our son never presented any of these signs, or when he did, such as his withdrawal from friends, it wasn’t really a sign as he always kept distanced from others. What I now know about suicide is that it’s very different from one person to the other, therefore it’s so difficult to foresee and prevent it.
    How is Barry’s brother doing?
    Dear Karen, I wish you’ll find some happiness again in this challenging life and will go on courageously. Best regards from Switzerland (sorry for my English) Ewel

  2. Hi Ewel,
    Thank you for leaving a comment and I am very sorry to hear you’ve been through this too. Barry’s brother is mostly doing fine these days, except when life becomes too hard, then I worry about him and what might happen. I don’t think I’ll ever truly be free of that fear.
    Some people hide what’s going on in their head very well. We didn’t know what Barry was planning, but in hindsight there were signs…weight loss and not taking care of his appearance mainly, and throwing his things away.
    We could torture ourselves with “what if” but it will not change anything. And although I still cry for him when I’m alone, I have found a way to cope with my loss. I hope you are coping in the same way.
    kind regards,
    Karen

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