The sad suicide of policeman David Rathband two years after he was blinded by gunman Raoul Moat, once again has brought into the spotlight the subject of self determination, particularly when it is related to ending one's own life.
In my time dealing with people that have been paralysed by sudden trauma, I have only come across two people that have decided that suicide was an option open to them.
One suffered from a severe mental disorder prior to their accident and subsequent disability, and would have, I am sure, committed suicide "whatever the weather" while the other, a man who had been paralysed from the neck down for over 18 years took his own life as a result of the death of a relative and carer.
Having said this, many patients talked about suicide during their time on rehabilitation, whilst more , I am sure, contemplated the idea silently when they experienced their darker moments post injury, whether it be in hospital or at home when life was said to have "normalised".
I have a strong stance on this subject.
As long as a person is not clinically depressed and as long as they know the full facts about their abilities after the intensive rehabilitation process is completed then if they feel suicide is what they decide for themselves..then "so be it"
And this in precis form would be what I would say to patients who ventured suicidal ideas.
People who are deeply depressed cannot be objective.......
People who don't know the full facts cannot be objective either
( and before anyone shouts I know non of us can be truly objective, but we can, I think be more balanced and clear in our thinking)
Listening and accepting what people are experiencing is vital too, as just being able to say the words without experiencing a reaction of horror, shock or fear can be part of the healing process in itself.
Sometimes the acknowledgement of just how bad someone feels is just enough to allow that person to soldier on.
and "Soldier on," is what the majority of people do in fact .
Faced with huge challenges and massive changes to all parts of their daily lives, in my experience people just get on with things... they find a way of coping,
As it turns out for most of us, living is more important than the alternative.But it's not always the case.........