Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Suicide Isn't Painless

Has anyone out there seen or know the significance of this tattoo? The chances are that you may not have, but I suspect that you may well do in the short term future, for the semi colon tattoo is a statement of life  over suicide .
Where as an author may use the semi colon when they do not want to end a sentence when they could have, the semi colon tattoo represents a life which could have been ended because of depression, heart ache, mental illness or grief but hasn't. 
It's a very visual sign of hope and solidarity. 

I have very strong feelings about suicide. 
I believe that, the majority of people that suffer from suicidal intentions can be helped in some way, whether that be with talking interventions, medical care, warmth, support, appropriate problem solving or just time, but I also believe that for some the autonomy of suicide is a course of action which may be right for them. 

Years ago now , I was responsible for the overall care of an actively suicidal patient who had been partially paralysed in a failed suicide attempt. She was a bright,professional woman with a history of depression and unhappiness as long as your arm and from day one on my ward she tried to seriously self harm herself on a daily if not hourly basis. 

We nursed her on a mattress on the floor because she tried to throw herself out of bed face first. We supervised her 24/7 under inadequate support from the psychiatric services and we fought for weeks to get her the mental health care that she needed after she was sectioned under the mental health act.

Weeks passed into months and our care kept the woman safe. She was treated medically for her depression. She was supported by a multi disciplinary team that cared for her and she was taught to look after herself in a wheelchair.
The only thing we couldn't do was to cure her innate unhappiness.
A year after her admission to our unit , the psychiatrist involved in her care, finally took the decision to reduce the level of her supervision. This decision was not taken lightly , and I am now sure that it was a response to the fact that everything that could have been done had been done for her. Her family, her nurses, her physio and occupational therapy staff all agreed with her request to be given  a little more space.

A few hours after the supervision had been reduced, the woman took herself into the car park. She lay down between two cars and put a plastic bag over her head. 
It was what she wanted to do.

****************************************************************************

Ok I feel a need to change the subject., so I shall leave you with the latest entry in the International Novelty Veg competition.....



102 comments:

  1. I live with a partner who has tried and failed several times over the years , theres not much help in rural lincolnshire and everyday i have to live with the guilt that comes with trying to keep alive someone who doesnt choose this life ....im certain im more mad than he is by now

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    1. A big Yorkshire hug for you Kate. How arduous it must have been.

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    2. I think your comment kate perfectly underlines the pressure family members have to deal with....thank you for sharing

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  2. I suppose by its very definition, suicide is an extremely selfish thing to do. I have never really been depressed, so I will never understand the way people who are can act so selfishly and ignore the fall-out.

    Meanwhile, I think the courgettes rely too heavily on plastic eyeballs, but who am I to judge?

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    1. You can do anything with a plastic eyeball.

      When my P got to the point of suicide he was in no frame of mind to think rationally about anything let alone the fall out. I don't understand it either.

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    2. I think there is a fine line between illness and unhappiness
      Illnesses can be treated... Sometimes unhappiness just lingers..... Where one starts and the other ends who knows

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    3. Eating ice cream when you are overweight and diabetic can be viewed as a selfish act. Suicide is the ultimate last desperate act of a mentally ill person. Selfish? Maybe...but who of us aren't selfish in any number of other ways that are harmful to ourselves?

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  3. P was saved from suicide not by me because I could not cope with it. I was useless and would be again, I know it. Maybe I was just too close to him to cope with saving him. P was saved by the staff of the mental health clinic where he was an in patient for 3 months. Without their care and support and cookery classes and patience and talking to him I don't know where he would be now. He explained it to me once but never talks about it now, but he said his whole world was black and there seemed no point in living. If it is difficult for him now he never shows it. I fear the slightest change in his moods though.

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    1. Perfectly explained too rachel....

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    2. Mental health care does wonders. I've lived my entire life with a depressed mother with suicidal wishes. Only in summer or after ECT do we see the funny, caring woman more than occationally. Meeting each suicide threat with allowance rather than restraint makes a great difference for us. She's past 80 now but we still crinch with each mood swing.

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    3. Thanks John for bringing it up and thanks to Rachel and all for sharing.

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    4. I would add that at no time has P ever been depressed in the normal understanding of the word, and he does not suffer from depression at all but he does suffer some form of mental illness which is controlled by medication and I look at it as a physical thing and he is like a car and needs his levels topped up each day. It also makes it easier to talk about this way.

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  4. no words, john, no words. :(

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  5. what a sad story, but it does make you think.......

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    1. I kind of like the semi colon tattoo. It underlines that survival and living with suicide ideas is possible

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  6. I have never been that depressed....everyone gets sad sometimes but suicide is as they say a permanent solution to a temporary problem. But the darkness of never coming to grips is heart breaking.
    LOVE the choir!

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    1. Yes blatent favouritism

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  7. I do agree that sometimes a person is so desperately unhappy that suicide is the only rational solution, and any amount of "help" will have little impact. People only say suicide is selfish because they're considering the effects on them personally. The person concerned is beyond selfishness, they only want an end to the unbearable agony and misery they're experiencing.

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    1. Nail hit on the head nick

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  8. Thank you for sharing the woman's sad story.

    Regarding punctuation marks as tattoos, I think I will go for a very small question mark on the sole of my foot where nobody will be able to see it. Translated, the little question mark will mean "What's it all about Alfie?"

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    1. The coroner will be intrigued

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  9. I had a similar experience with a friend whose first attempt was with a bottle of aspirin. Afterwards.while he was in therapy, I asked him about his family and he said "they'd all be better off without me." A few months later he succeeded and when I talked to his wife she said "well, we don't have to worry anymore." I don't understand why someone would want to commit suicide, nor do I understand the worry and fear their families go through on a daily basis.

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    1. The bleakness is something few of us may understand dave....
      Someone once explained it to be in the following way
      " imagine being in a dark, dark pit, the sky is not blue , but grey and you can only see a little circle of it far far away.
      You cannot hear of feel wthe warm words of family and friends, just your angry sad thoughts.......and you are tired of crying"

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    2. The black pit is my description too, my 'best' friend doesn't get it.
      My son was hospitalised for suicidal ideation for a month, it saved him, but now those mental health wards have been closed in our local hospital. He is well now and a carer for adults with epilepsy etc, I am extremely proud of him.
      For myself, I am strong and will not give in for my children's sakes.
      x

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    3. In my experience it is often the love of family that saves people

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  10. You can help and try, but eventually some people's decision will come to the fore. Such a way out is not something I seriously consider, but I can understand it as an alternative to being here.

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  11. Sad story........ They only see one way out.... very hard to help them see the other doors.
    There is a recent positive story about the 'Find Mike' campaign by a young lad who was stopped from jumping off a bridge by a man called Mike. There is a programme about his story..... very touching 💙

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    1. Just looked it up as i knew nothing about the story...amazing
      See
      http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/news/finding-mike-film-reallife-story-of-jonny-benjamins-search-for-stranger-who-stopped-him-committing-suicide-could-be-turned-into-movie-10179678.html

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  12. Suicide has touched my family and the families of some good friends. I can't agree that it is a selfish act and will never buy into that. It is a desperate act. In all 4 cases mentioned above, there were no obvious signs, no therapy, no treatment, which has left huge "what if's" and "if only's) Such darkness and pain leading to suicide must be horrific to endure. I try to look at it that my loved one is no longer suffering. I'll never understand it, but it hurts me more to think of them in such pain.

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    1. Chania, forgive me for bringing the subject up again.. I have just realised that I have posted the story before and that you commented before

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    2. Don't apologize John. It is a conversation that everyone needs to have. We can't be silent about it. At my family member funeral the person that did the eulogy stood right up and addressed the elephant in the room (his words). He used the word, he didn;t hide what happened.

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    3. How wonderful and brave of him chania.....i hope people supported that person x

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  13. When suffering is so horrible that the only answer seems to be death...
    Well. I don't know.
    But I do know that sometimes it is.

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  14. And the surviving family and loved one's frequently don't talk about what happened. We all know a co-worker's sibling died suddenly a few year's ago, but only vague whispers of suicide. A death that dare not say it's name.

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    1. Sometimes the worst thing about suicide is the survivor guilt

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  15. Life, however precious, is not for everyone. While I agree people should have all the help available to them, if this doesn't work then why should society condemn them to a life of fighting demons? This lady obviously, really didn't want to be here. To force her to stay would be holding her captive. She found peace.

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    1. I couldn't agree more. Thanks for this.

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    2. This may seem crass, but why not offer suicides a way to "depart" and counseling to those left behind? I always find it madness that euthanizing a suffering animal is okay, but not a human who does not want to suffer through ALS or brain cancer or maybe just life in general. People tie it to the Bible, "suicides go to hell" and all that bullshit, but quite frankly I think it boils down to our own fear of death and the unknown. It is horrible to love a loved one, but to watch someone suffer is way worse to me and I have been through it enough to say if someone chooses to end their time here, as much as it may hurt, it is their choice.

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    3. should be LOSE a loved one. It is not horrible to love a loved one...damn typing too fast

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    4. I agree whole heartedly. It's always the people left behind who have the problem with suicide - I see them as the selfish ones.

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  16. Having been twice in the care of the NHS crisis team, I only have one thing to say;
    They saved my life twice.
    I will never be able to articulate the gratitude I feel.

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    1. I loved this post as painful as it probably was to post it.
      It shows that intervention does work

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    2. It was difficult John, But I made a promise to myself that I would never hide this illness, Partly to thank the people who helped me deal with it, and partly to encourage people who no longer understand their life, That there IS help to be found.
      Sometimes just talking can help you find the free end of the huge knotted ball of wool your life has become. and that becomes the starting point to unwinding the ball and re-knitting it into something beautiful.
      Three years down the line I'm still here and LOVE my life. I have bad days (and weeks) but I have been taught how to deal with them by the mental health team. I thank them x

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  17. I don't agree with the statement that suicide is a selfish act. It is selfish only by the fact that, yes, the person doing it is doing it to himself/herself. Some people do it because they see all the misery they are causing others......this would make it a 'selfless' act in my books.
    My brother committed suicide when he was 19 years old. All the 'signs' were there for years before that but no one was there to recognize them. He had tried a couple of times before he succeeded. The third time he was successful. It was very well planned.

    My mother also attempted suicide a few times. She was depressed most of her life. She managed to live till she was 87 years old. To say that she had a good and happy life would be inaccurate indeed. She was mostly unhappy and never wanted to live.

    I have no problem at all if this is what people choose to do. Yes, a few may be rehabilitated. But unless you have witnessed first hand what this can do to an individual and family, you may change your mind and see that this is the only way out for some. The daily pain and suffering that my brother and mother lived with was at times unbearable. They are a peace now. And the day my mother died that peace was almost palpable.

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    1. Thank you jimbo for that comment....some people are just not equipped to cope and live a happy life perhaps your mom was just one of those people

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  18. I knew someone in college who hanged himself. He was roommates with a good friend. Two other very good friends found him and I will never, ever forget their screams or the date, December 4.
    The grief and pain in those that loved him was heartbreaking. Were there signs? Yes. But I have always believed when someone really wants to die, there is not too much you can do accept love them and hope they do not suffer anymore.
    Your story touched a nerve John and I think we will see that in the comments. Thank you.

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    1. Yes....i thought there would be an interesting response

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  19. I find it brave for you to state so firmly that suicide can be a legitimate option. Especially in our youth-obsessed culture over here, the concept of being ok with death is akin to spitting in your mother's face. (Or perhaps spitting on a soldier, because judging by popular media, mothers are neglectful or abusive, and the military is sacred.) Perhaps if we allowed that conversation to occur, there would be fewer traumatic discoveries by loved ones in the aftermath.

    As to the veg entry...blatant pandering, I call it! Harumph.

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    1. Working at Samaritans has defined what I think too as although Sams will and do work very hard in trying to turn people away from a suicidal act, they also have the capacity to respect people' s autonomy

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  20. An awfully sad story, have you mentioned it before or something similar? A friends child committed suicide several years back - an adult child may I add, the completely overwhelming sadness & blackness that person must have felt to take their life is something I think about to this day. I'd love to think that there are some souls out there that have been saved. My dad voluntarily committed himself to a mental health unit nearly two years ago under the pretence of suicidal thoughts, it's not something I've been able to forgive him for. I've seen how ill the in patients are & how hard the staff work there. A sad story you posted John & some equally sad replies x

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    1. Yes, forgive me , i probably have told the story before.. I am getting to an age where I forget what I have said

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  21. "It was what she wanted to do" Those simple words have left me speechless.

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  22. I had an aunt who committed suicide; strangely it was prompted by some careless remarks made by the psychiatrist who was treating her husband (my uncle).

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    1. I would be interested to hear if the story if you would be ok to share it?

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    2. I wrote about it under the title 'suicide'. I've just been back to look at it and noticed that you'd left a comment.

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  23. think it is the same as everything else - there are differing degrees of depression and hopelessness, and at the far end of that spectrum are those who should be able to end their lives if they choose. The question is always Are they at that end of the spectrum? Can a younger person know that? Should people have to go through a period of time and all therapies before they can be given freedom to choose? Hard questions.

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  24. Teenage / young adult suicide is something that is on the forefront around here. I do not know what took the several young people I knew to that conclusion, but they were all troubled in their own ways. I do know that one mother has never truly recovered from her son throwing himself in front of a car, nor did the driver of the car. I cannot imagine what hell the woman you referred to went through and I certainly wouldn't judge her act as selfish or not because I haven't lived her life. What a moving, powerful post you wrote. I feel like hugging my children right now. -Jenn

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  25. It may sound odd, but to me having the option of suicide is a little lifeline of hope for some people. These are the people who can hang on through a temporary depression by telling themselves "if it gets worse, I can always kill myself." Not to be confused with the longterm/permanent pit of despair like the young woman whose story you related here. Living can be worse than dying for some people, in spite of efforts and interventions to make things better.

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    1. An interesting take and one I have not thought about wilma thank you

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  26. My middle son ( now aged 35) lost 2 close friends to suicide. The first was when they were both about to go to Uni and the 2nd was 18 months later. With the first boy, the group of friends knew that he was in a bad way, and they spent hours on a saturday evening and night trying to find him. He was found hanged on a local golf course early the next morning. The 2nd one hung himself in his bedroom for his mother to find! Luckily my son and his friends were a close knit group and helped each other greatly . Tragically a couple of years after that another close friend died in a motor cycle accident…not his fault. All very sad.

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    1. How dreadul... Three losses ...almost too much to bear

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    2. This son is getting married in October so life goes on, but he will never forget I am sure! He didn't really let me in when all these tragedies happened but I knew the friends were all together so I wasn't too worried.

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  27. What a story... I struggle with this kind of thing myself, and it's really not something (for me anyway) I think of as something for others to engage me on. Something to be talked out of. It's very matter-of-0fact when I think of it.

    But I know that suicide is harder on the people around the person than it is on the person him/herself. So I'm good for today, and tomorrow, and probably through next year, too.

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  28. I think we all have a story to tell on this one x

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  29. I thought I remembered you talking about the suicidal lady a while back John and just read that you had told it before. You didn't mention about the semi colon tattoo before though - that is a new one to me. Great new veg entry of the courgette choir!

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    1. Simone was hoing to pullthe post but the semi colon stuff is , i think, important

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  30. Saw that tattoo - didn't know it stood for anything. My something new for the day. Sad story, but, after all that 'treatment', I would guess where her head was.

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  31. Unbearable pain is just that....unbearable. Few people argue that a person with an incurable painful illness should have the right to die peacefully with friends around them. But a person with chronic mental pain is supposed to bear it for everyone else? Who is the selfish one(s)?

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    1. I know there is a strong arguement which states that if someone has a severe mental illness they cannot by virtue of that illnessmake an INFORMED decision about their own mortality ..i subscribe to that... But the borders of anything like this is very grey

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  32. What a story. When I was talking with my daughter about someone we knew who had committed suicide, she said, "You can't save them all. That's the first thing I learned as a therapist."

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    1. A good way to look at it if one is to survive the profession me thinks

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  33. I consider myself a strong and happy person. But one day after the x walked out and dealing with the divorce, finding money to pay the bills 3 children at university, I was sitting on my bed and had just turned on my TV and a wave of depression/desperation hit me. It came out of nowhere and was gone in a nano second but that horrible feeling was overwhelming for that second.
    If that is what some people feel all the time it is so sad and horrible.
    Thank goodness I have never had that feeling again.

    Love the zucchini entry.
    cheers, parsnip

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    1. Gayle.......at least you can empathize , thats rare in itself

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  34. Moving post john. I have a few friends that suffer with depression and I find it tricky to know what to do or say as I'm quite an upbeat person.trying to cheer them up often makes things worse and I get the feeling that sometimes they want to be in their dark place and will be happy when they're ready.

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    1. Validation is important i think, validation of just how bad they often feel

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  35. My brother in law and sister in law were getting ready to go on a nice long trip , now that the kids were old enough to leave them alone.
    He went to work one morning and took a bottle of pills and died.
    None of them really got over it.

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    1. Did they ever find out why?

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  36. I already have a Dignity in Dyingagreement in place, authorised by both my doctor and my solicitor. I think this is important as far as I personally am concerned. As to suicide - there are certain circumstances where I would consider going to Dignitas, but it would only be after discussion with my family (but no help from them of course).

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    1. I guess twenty years ago we wouldnt be having this kind of discussion... Things are certainly moving forward pat

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  37. YES to both your perspectives about suicide. Some people can be helped, and for others that autonomy is important. Love the semi colon.
    And I don't think it is always, or even often, a selfish decision. Indeed I wonder whether keeping people who are hurting as badly as the case you mentioned aliveagainst their wishes isn't selfish.

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    1. Its how you defibe selfish me thinks eh?

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  38. My best friend's father and husband both committed suicide. I don't think I have ever gotten over the shock of it. It is sad that there are so many sick people fighting to live and some so ready to end it all.

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  39. Yes to what Wilma said. This has also been said by people who are members of right to die groups - one person told me of his friend who killed himself for fear that he would lose the physical ability to do so. If, he said, assisting suicide was legal, the friend would not have done so - at least not then. Ironic, huh - for some, at least, the "life at any cost" bandwagon actually drives people to take their own lives in fear of what they might have to suffer in the future.

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    1. Its a real can of worms, it s true....but at least the debate is allowing us all to discuss these issues

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  40. Completely off-topic. John - as they say - I saw this and thought of you - although with all the weightwatchers hard work, I'm wondering if I should be telling you about it! http://frugalityhub.co.uk/my-scotch-egg-roll-by-the-credit-crunch-cooke/

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    1. Omg...the photo!...i am in heaven!

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  41. I think it's only when you've been in that dark, dark place that you truly understand. You need to have been at the end of the road and have clawed your way back to truly understand the sadness from both sides.

    Sometimes not taking that final step is the bravest thing you can do.

    The semi colon says it all.

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    1. This final blog comment of today says it all

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  42. Bit late with my reply, was away on an impromptu anniversary adventure.
    I call it being under the concrete cloud; it's a result of things from the past and health issues/pain. By nature, I am a happy person, which is what has kept me from going under. As I get older the past fades in, how do I say it? Not in significance, perhaps... it's importance is less immediate, has less to do with who I am now.

    Health issues and pain have increased, however. My good pain days are at least a 4 on a scale of 1-10, my average days 5-6, my really bad ones are creeping closer to 9, and for longer periods of time. I am less independent and able to care for myself, my home, and my loved ones all the time. My intellect is slowly being debased, as is my judgement and emotional acuity; and I'm aware as all of it is happening.

    A family member committed suicide, without warning, when I was very young so I've seen the price paid by loved ones. Nonetheless, when the emotional and physical pain becomes too great, I will opt out... but I've also discussed it with my nearest and dearest, explaining the why's and wherefores. Anything else would be cruel, and although they aren't happy about the necessity they do understand and support me.

    I like the symbolism of the semi colon tattoo; been wanting another tattoo and that will do nicely, It will serve nicely as a reminder that my song is not yet sung, the concrete cloud hasn't crushed me, and that there is still joy to be shared - it ain't fecking over 'til the fat lady sings.

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  43. Years ago, the teenage son of one of our secretaries, broke up with his girlfriend, went home, and put a gun to his head. My daughter helped perform his autopsy. If someone had been with him to let him talk out his grief, he would be alive, married, with children and who knows what he would accomplish. His mother who I still see daily has struggled with his passing. Suicide effects everyone.

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  44. I lost my husband to suicide 18 months after we had emigrated to another continent. My children were 7yrs and 11yrs old and my 7 yr old found him hanging from a tree in our back garden. He was devoted to his children and the fact that he died at home made me realise how ill he must have been , for he would never have wanted to hurt his children. I am a nurse and have a degree in clinical psychology, and no , I didn't "see it coming" as one of my friends asked me.
    It is one of the hardest ways to lose a loved one as the survivors are left with no answers and so many questions. We were left a note, in which he said we would be better off without him. Nothing could be further from the truth. 14 yrs later , despite the fact I am in a loving relationship, when I dream , in my dreams my partner is my late husband.

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    1. Sending you a gentle hug Maude, if you'll accept it.

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    2. Maude, that must have been a difficult reply to type, thank you for sharing it.

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  45. I could wear that tattoo, but I also respect the right of someone who is suffering in whatever way, in a way that is not getting better, to end their life. I don't even get why a religion that isn't mine has the power through the law to say that I can't. It's a funny old world we've created!

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  46. I had not heard that, about the tattoo. Interesting. I think I've seen it and not known what it was.

    I think depressed and/or suicidal people should be provided with all the care we can possibly give them. But as you've pointed out, sometimes it's not enough, and when that's the case, I respect their decision to die.

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  47. I had recently read something about what that tattoo means and have friends who have thought about ending it all; another friend's brother did, and the family never saw it coming.

    I know for myself there are some things I don't want to survive and hope i'm never in the situation where death looks to be the better option.

    I don't always see suicide as a cry for help. Some people are just really and truly done with living.

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  48. This is probably my next tattoo. Thanks for your post today.

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