There has been a lot of discussion on this site about depression, and portions of it have inevitably touched on the topic of suicide. Most if has been ringing in my ears of late, as on Christmas morning a woman I considered family committed suicide. My father knew her since he was a child, they both moved to Australia at the same time, and she married his housemate and still-best friend. Although I hadn’t seen her in quite a few years, she was no less than an aunt, and her children no less than cousins.
My father detailed through a waterfall of tears her struggle with depression, and her inability to cope with one occurrence in particular. She was viciously assaulted by her own son-in-law, it happened in her daughter’s presence, and her own sons, both grown men, did nothing about it. For years it ate her up inside, and she turned to anti-depressants to help herself cope.
Both of my parents spoke to her on the night that she killed herself, as she sat down and telephoned everybody she loved. They said that she sounded happier than she had in a long time, and while her tone struck them as strange, they were happy to hear the smile in her voice. They joked, they laughed, and they wished one-another a Merry Christmas, and a good night.
That evening she gave all of her jewellery to her daughter, telling her only that she no longer needed it. She stayed up until after midnight with her youngest grandson, who for some reason did not want to leave her side, and once he couldn’t help but fall asleep, she put him to bed.
At 3am, also known as The Devil’s Hour, using her own shoelaces and three white hooks, she choked herself.
Our internal suffering can be so great that suicide seems like the only true release. The idea that when we take our own lives, we will find the peace that we seek, is an understandable one. Some people ease their suffering by going on a murderous rampage. Many become drug addicts. Others kill themselves.
My aunt saw no other way to ease her pain, and she didn’t do it to punish anybody; she just wanted it to end. What struck me the hardest was her failure to recognise that she had already freed herself. On Christmas Eve, when she knew she was going to die, she was happy, and it was before she took her life. BEFORE. Death did not free her of her pain. She had already freed herself hours earlier. Suicide became an unnecessary formality.
Through all of our discussion about depression and suicide, I never waver from my belief that we control our own emotions, and we entrap our own minds. Only we can free ourselves from our own suffering, and it starts not with the body, but with the spirit, and with the mind.