Recently someone who meant a lot to my family, took her own life in a very dramatic way. A young single mum who, in our minds, had everything to live for. Besides her little girl, there was only one other family member that we knew of, so she became a well-loved part of our family.
She was my oldest granddaughter’s best friend. Her life seemed settled and ordinary — her daughter, her friends, her work. She’d fought some almost overwhelming odds to get that far, including leaving a very abusive relationship. Her friends stood by her and she stood by them. She had professional help to assist her in moving on from her past. In fact, she was almost a ‘poster girl’ for those who were stuck in similar seemingly hopeless situations.
Then one Saturday night, for reasons we will never know, she deliberately ended her time on this earth. No note, no messages, no hint of anything amiss. She had taken no drugs nor alcohol. Despite desperate attempts in ICU at a large hospital, there was no hope of recovery.
One positive is that she was an organ donor. There are some eternally grateful recipients, and their families, out there thankful for an anonymous donor.
You can ask, and many of us do, ‘Are you okay?’ but most would answer ‘Yes’ — even if they are not.
And if someone did say no, what would you do? Holding their hand, hugging them, promising to always be there, isn’t always enough. If someone’s mind is saying ‘it’s all too much, I can’t do this anymore’, there is no flashing red light on their forehead alerting the rest of the world to their pain.
I haven’t spoken to many people outside of our circle of close family and friends, but I feel compelled to try and say that, sometimes, there is nothing that could have stopped her and others like her. I read reports that ‘the government’ should be implementing more programs aimed at suicide prevention. But really, I don’t know that you’d even start to identify those who are so vulnerable.
There were no outward signs that our friend was so sad. I spent that very afternoon with her and my granddaughter just laughing and talking about ordinary everyday stuff. If I’d asked her that afternoon ‘Are you okay?’, I’m sure she would’ve said “I sure am!”
My point in writing this? I’m not really sure. We have an annual ‘R U OK? Day’ so we all ask our friends, usually via electronic media such as Facebook, and add pretty love hearts etc. to our messages. I’m not really sure how many of us take it seriously.
Maybe just tell your family, your friends, even your pets, that you love them. Continually. Spread the love, as we used to say in my hippie days. Recreate that warm loving feeling within yourself and then spread it wide and far. And may my beautiful, much-loved friend fly high with the angels.
If you or anyone you know needs help: Lifeline — 13 11 14; MensLine Australia — 1300 789 978; BeyondBlue — 1300 224 636; Suicide Call Back Service — 1300 659 467; Headspace — 1800 650 890; Kids Helpline — 1800 551 800; SANE Australia Helpline — 1800 187 263