Saturday, 28 April 2012

A shocking death

It's always extremely shocking when someone you know kills themself. Even if you're half expecting it, even if they've made a previous attempt, the actual reality of their doing something so desperate and so final is appalling. Especially if the method used was so grisly, as it was in this case.

Alice* was an old school friend of Jenny's. They were very close when they were young and had kept in touch ever since. For the last 31 years Alice had been a diagnosed schizophrenic. There seemed to be little anyone could do for her except keep her in supported housing with carers permanently on hand.

She was always pumped full of drugs, which seemed to do little for her, and any kind of talking cure or non-drug treatment had apparently been ruled out.

Her quality of life was poor and there was no sign of it ever improving significantly. Every day was a frustrating and humiliating experience of not being able to do what she wanted to do, and relying on others who did their best to make her life more worthwhile with limited means.

Many years back she had already expressed her anguish by jumping in front of a train and losing both her legs, which meant artificial legs and greatly reduced mobility. It was hard to have a sensible, coherent conversation with her as she was often scatterbrained and agitated, possibly because of the huge cocktails of drugs she was plied with. It was sometimes hard to pin down her underlying mental state - cheerful or depressed - because she would put on a chirpy front.

But we're told she had been seriously depressed for the last nine weeks and had actually been sectioned three weeks ago - we're not sure why. Twelve days ago she went off from the hospital on her own and was found later in the grounds of a primary school, having slashed her neck with a broken bottle. She died several days later.

It's heartbreaking that someone can come into this life with such high expectations, only to endure such tragic and agonising circumstances that suicide becomes the only answer.

I can't tell you how sad I feel about such a dreadful waste of life.

* not her real name 


  1. So sorry, Nick.
    Poor, poor woman.

  2. i havent lost anyone through suicide so i dont really understand but i do genuinely feel like she was probably better off not to be here anymore and sometimes that is the only comfort we have.

    my sympathies to you and Jenny.


  3. I will continue to keep you and Jenny in my mind as you both come to terms with that news about your friend. Not an easy one!

  4. To a degree, I understand your anguish and hope that it will fade with time.

    We lost a good friend 8 years ago to suicide. I wrote about it in an early blog post not long after it happened: Who should I be angry at?

    While suicide is a "way out" for some who are suffering, the tragedy doesn't stop there.

    Three years later I wrote:

    I’m not angry any more. I just reflect on how unfortunate it all was.

    Unfortunate that she didn’t take care of herself.

    Unfortunate that the doctor wasn’t more humane in her instance.

    Unfortunate for her husband who has had a host of problems in the time that’s passed.

    Unfortunate for the poor soul that found her body.

  5. I was a psychiatric nurse for a few years before I went into general...some people have dreadfully "dark" lives with their black dogs haunting them constantly.

    their stories always make me want to kiss my loved ones that extra time ...I never do... but at least I think about doing it.
    chin up
    so sorry

  6. Scarlet - Thanks.

    Kylie - I think you're right, she's better off not enduring that frustrating existence any longer. But how awful that she had to go through it for so long.

    Grannymar - Thanks.

    Mike - I think she took care of herself as much as she could, but she didn't have any solution to her problems. She was single and didn't have a husband.

    Indeed, it must have been very traumatic for whoever found her.

  7. John - How right you are about all those people haunted by their black dogs. If they can't manage them somehow, life becomes impossible.

  8. Nick, I'm so sorry to see this.

    Poor Alice, to have felt that a broken bottle to her neck was the best thing all round.

    Condoleneces to you and Jenny.

  9. Yes, in her case the saddest part was no one could help her make life worth living.

  10. Speccy - I know, what on earth prompts someone to choose such a gruesome way out?

    Monk - Exactly. She was condemned to this hopeless fate year after year.

  11. Deepest sympathy to you and Jenny Nick.
    I've lost more than a few friends to suicide.
    And because the Black Dog has accompanied me also on my jounrey I've contemplated suicide from time to time.
    If there is anything I would tell someone who is thinking this, it is just wait. Wait because life does get better with the proper help and intervention.
    I wish Alice had got the proper care and attention she so desperately needed.
    Drugs are never the answer they are a temporary stop gap. IMHO.

  12. www - Trouble is, I think she'd already been waiting an interminable time, without ever finding a way to move forward. The sort of help and intervention she needed just never materialised.

  13. I do sympathise with her and with all who feel the need to take their own lives, we can't know how it all seems to them as thank God we have not been in their shoes.
    Suicide is always terrible for those left behind and this is a tragic and depressing story all round. I'm sorry to hear it, Nick.

  14. Jenny - I think those left behind will feel as we do that in many ways it was a merciful release as she had been so miserable for so long. In the end I think the person has to do what is right for them, whatever distress it causes others.

  15. Sad and horrible all round.
    Also very hard to help with - sometimes you can make a difference, sometimes you can't. Always worth a go of course.

  16. These stories are always shocking - for everyone concerned. I hope the poor soul who found her was OK, and that she was found before the kids arrived at school.

  17. Blackwater - Very hard to help. All Jenny could really do was keep in touch and try to keep her spirits up. There was no way her illness was ever going to be defeated.

    Macy - I think she was found later in the day, but I don't know if there were children around at the time. It must have been very traumatic for whoever stumbled on the body.

  18. I share your angst. Schizoids live lives that are unfathomable by us. Perhaps it is best that she will not suffer any more/

  19. Ramana - The illness is unfathomable but her daily life was fathomable enough - very limited and unambitious mainly. Such a contrast to her youth when her abilities promised so much.

  20. Schizophrenia is a brutal illness and for some, one that our current meds just cannot control. She sounds like a tormented soul - I guess this was her way to peace.

  21. After reading through the comments, I have to add that for psychosis, drugs are indeed the answer. There's not much other interventions can do for more severe forms of schizophrenia. But that does mean that even the best medications can necessarily help. I know people wish there was an answer to every illness, but sometimes there just is not. There's nothing fair about it, that's just the way it is.

  22. Agent - She was a tormented soul indeed, and she desperately needed to find a way out. Unfortunately various combinations of drugs didn't seem to help her that much. As you say, there's nothing fair about it.

  23. Poor Alice. Rest in Peace now

  24. Oh Nick, that's so awful. I really don't know what to say other than sometimes perhaps we should make it a little easier for people. Anyone who has the desperation to jump in front of a train, clearly needs constant supervision and assistance. I'm so sorry

  25. Myra - She was a Christian so she would have believed just that - that she would find peace.

    Baino - I guess the first suicide attempt was so long ago she wasn't thought to be a serious suicide risk any longer. Certainly she hadn't suggested it to us in the recent past.

  26. This is so heartbreaking to read about. I cannot imagine a life so joyless that death seems preferable. I'm very sorry for Jenny's loss of her old friend, and for all the sorrow this poor woman experienced.