Suicide Isn’t Painless

Today is a big day for me, but a sad one. I will never forget 23 November 2003 as long as I live. At about 10am, one of my close friends phoned me at work. This was unusual as we normally “talked” by email. What was going on? He went on to drop as big a bombshell as was possible. My closest friend (I’d known him for nearly 25 years) hadn’t turned up at work that morning. Two of his colleagues were concerned and called the police. When they and the police got to his flat and gained entry they found my friend dead in his living room. My first reaction was to say “you’re kidding.” Even though no one would joke about it, the news was so incredibly awful that the first reaction was to not believe it. But it was true. My friend’s mum & dad had gone to his work and told him just before he called me.

Oddly, I was really calm. I tried calling Jane but she was at work, so all I could do was leave a message to get her to call me. Then I called my mum. Scott had been round at our house countless number of times, and my mum knew him very well. She started talking about things that didn’t really matter. I stopped her and said I had bad news, and that was she sitting down? When I broke the news Scott was dead, there was silence. It was as if not talking would make it untrue. Shock was really setting in. Jane then called and I told her. She said she would be right up. I made my excuses and left work. Only when Jane came up did I break down. I’d lost my closest and best friends at the age of 35. It was a devastating blow.

The funeral of course was an ordeal. It was taken by a humanist, as Scott was an atheist. I was managing ok, until she mentioned Scott going to Linksfield Academy “where he met Neil.” That was enough for me. It was horrible to really confront what was happening. One question remained though. Why? What had happened? I had a growing suspicion and finally it was confirmed. Scott had taken his own life. He’d taken an overdose of prescription medicine with alcohol. It was enough to do the job, but I’ll not shake the feeling that it was more a cry for help than a really serious attempt. But we will never know. Things had been so bad for Scott that the only way out for him was suicide.

People who have never been affected by suicide often consider the person who has died as being utterly selfish. But how bad must things get before someone takes the most drastic of actions? I didn’t feel he was selfish at all. I felt guilty. My friend was suffering and I couldn’t do anything to help him. I don’t know about others affected by suicide, but that was the overwhelming feeling for me. Would he still be alive if we’d done more for him? I think maybe he was in denial and when asked if things were ok, or could we do anything for you, he’d just say “I’m ok.” Well, obviously he wasn’t. Maybe its not so easy to see the signs that could lead to suicide in people close to us. Even when we do, the person directly affected needs to want the help. But when we do see it maybe we should push at the barriers and make sure those with mental health issues get the help they need to bring them back from the precipice.

Just the week before it happened. Scott, Kevin (friend who broke the news) had been in the pub after Aberdeen had beaten Hearts. I can remember that evening, thinking that I was with my closest friends, and that this would last forever. Turns out that forever is a very long time indeed, and things can vanish in the blink of an eye.

Well, atheist or no, I do hope Scott that you’re up there in heaven, as I think you’d appreciate the irony of ending up there, and that some day we’ll meet again. Its been ten years, but I miss you as much as ever.


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