There's been a lot of misguided talk about suicide this weekend. It's something I have some experience dealing with myself and I think this is a good time to share it, writes Sam Ikin.
There's been a lot of misguided talk about suicide this weekend. It's something I have some experience dealing with myself and I think this is a good time to share it.
I lost my father to suicide when I was 16. For years I blamed myself. He was living in Melbourne and I was in Brisbane when it happened. I was thousands of miles away but I was supposed to have been there.
It was Christmas and he had bought me a train ticket down to spend some time with him but I didn't go. I decided I wanted to stay with my family in Brisbane and I'd fly down after Christmas or New Year. He killed himself on December 27th.
How could I not blame myself? If I was there I could have stopped him, talked some sense into him or just had a chance to say goodbye. It's almost 20 years later and I still can't write this without crying. I'm still wracked with guilt and shame for not being there to save my dad.
Almost two decades of life experience and thousands of dollars worth of therapy later and now I can think about it rationally. I couldn't have saved him. He had probably already made up his mind and nothing I could have done would have changed that.
The rational part of my mind tells me it's not my fault but there's still some reptilian part of my sub-conscious that refuses let go of that guilt.
That's why I would urge anyone who wants to start casting blame about the apparent suicide of Jacintha Saldanha to take a breath and have a lie down for minute.
The nurse at the centre of this prank call debacle would have taken a lot of heat about this careless radio stunt but I'd be very surprised if that was the only event that pushed her over the edge. The events that lead to suicide are often complex and deep-seated. We can't say with any real certainty what caused it.
This is a horribly tragic event for everyone involved. It's something I would not wish on my worst enemy, but when we start to blame and point fingers we are only spreading the damage.
The one certainty about suicide is that it leaves a train wreck in its wake. The number of people who are left damaged, often beyond repair, is countless. Family, friends, workmates and the Royal family have all felt the shockwaves from this tragedy. Even people on the other side of the world who have had no contact with the victim other than a few brief seconds on the phone.
If you think the radio jocks behind this stunt should be punished you may rest assured that nobody will be as harsh on them as they will be on themselves. This event will be something that they live with forever. I can imagine the pain they are feeling right now. Their prank call was stupid, tasteless and selfish but that doesn't mean they are killers.
If their call was enough to push someone over the edge, the backlash they are receiving is surely enough to push someone in a similar state of mind over the edge too. If you shout at them too loudly you may find yourself caught in the debris that suicide leaves behind.
* Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.