To Those Left Behind

I have no idea what it must be like to lose a child, nor would I ever want to. It is said, quite rightly so, that parents should never have to bury their child. We can only imagine the devastation, loss, soul-searching, and questioning that a parent would journey on the way to find answers.

In New Zealand, we currently have an epidemic of young people taking their own lives. I don't think that this is overstating the situation, international comparisons show us we are at the top of this sad statistic.

There has been a lot said about the suicidal victim, the person who took their own life, and not a lot about the primary victim, the parents and loved ones left behind to often wonder - what went wrong.

Nothing went wrong, except that a young person who struggled with coming to terms with events in their own life was eventually overwhelmed with their negative thoughts to the point where they could see only one option to stop the pain and hurt.

Having assisted the Coroner with many inquests into the successful suicides of young people, having intervened while young people intended to take their lives, and having been swamped with negative thoughts myself, I can tell you that there is no single reason nor single answer as to the cause of suicide.

It wasn't your fault, you did what you knew was right, you did everything that you could.

Having interviewed families of those who died from suicide, there were always so many questions left unanswered. Why didn't they ask for help, why didn't they tell someone, why didn't they come to me. If only...

Guilt, regret, blame, the list of emotions and thoughts is endless. Should I have taken them for another opinion, should I have forced them to get help, should I have had them committed, again the list is endless.

By all means grieve, grieve as much as you can, grieve for the loss of your baby. Please don't blame the system, please don't blame their friends, and most importantly, please don't blame yourself,

When we feel overwhelmed with negative thoughts, there is no clarity of thought. There is no simple way out, there is no obvious quick fix. The brain is not working as it normally would.

If I had one single suggestion for those who find themselves in this terrible and tragic situation of fare-welling a loved one to suicide - be kind to yourself. Be as gentle to yourself as you would have wanted to be gentle to your loved one.

Let's talk!