GUEST POST: ‘Suicide doesn’t just end the life of its victim’

Sarah Pietrzak writes…..

“Alexander McQueen killed himself yesterday, and in the act of destroyed any hope of a brilliant legacy. For the next few days writers and editors will frantically devote themselves to dredging up memories of his “fashion moments.” Pictures and show-reel will be devoted to his moments of triumph, but ultimately his legacy will be, “Alexander McQueen, that designer who killed himself.”

Suicide doesn’t just end the life of its victim, it does a pretty good job of shattering the lives of those who knew and loved them as well. Even now, I look towards planning my six-year-old son’s upcoming birthday, and all I can think is how his day of celebration is inextricably entwined with the suicide of my beloved aunt and godmother, just two weeks before his birth.

My aunt, probably much like McQueen, was charismatic, gifted and wickedly funny. She was also the mother of two small children at the time she killed herself.  I was forty weeks pregnant at the time and spent the first few month of my son’s life plunged into mourning and self recrimination, asking myself what could I have done to prevent her from killing herself in the exact same way McQueen did. Even now I don’t really remember any of the wonderful times we had together because all I remember is that she killed herself. Suicide taints everything, even our memories.

Why did two people, so very different, but seemingly so loved and talented choose to end their lives in such a violent manner? Why did none of us see the sign and be able to prevent it? Or perhaps, the signs were there and we simply didn’t see them. At least, not properly.

In Australia, 2,000 Australians die by suicide every year[1] and the emotional fallout from their deaths is universally devastating. So often when I recount the tale of the suicide of my beloved aunt and godmother, just as my baby was due, the listener will pause before saying something along the lines of: “Well I do think suicide is the ultimate selfish act.” It usually takes enormous self-control not to shriek loudly that whilst I concur with his or her statement, it helps precisely nobody.

I suspect for those who commit suicide or are suicidal they go beyond any point of rational reason. I don’t know. I can thankfully say I have never felt like that. I do feel enormous compassion for those who do feel like that. For there to be such an enormous pain or void in their lives that suicide is the only solution. And almost seven years on little seems to have changed.”

If you or someone you know needs help, please contact SANE Australia or Beyond Blue…. or call Lifeline on 131114


More articles