Suicide is Painless? (and a poem)

So suggests the wonderful theme tune written for the very funny series ‘Mash’ for those who are old enough to remember it.

1-p1050114The 10th September is ‘World Suicide Prevention Day’ something that I care a lot about. I once had a  friend who told me her sister had jumped from the top of a multi-storey car park.  It had taken her two years to decide she could talk about it to anyone! Painless for who?

Sadly a person very close to us succumbed to car fumes many years ago, leaving his friends and the family devastated. Then there were the white lies that accumulated about the cause in a vain attempt to cope with the guilt many of us felt and soften the blow for his parents. Finally, despite the fact that he was well loved, some of those that had been close to him were so distressed that they avoided the funeral.


Several years later someone else close to us took an overdose, this was  in the days when such actions were cloaked in guilt and shame. The person in question didn’t want his parents to know the truth so a permanent veil of silence surrounded  the event for the rest of their lives. Fortunately with support he recovered and subsequently had some very happy times.

p1060693As someone who has worked in the theatre even in the midst of comedy tragedy is sometimes not far away.

Think of the image of the unhappy clown and the lives of people like Tony Hancock. Let’s face it, the dark side of life is sometimes unavoidable.

Loneliness can, in my view, lead to depression that might trigger for a suicide attempt, but then loneliness has a stigma of its own.

I recently heard someone say ‘she could not understand anyone without friends. It was pathetic’ Surely not. Having friends depends on so many things, upbringing a sense of belonging, a chance meeting, going to places where others probably have a similar income and/or the same beliefs, hobbies, interests as ours.

We are probably all aware of someone who may be depressed because they have lost a loved one,  a job, are ill, don’t get the grades everyone had expected, but do we do anything about it? Knock on the door offer them a cup of tea?

Retirement, too, can be a big shock for many especially if one moves away from a familiar environment. There can also be the loss of status, a particular role in life and the company of colleagues.

In later life I studied for a Master’s degree that looked at the  physical, psychological and social implications of ageing. One thing that has stayed in my mind is that older people need to hear the sound of their own voice to reinforce a sense of self. A good reason to say “Hi” to someone new, check out a newcomer is OK.

Of  course if one is desperately depressed one needs to seek help. But isn’t is also a question of a wider discussion about the need for a more compassionate society?



His eyes open
blink in the wind
heart thumps under
water heavy jacket
hands and face numb.
Tries to wriggle his toes
in the wet woolly socks
his shoes gone.
Seagulls screech
glide downwards
peer at him greedily
in semi-darkness.
he sees his mother’s
grey eyes,
“This is not what I wanted,”
she whispers.
Was this what he wanted
when he washed down
the pills with three quarters
of a bottle of Bourbon?
The sound of a siren.
Now pebbles crunch.
He feels his head lifted.

Ann Perrin.

An award winning blog   a ‘blog that brightens our day’  (most days)

This entry was posted in Ann's poems, Brighton - out and about, Finding my feet in Brighton, Living by the sea, Photography and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Suicide is Painless? (and a poem)

  1. rutinka says:

    Dear Ann,

    What a wonderful piece and fine poem. I agree with everything you say. I have suffered bouts of depression in life and phoned Samaritans during an awful period in my thirties. I do try to reach out to people who seem lonely but there is a risk in offering something to somebody in desperate need in not wanting to become a long term rescuer, which I have been a lot in my life and my work. I fear there will always be people who take their lives just as there will always be people who are violent to others.

    To me everything is based on the quality of love and care we receive in early childhood. Those who are deprived of love and/or abused will become the depressed or violent of the future. I despair at some of the parenting I see around me – little children who are so vulnerable and yet often ignored, shouted at or abandoned.

    Keep the faith anyway to those we can give to,



    • ann perrin says:

      Thank you so much for your very kind comments and sharing. Yes for me too in my work and life ‘long term rescuer’ has been an issue. I also fully understand that deprivation in childhood is an enormous issue and that little children are vulnerable. But older children too can suffer from being left too much too their own devices or subject to bullying at school. The suicide rates suggest young men are the most vulnerable. Again thank you. It was so lovely to hear from you. Ann


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