Suicide is Painless?

“Suicide is painless, it brings on many changes”. These lyrics from the M.A S.H. theme had stuck in my mind ever since I had started to watch the TV show and of course, the original film.  It seemed to me that the second part of the phrase was patently true, but was the first part?

Until the late 1990_s it was only a theoretical question to me but then things changed dramatically in what felt to me to be a very short time.

At the time I was working in a job I hated, under a lot of pressure in it. I had financial problems because I had resigned from another job at short notice without securing an alternative one previously and just felt that nothing I did was any good or worthwhile.  The events and timeline are dealt with in my personal story so I won't repeat them here, but I will tell you how I answered my original question.

I had reached the end of my tether. I just couldn't go on any longer. My wife and family and everyone I knew would be far better of without me. If I was dead, the insurance money would solve the financial problems and my wife and family wouldn't have to put up with a loser like me. At the time I didn't know what was causing me to feel this way, but to use a trite and very apt phrase, “it seemed like a good idea at the time!” So I started, coolly and rationally, to plan my options for a successful exit. I had just resigned (requested to leave) from the job I hated so I had plenty of time to check things out. The last thing I wanted was to be unsuccessful so the method chosen had to have a high probability of success without the danger of being thwarted at the last minute.  At the end of these deliberations I decided to shoot myself and as I had two rifles at home, the means were readily at hand. So one morning I took two bullets out of my ammunition supply, a .22 calibre hollow point and a 7.62mm military round and weighed the relative merits and efficiencies of each round for what I wanted. I decided that the .22 could do the job but it would have to be spot on in it_s placement or it could fail _ so easy _ use the military 7.62mm, a much more powerful round and bingo, problem solved.

I then got myself ready, checked out my rifle and decided where I would do it.

That's the point where I found out that suicide isn't painless!  Oh, I wouldn't feel much, I knew all about where exactly to place the round to be removed from the pain and worthlessness I was feeling without a problem, and having worked in the emergency services for over 16 years I knew plenty about the results of self-inflicted injuries for it to work. One bang and all over!

Then it struck me! I remembered the sight of my first fatality and how messy a violent death is to those having to deal with it. I had a vision of my wife and kids coming into the room and finding me and I saw the look that would have been on their faces. That is what saved me. I unloaded the rifle and put the round away and went for a walk.  During that walk aimlessly around, I found myself at the medical surgery where my wife worked, walked in and found that there was a spare appointment with a doctor that I had never seen. That was the turning point _ it led to initial treatment for depression and eventually to a bipolar diagnosis and treatment.

No! Suicide isn't painless! Those you leave behind suffer for the rest of their lives wondering why. Often not understanding how it could happen, what they had done or not done; for you to think that this was your only option.

October 2002


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