Tragically I, like many, have had to attend funerals of friends who have taken their own life.
Trigger warning: This post deals with mental illness and suicide.
One was for a colleague. It was unexpected, it was tragic, it caused untold damage to his family and I was one of many who spoke and cried in the Chamber after his death.
In my condolence speech to him on that day – one I really did not want to do because what words are there to describe this situation – I said that I was “angry and sad to be here today,” and that among other parties I was angry at him “for not having the faith in those around [him].”
Many people thought my sentiment was not right and that being angry was unjust. But I was angry — I think in some ways I still am — as well as sad both him and his family.
Yes, it was a complex situation but I’m not sure his death solved the problem. Words are my tools and they failed me; it was too hard to express.
Years later, I attended another tragic funeral; one for a friend made in my heady uni days: the younger brother of a mate, part of the crowd, the kind of person you know will make any event that more fun and enjoyable.
He was witty, charming, gorgeous, insightful and just nice, though looking back he probably did had a dark Heathcliff side about him.
It was at that funeral that his brother found the perfect words for his eulogy – words that I had never been able to find. He stated it plainly: “My brother had an illness, it killed him.”
That is what we need to recognise: it is an illness. Depression and other forms of psychosis are illnesses, and it is the illness which makes a person suicidal.