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No Stranger To Suicide

Updated: Aug 30, 2022

I am no stranger to suicide.

Ye,s that’s right, I found him dead. Death by suicide. Sounds final doesn’t it. That is because it is. There are no chances for goodbyes, I’m sorry, forgive me, let me hold you, I love you, you are worthy, you are enough. No chance for anything else.

When I was 17 years young, I found my good friend Darren dead. Darren had chosen in a moment of overwhelming to take his life, for many reasons of which I will explain further.

Yes, that’s right, I found him dead. Death by suicide. Sounds final,

doesn’t it. That is because it is. There are no chances for goodbyes, I’m sorry, forgive me, let me hold you, I love you, you are worthy, you are enough. No chance for anything else.

Why? There are so many reasons why I feel Darren may not have wanted to stay with us, to be of this world.

Darren was the adopted son of a couple of older people (older than my parents anyway) who appeared to have adopted several children as well as having some children of their own, born from their own flesh.

They were an odd family, a bunch of people that just didn’t seem like the typical nuclear family of our small coastal town, but a family they were nonetheless.

There was small talk in the community when their 14-year-old adopted daughter fell pregnant and didn’t know she was carrying a child until she went into labor on the school grounds and gave birth that very same day.

But they were just rumors, right?

One of their birth sons had two rows of teeth, now that created some interesting conversations about town!

The father and mother ran the local vegetable store. The father ran the local gun club.

Before you get too judgy, this town had only 1200 residents and only one non Caucasian family, they were Maltese. It didn’t take too much to stand out from the rest of the crowd!

Darren was a car enthusiast. He had bought a Holden and hotted it up with his own money which had set him back approx $10K. The Holden was his pride and joy. Darren borrowed the money from the bank. In 1983 the banks lent money quite freely, especially when your father knew the bank manager personally, and interest rates were low.

One night, probably with too much alcohol under his belt, Darren crashed his car, writing it off, as undriveable, his pride and joy, gone, vanished. Broke, no job and now owing money, Darren felt overwhelmed.

I remember clearly I went to my friend Margarets’ sisters 21st birthday at their motel and afterward some of us girls went back to my small flat to continue celebrating. Not long after, this wasn’t in the days of mobile phones, the boys rocked up. Darren and Ray. They had been to the pub and were a little tanked, but hey, so were we.

I was kind of keen on Ray and he was keen on me. But I had fallen in love with another local boy, Kris, a surfer, tanned and unavailable, however, I had made my choice. I went for the unavailable one. Ray, was persistent, a regular visitor at my flat, and his gentle, kind energy was always welcomed, but only as a friend. Like Darren, Ray was a car enthusiast too, a ‘hoon’. Sadly on reflection I know I chose the boy who wasn’t showing up for me over the one that was, simply because I felt others would disapprove of me dating a ‘hoon’. So much judgement in those days in a small town.

Anyhow, after about one hour, the boys said they would go for a drive. Drinking and driving was a regular occurrence at the time, and there was little to no law enforcement to stop us.

Us girls stayed at home. M, J, D and myself, whilst the boys headed off on a car trip to Marengo, a nearby town.

Did I mention D was going out with Darren?

Anyhow after around what seemed like another hour, the boys came back. They had been in a fight and Darren had been beaten up. He was clearly a lot more drunk and was very upset by the fight with some other local boys.

For some reason, Darrens girlfriend seemed to make a huge issue out of the smell of Darrens feet and continually asked him to put his shoes on.

Darren was reluctant and couldn’t understand, along with the rest of us, why she was making it such an issue. He finally did what he was requested to do and put his shoes on.

The girls left.

The boys stayed for a while and then they said they were going home.

Darren got to his feet, with his shoes on, and declared he was going to kill himself.

Ray and I tried to placate him, tell him that the other boys weren’t worth it, and that everything would be much better in the morning.

Then the boys left.

After 20 minutes Ray returned and said he was really worried about Darren and wanted to stay with me.

As much as I liked Ray, him staying was not an option. I asked him to go looking for Darren and he kept repeating no. After a while I suggested that we go and lock up his car which was located outside a popular hamburger spot on the foreshore, knowing this would get Ray's attention, as he loved his car. It worked. We quickly left the flat and headed down the main street.

The thing about living in a small coastal town without too much traffic, is you hear nature way more than you would if you were in the city for example.

It was a clear night, no wind and no swell at all. Anyone who has lived by the sea will tell you that the sound of no swell, when the water hits the shoreline, sounds like a gun going off. CRACK!

So anyway, we were walking towards Darren's home, and I got about 200 meters away and I heard a huge crack. I looked at Ray and he said, don’t worry, it’s just the tide.

I could see a long way in the distance, someone laying down with what looked like a stick between their legs. I started to run. I ran so fast and then I stopped like I had hit a wall. There, in the distance I saw Darren laying on his back with a double-barrel shotgun between his legs. His head was all but gone. His shoes were also nowhere to be seen.

There was nothing we could do, there was no one in the street. Ray and I, 17 & 18 years old were alone, completely and utterly alone. We quickly realized the enormity of what we needed to do.

Darren had taken his life in front of his parents' shop and they lived behind with two of his younger adopted siblings.

We gingerly walked up the back lane path to wake his parents. Darrens dog started to go berserk! As we climbed the stairs, my mind was racing with what I wanted to say to them. We entered their bedroom and they were already stirring. By the time we sat them down in the living room the two siblings had also gotten up to see what was going on and why the dog was going so crazy at 3am in the morning.

I grabbed the youngest son and sat him on my lap, and he looked at me, and he knew.

Ray and I had to then tell Darrens mother and father that their son had taken his life.

That day is the day my mom says ‘we didn’t just lose Darren from the community, we lost our daughter’. She said that I changed. I became angry, reactive, too independent, alcoholic, self-destructive. I chose to push her away. Mum didn’t understand, I didn’t need help. I needed answers.

Not long after there was an inquest into Darrens death, his blood alcohol level was 5 times the legal limit. Outside of the courtyard, his father sneered and said to me ‘this is your fault’, but I knew he was in pain and projecting his own guilt onto me. I refused to take any blame for what happened with Darren. I would share my opinions on why Darren made the choice he did that night, however, it is only my perspective, my opinion and it should stay that way,

What I can say is that Darren thought his father was disappointed in him. Darren was also worried that he would never get a job and be able to pay back his bank loan. I also knew intuitively that there were many secrets inside of his heart. This was no one's fault. This was a tragic take of someone in overwhelm. Darren took the gun from his dad's gun safe, next to his father's head whilst he lay sleeping. He made a decision whilst drunk, sad and tired.

What I know about pain is it is temporary. What I know about suicide is that it is permanent. The scars left on those who love you, find you, have unfinished business with you last lifetime. Suicide is life changing for the ones left behind.

Darren wasn’t the only one that committed suicide in our town. Our old postmaster, a young 15 year old boy, quite a few actually., At one point we had the highest number per capita in our state. Copy cats? Perhaps, I don’t know. What I do know is many people after Darrens death would threaten to commit suicide if they didn’t get their own way. For example, if a partner was leaving another, one might say ‘I’m going to kill myself’, in desperation perhaps? As if that would be appealing to anyone to accept someone out of desperation.

And yet, I have threatened myself to commit suicide. Just as a side note, what is it with word ‘commit’ anyway? Like it is a crime to even think it. Consider may be a better word. I have considered many times in my life that death might be more appealing, and I am so grateful now that I had the clarity to not carry out my threat to myself. I never told anyone, only a doctor once, but yes I had thought it.

I had post natal depression, twice, which I personally believe was post natal tiredness. I was living away from family with no emotional support for 2 years with young children. With little support, lack of sleep, and an overwhelming need to be with family and friends I sank into a dark place. Luckily my mother and sister heard something in my voice and insisted I reach out for help. I visited a GP and he put me on antidepressants, At the time the pills gave me space and time to think more clearly. I saw the cause and the effect of the life decisions I had made, so far, so I changed them. I went home to family and friends and I took myself off my pills and had remained stable ever since. Ever since Covid that is. Covid, put me back into the headspace of isolation from family and friends, this time, however, I was able to see what needed to be done to lift myself up and out of depression. I came back to love.

What does self love look like?

Before I left my first husband, I heard of a woman the same age as me, married to a very important man, driving from her very important house in a very important suburb in Melbourne with very important children in a very important private school to her very important holiday house in a very important coastal town, and she jumped to her death. I got it. I felt her pain, it seemed easier to do that than to stay where I felt miserable. Easier than letting down everyone else, grandparents, children. friends, work, etc.

Yet it wasn’t that hard when I put myself first. I chose self love. It wasn’t that hard when I awoke to the love that I carry inside of me all of the time. You can call it God's love, divine love, self love, whatever you like, but I felt it. I felt self love. I left.

And that love is never far from me. I have learn to go and look for that love when it feels like all is lost. I simply drop the unconscious thoughts and reminders from my own and everyone else's judgment and feel the love. Only then can I go on.

I have thought about it, contemplated it, feared it, run from it and run towards it. As much as I have experienced all of the known precursors to suicide, I have never actually attempted it. Why you might ask? overwhelmingporary, joy is temporary, and death is permanent.

If you are considering suicide as a way out, please come back to yourself, through self love. You were born with everything you need, inside of yourself. Make it your mission in life to find self love, over self doubt.

You are worth it.

I promise.

Finally until this day, until writing this, I have sensed a hold over me, a wave of gripping sadness, unresolvedness with regards to losing Darren. For losing him we did. I understand now that Darrens act of suicide has deeply affected me and my relationships for many years. It is 40 years. That is a long time to carry hurt. I am strong, I am love and I am no longer going to allow the weight of Darren’s decision to hold me down.

I am a volunteer on a suicide helpline in Bali. We listen, we hear you, we love you unconditionally and we are here for you.

If you are considering suicide as your only option, please reach out to us,

LISA Helpline Bali

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