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The International Writers Magazine: Life Matters

Making an early exit
• Sam North
Suicide is no easy solution


I write this the day after the bloodmoon.  I gave up around 3am to be honest.  The moon resolutely failed to turn red but it was half covered by then so I guess that was entertaining.  Woke up to find a JCB digger had crashed through my back garden wall by accident.  Sigh.

During the night I received an email from my sister to say her ex-fiancé and my old flat mate had committed suicide.  His wife had left him taking the child. On facebook he said he had nothing left to live for. Curiously he chose to do it on his birthday and the same date his mother had committed suicide when he was a kid.  Clearly something like that plays on your mind for a very long time.  Now the same fate awaits his child. We had lost touch, as one does, but it's a shock to realise someone could be that desperate and couldn't find another way out.
It made me reflect on how this is the first person I have ever known to actually kill themselves.  My mother threatened to do it practically every year of her life, but lived to 95, so we never took her seriously.  Now I have another close friend who is suffering from depression and threatening the same.
Depression is a killer.  I have only had it once after contracting pleurisy.  I really didn’t care if I lived or died for at least two weeks and yet, luckily for me, it passed.  I never really got the lung function back to 100 percent, but I never had the black dog again.  Perhaps because I have been a writer since I was about 18 you get used to rejection and can pass it off more quickly.  It used to be a sound association for me, the thud of the rejected manuscript being squeezed through the letter box and hitting the mat.  In the end I never even opened them, or read the ‘Not quite what we were looking for’ scribble inside.  I’d set myself a goal to be published by 29 or quit.  (Wasn’t exactly sure what I’d do if I quit, but that’s what I promised myself).  Luckily for me my first novel was published by NEL when I was still 28.  (209 Thriller Road) And even sold to America, Australia and Denmark. 

But after a good run with other books selling and then drama on radio for several years.  It all came to crashing halt.  It took a while to realise that I was no longer on ‘the list’, but finally I woke up and had to take up a profession that paid the rent.  Luckily being a teacher is so time absorbing I never had time to be depressed about it and although continued to write, the thudding on the mat was just as before and then eventually by text.  I had some recent successes that almost makes up for it, but it would be easy to be depressed by the lack of interest in your work.  Ask any mid-list writer, they are all probably going through the same process wondering how it was they lost ‘the love’ from agent/publisher/marketing department.

So I am more attuned now to when someone says they have lost the will to live.  Especially someone younger.  We all need to matter to someone.  We need to feel that we are heading somewhere.  Living day to day with a job that probably isn’t that rewarding isn’t enough, even if it is keeping the roof over your head.  Keeping motivated to take the next step is really important and yet, sometimes it is stupidly hard to even get up in the morning and ‘start walking’. A head of steam builds up and overwhelms you.  People outside this bubble can’t see what’s wrong.  They can’t feel what you are going through and perhaps will be like me and say ‘buck up, sunny day, let’s go for a walk, you’ll feel fine’, but you won’t.  Depression isn’t solved by sunny days apparently.  There is fear mixed in there – of what comes next or more often, that old Peggy Lee song, ‘Is that all there is?’  Disapointment with everything.  You get so wrapped up in the down, you don’t understand that others do love you, or value you and rely on you and would be devastated if you really left for good.  I am not sure what the answer is, but this is what I am thinking about on the day that my old flat mate topped himself and left a kid behind.

© Sam North – Editor Sept 28th 2015
author of Another Place to Die: Endtime Chronicles

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