When I was 15, I tried to commit suicide.

I can tell you I did not agonise over this decision for days.  I did not consciously think that “I am going to commit suicide on Tuesday.”  I just knew that I could no longer live.  I had succumbed to the insanity of suicide.

For me, and I cannot speak to those who have attempted or been successful at suicide, for each of us have led different lives and have different stories to tell, but for me there was not a lot of thought put into it.  Simply, at the tender age of 15, I decided that I was not meant for this world and decided to leave.

I could bang on about how my life was shit, my dad was a raging alcoholic, my mom was a victim, my boyfriend had just broken up with me.  But in truth that is just rhetoric.  Those are just excuses for an existence where life did not seem to fit me.

In truth, life was too painful to live and in some ways it always had been.  I had decided that the joy of living that everyone spoke about had simply eluded me.  That my life was an anomaly.  That my life was a trick of fate, nothing more, nothing less.

And so it came, that on a Tuesday, I decided to remove myself from the thread of life.

I knew I did not want to leave a mess.  And I was afraid of pain, which of course sounds ridiculous when you are about to take your own life, but there you have it.  Guns and slitting of wrists was not the way I would be going.  I had no access to any deadly medications but I had heard that if you took an entire packet of paracetamol coupled with a litre of coke, the concoction was deadly to the human body, and death was certain.

For the record, that’s an urban myth.

I sat in the locker room of my school, coke in hand, paracetamol at the ready and with each sip I slugged a couple of tablets.  I imagined my heart slowing down.  I imagined my pain subsiding.  I imagined a life free of pain.  And there is the insanity of suicide.  I imagined a LIFE free of pain.  Except I would be dead.

I did not think of my parents.  I did not think of the person who may have found my body in that locker room.

By the time I had reached the point where life had become too difficult for me to live, I felt nothing.  No emotion, no beginning, no end.  There was only the need for me to no longer be in this life.

As I took the last tablet, I felt my heart slow down.  I felt my world beginning to end.  I closed my eyes.  A tear trickled down my cheek.

I don’t want to die.  A single thought entered my head.

I didn’t want to die.  I was 15 and what I wanted was to feel like I belonged, like I wasn’t a freak, like I was a normal person who revelled in the deep blue sky and could smell the roses.  I so desperately wanted to feel light.

I opened my eyes.  I was aware that my heart had not slowed down, that in fact my stomach began to churn.  The paracetamol and the coke had begun to eat the lining of my stomach.

I found my boyfriend, who had just broken up with me, told him what happened.

You stupid bitch, he said, you stupid selfish bitch.

And there it was.  My selfishness.

My mom was called.  I was taken to the doctor.  As I puked up bucket loads of stomach lining, I begged my mom to take me home.  She complied.

Why Sarah?  Why?  She could not understand, had no idea what to do.  Had no idea I did not want to live.

I went to school the next day because, you know, Life goes on.  We never spoke about it again.

Recently a friend of my friend’s son committed suicide.  He visited her house, left and killed himself.  Her son was left reeling, forever changed, questioning if there was more that he could have done.

He’s so selfish, she screamed, pain coursing through her veins for the loss inflicted upon her son.

I want to tell her that it isn’t selfishness that drives them to suicide.  I want to tell her that as a woman, some thirty years after the first attempt, who still courts the idea of suicide, where depression and anxiety are such a big part of my story, that there is an insanity to suicide that makes you lose all sense of reason.  I want to tell her that all you know in that moment is a pain that you can no longer live with.  That all you know is that the world would be better off without you and you without it.  I want to tell her that in that moment all you can think of is that your life is not worth living, that in that moment you cannot even begin to imagine what it will be like for others – you long since gave up caring for yourself, you certainly cannot care for others.  I want to tell her that suicide is messy and ugly and awful and devastating.  I want to tell her that in that moment, that very moment, we are insane.

I want to tell her that by calling the person selfish, we are closing down conversation.  That the idea that we are selfish to even think of suicide, means we won’t reach out for help because we don’t want to be faced with what we already know about ourselves – that we are horrible, selfish people, not worth saving.

I want to hug her and tell her I feel her pain, but I also want to defend the person who took his life.  I want to make his life matter, not be remembered as a selfish person who didn’t care for those he left behind, because I can tell you we care.  We care so very very much.  We care so much that we honestly believe you would be better off without us and as such are willing to take our lives to make it so.  Such is the insanity of suicide.  That in that moment we truly believe we are doing you a favour.  That our depression and melancholy and anxiety is a burden, and you deserve better.  That our pain is unbelievable and we cannot “snap out of it” and that it is awful for you to watch and it is awful for us to live, and so we decide to die.

Believing there is no hope, we decide to die.

I do not have full grown insanity.  I think of my husband and children in those moments I want to die.  I think of their pain.  I think of their confusion at their mother and wife wanting to leave them.  And I cannot bear it.  Because my love for them is so fucking fierce.  So I decide to live.

But for others the insanity is full blown.  And so they die.

I have no answers for this increasingly acute situation in which we find ourselves.  All I know is that we need to be talking about this.  We need to be addressing this.  Statistics have now increased to one in two (no longer one in five) people will experience a diagnosable mental illness in their lifetime.  50% of the population.  We really need to be talking about what leads to the insanity of suicide.

Until next time,

SHW Signature




  1. Just over two years ago, my son committed suicide by hanging. He was eleven days short of his 40th birthday. I found him at 6am hanging from the end of the roller door in the garage. It is said that suicides leave signals. He did – but I took what he said as a statement of fact not an intention of something that would come later.

    He had always been a different child, a different adult. He said to me in this ‘signal’ – I don’t understand this world and it doesn’t understand me. I didn’t want to ignore what he said. It seemed too profound to be met by silence. After a short silence, I attempted to acknowledge what he had said by saying: “I agree with you – but I probably don’t feel it as strongly as you do.”

    After his death, I went through a book of poetry that he had written. My son was a good writer. The poems were undated – but I felt that they were most likely written during his university days. I had intended that, if the poems were at the standard of writing that I believed them to be, I would edit and collate them and consider getting them published. However, I could not embark on this task. Most of the poems were very dark and death was a frequent topic. All those years, death was somewhere on his mind, it seems.

    He had dallied with drugs of various sorts over the years. I guess when this may have started but can’t prove it. He would never admit it – except that in his last years he was growing his own marijuana which couldn’t be disguised.

    In a sense, it seemed to me that my son would never have made old bones. I can’t help but think that he had found the world very challenging; that he felt the world didn’t meet him half way. I wondered if his relationships over the years went the same way. He was a talented and intelligent man and, while some of us recognised this, the expression of his talent and intelligence in the wider world did not bring fulfilling acknowledgment.

    Strange as it may seem, I am glad I found my son, finding him before anyone else, seeing him before the policemen brought him down from the roller door. You see, he looked like someone I hadn’t seen for a long, long time. He looked relaxed and at peace. The very opposite of the man I had seen the day before.

    My heart is glad at what I saw. Peace and ease is as much as we can hope for anyone. My darling boy looked as if he had found it.


    1. Dear Miss Eagle. There is so much I want to say and yet I seem unable to find the words. Mostly I just want to say how very sorry I am for the loss of your son, and how honoured I feel that you shared your story in this space. It seems so little, but my thoughts are with you. Much love, Sarah x


  2. Sarah, thank you for helping break the taboo around discussing suicide.

    I think many people feel very ill-equipped in knowing what to do or say if someone they work with, live with or love is battling what you aptly call the insanity of suicidal thoughts. We may fear saying the wrong thing, so we shy away from the subject altogether.

    A number of years ago I did a really eye-opening, confronting, but ultimately empowering free online course via the Salvos about these critically important issues. It made me feel like I could engage in difficult conversations and had more information to counteract the myths and taboos around suicide.

    Posts like yours promote the conversation and that’s a powerful thing.

    Keep doing what you do, and being who you are. xx


    1. That course sounds very interesting Annette. You are right, we seriously need to be talking a lot more about this rather than just saying how selfish a suicidal person is. Did you see that suicide is the highest cause of death among those aged 18-44. It’s simply not good enough. Thank you for your kind words. Take care xx


    1. I am so sorry to hear that Zoe, since the world would be an infinitely worse place to be without you and your beautiful soul in it. That bloody black dog has an awful lot to answer for doesn’t it. I truly hope things are better for you now xx


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