Tuesday, 12 March 2013

I suppose they might call it an

accident but it is almost certainly suicide.
At 4am yesterday morning one of our neighbours drove his car at a considerable speed into a very large and very solid gum tree on the main road not far from us.  He did not survive.
I do not think he intended to survive. He had lung cancer and it had spread to other places. He could barely speak because of the damage to his vocal chords. He was severely underweight - and, despite the best efforts of his sister-in-law, he was still losing weight. He knew his time was limited. He had no energy. He had just lost his best friend, a small and very elderly dog.
His brother had gone to get him from interstate - where he had been living alone on an isolated property. The idea was that he would have more treatment here but nothing was working. He was told the cancer had not spread further but there was of course always the possibility that it would.
His brother brought him over and introduced him when they arrived and we made him welcome.His brother and sister-in-law are good neighbours. They are quiet but friendly. They are ready to help others. We share garden produce with them. They are the third people on my father's emergency number list if I am absent. It is typical of them that they should have opened their home to a student from another country. She lived with them for a number of years and calls them by the names for grandparents in her own country. They consider her part of the family. 
They would have taken in their brother and brother-in-law without hesitation
Every day was an effort for him and for his brother and sister-in-law. They could have done no more than they did, indeed they did far more than many families would do. He lived with them for the last short part of his life.
He was a gentleman, quiet, very polite and courteous. If you asked how he was getting on he would always respond positively.
He would not have seen his suicide, and it had to be that, for the ultimately selfish act it was. He would, I think, have believed that he was being just the opposite. He would have believed he was relieving his brother and sister-in-law of the burden of caring for him.
I was uneasy when I went out to get the papers early this morning. His car was not parked in the usual place in the street. I knew he was not well enough to have gone anywhere except to hospital. 
Some time later two police cars arrived. They were there for nearly three hours. His niece and nephew and their partners arrived. So did another relative.
I was not watching any of this in particular just going about some long overdue clearing up and putting out the rubbish ready for collection. It was impossible not to notice something happening directly opposite. I had heard the bang and then the sirens in the night anyway. I had no sense of foreboding until I saw the car was not there and I "knew" without knowing exactly what had happened when the police arrived.
We feel distressed for our neighbours but it can be nothing compared with their distress. Yes, it doesn't matter what anyone says, they are going to feel some sense of guilt. Did they do enough? What else could they have done? There are no answers to such questions. 
Now I am trying to understand, yet again, the utter despair which must be there to drive someone to even contemplate that sort of action. Was he in so much pain that life had become unbearable?  Was there nothing else he wanted to do or say or listen to? Was there nothing else he wanted to share - or have shared with him? 
Was life just too much of an effort?
I don't understand and I don't ever want to be in the position where I do understand. I suppose that is selfish too.

1 comment:

Jan said...

That's very sad. Perhaps it was the total of all those things you mention that was the final straw.

My youngest son is bipolar, usually managed reasonably, although not always in the way I would prefer. However, I have seen him go from reasonable to being suicidal in thirty minutes or so. No one would miss him, who would even know he had gone etc. If he had suicidal ideations while alone, then who knows what could be the tipping point?

Recently he had some major family problems and his partner told him to get out. With a complete reshuffle at work, coupled with moving house and custody agreements, I was apprehensive about his mental health..

However, he has finally gone to a new doctor who prescribed him something which he will take and which is working. He is seeing a psychologist with whom he some rapport rather than any of the psychiatrists who have been no help to him at all over the years. He is a different person and I'm proud of him. He now knows he has support, it comes from the most unlikely places.

I have mentioned this in case someone feels there is no hope. Son was like this for the last fifteen years and now is enjoying life, although he realises medication is probably a lifelong issue. He doesn't like that but will persevere.

It's indeed very sad that your neighbour did what he did.