15 MINUTES

The only courage that matters is the kind that gets you from one minute to the next Mignon McLaughlin
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“Jules – it’s Annie” My friend Jenny sounded distraught. I’ve heard her sound
distressed, dispossessed, ecstatic, almost every other emotion imaginable. But
distraught, no.
“What’s happened?” Her beloved older sister had died. Unexpectedly. Sadly.
Alone. Suicide, the loneliest word in our vocabulary. Is it selfish, sad, a release, generous? What drives someone to take their own life? It varies. Always a release from pain: physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, financial… Like a virus- ‘emotional SARS/Ebola’ perhaps. It strikes relentlessly with no thought for those left behind.

Kids are not immune.

Suicide is a seductive lover. He is taking more and more young people. He’s too strong for them. He woos you into believing that you are doing the best for
everyone, that no-one will miss you, that you’re better off in his arms than anyone else’s. He can surprise you. He is a master of wrong footing those who know you. He leads you to believe that he is the least selfish option and the best for everyone. He carries pheromones so powerful they are almost impossible to resist. He penetrates every aspect of your being. He leads you to places you would never normally consider in your wildest dreams. A human black widower spider. Doctor Death.

He offers an easy escape from terrible thoughts, awful situations, or just
frightening perceptions.
He offers moments of blinding clarity through the impenetrable black fog.
He turns the treacle of life into clear air that you believe you can finally move
through.
He quiets the black dogs of real depression.
He is gently quiet, not ‘look at me’ noisy.
He teases you with peace.
He offers you choices. Often at a time when you feel you have none.
He is persistent.
He won’t go away easily.

Talking to him is not enough. Asking others to talk to him might work, but he
often refuses to listen. Feeding him on antidepressants sometimes just makes
him sleepy for a while. Dormant. Hibernation. Then he unexpectedly wakes and comes out fighting when you least expect it.

Fifteen minutes is all he needs. Resisting him is possible temporarily, but during that fifteen minutes he becomes totally enticing, absolutely irresistible. A siren calling you relentlessly. The strength to call for help, No. The strength to keep fighting, no. The strength not to capitulate. No. The strength to say I need to stay alive for my kids, my partner, my family…whoever. No.

He will have coached you in how to prepare. Which method is the most effective to use. How best to arrange yourself. Which location is most appropriate. I used to mentally rehearse options: guns- too messy, hanging- too shocking, pills probably easiest.

During that 15 minutes nothing combats his power. I was lucky enough to have friends I could call who would love me or bully me through that 15 minutes. Just. Many others don’t.

Once I called Lifeline. Thank goodness for the young counsellor who made me laugh so much that night as I coached her with the questions she should have been asking me, for fifteen mins. Fifteen minutes of fame never even crosses your mind.

If you’ve never met him, you’re fortunate. Be grateful. If you have, and have
resisted his charms. All power to you. You’ll never be the same again.
Don’t criticise those who have and didn’t make it.
He was too strong for them.