Opinion: My Grandad's suicide didn't set him free

Opinion: My Grandad's suicide didn't set him free

This article discusses suicide and mental health.

Suicide should never be seen as a way out.

When it came to my Grandad - who took his own life in 2015, his pain was dispersed to a very large audience - namely the hundreds who attended his funeral.

I still have many questions - questions I will never get answers to. But instead of dwelling on them, I'd rather focus on what can be done to prevent others following suit. As far as I'm concerned, more can be done to prevent suicide.

The solution? Let's share our stories about grief, New Zealand.

The shocking statistics don't lie. Every year, about 500 people in New Zealand take their own lives.

Losing Grandad to suicide brought me all kinds of emotions and physical reactions, and it took time to recover from the loss.

The Mental Health Foundation says getting through a loss from suicide is different for everyone.

"There'll be good days and bad days, but gradually things will get easier.

"Remember, almost every feeling you have when you first lose someone is normal. However, if you do not eventually start to feel better, or you don't feel as though you can handle things on your own, you should consider speaking to your doctor or a counsellor.

"Take the time you need to make sense of what has happened, work through the grief and take care of yourself." 

I try to talk about the grief I experienced, and am still experiencing, as much as possible. Why? To help those suffering - so they know that suicide will not stop the pain. It won't stop the hurt.

No, I'm not in any way qualified to talk about this. I'm no doctor. But as someone who has experienced the grief first hand, I can tell you my Grandad is not free - his pain lives on. He should have lived another 20 years and died the happy, loving and caring Grandad I always knew.

People often get surprised that I'm so open to talk about how my Grandad died, which is disheartening - because it suggests we're still afraid to talk about it, when we shouldn't be. Talking is the only way we are going to reduce the amount of people taking their lives.

But there's hope. I'm glad the current Government has piled $1 billion into mental health services. Groups identified as being at risk include Māori men, while socio-economic factors have also been identified as a contributing factor. 

But money can only do so much. It's up to us as a country that prides itself on love, compassion, and care - just like we saw in the wake of the Christchurch terror attack.

We need to make sure similar messages and stories - like my Grandad's, are seen as an opportunity to educate people and create awareness. That's why I will continue to talk about it openly, and that's why I'm writing this column.

I know my Grandad's death is only one of many devastating examples. If you're reading this, the chances are you or someone you know has lost someone to suicide.

If you're struggling to deal with the grief, the one piece of advice I can offer is this: talk about it and spread awareness, so we can prevent others from leaving us.

Mark Quinlivan is Newshub's Christchurch digital producer.

Where to find help and support: 

  • Shine (domestic violence) - 0508 744 633
  • Women's Refuge - 0800 733 843 (0800 REFUGE)
  • Need to Talk? - Call or text 1737
  • What's Up - 0800 WHATS UP (0800 942 8787)
  • Lifeline - 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland
  • Youthline - 0800 376 633, text 234, email talk@youthline.co.nz or online chat
  • Samaritans - 0800 726 666
  • Depression Helpline - 0800 111 757
  • Suicide Crisis Helpline - 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)
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