'I was orphaned by suicide'

Last updated 05:00 06/12/2013

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Our readers share stories of how suicide has impacted on their lives as part of this Stuff Nation assignment.

I never expected suicide to be such a feature in my life.

Before I begin my story, I'd like to say that this is not written to garner sympathy. I'm writing this to explore the strangeness of suicide and the oily fog of unanswerable questions it envelopes you in after someone takes their life.

My birth mother took her life on October 13, 2000. I was in the middle of a technical course and it came as an unwelcome and exasperating shock. I'd never met my birth mother; she and my dad split when I was a toddler and no one really talked about her.

So when I got the call from my father, letting me know, I really didn't know how to react. I'd always had the intention of tracking her down and meeting her someday and I always thought I had plenty of time to do so. But not anymore.

With her suicide, hundreds of questions about her and about why she left us would remain unanswered.

Her funeral was surreal and I spent most of it being angry that she had left before I got the chance to meet her. I found out after the funeral, at her wake, that she was very much like me, or more accurately, I was very much like her.

I forgave her several years later. I was only 22 at the time of her death and I did not have the maturity, strength of character or experience to deal with her loss appropriately. I still miss her, this woman who gave birth to me, whom I never got the chance to know.

Those unanswered questions still intrude on my thoughts, usually on the anniversary of her death and when I hear certain songs.

Eleven weeks ago my father also killed himself.

My estranged sister called me the day it happened, a surprise call from an unknown number overseas. My father and I hadn't talked for many years.

Not really knowing what else to do and prompted by the rest of my family, I made the decision to go to the funeral and say goodbye to the man I had loved before our falling out.

Again the funeral was very surreal. Again I was angry, but this time at myself for not trying harder to mend the rift between us.

Mostly I was angry at him for leaving without a goodbye and angry that I would never find out why he did it.

Now an orphan of suicide with both parents ripped away by this emotionally confusing phenomenon, I find myself lost. How is someone supposed to process this? The more I struggle for an answer, the more baffling the situation becomes, the more snarled the tangle of emotions.

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I am ashamed to admit that trying to forget both events seems to be the easiest way of dealing with things. There are so many loose ends that cannot be tied up my thoughts are in danger of getting stuck in an endless loop, trying to solve an unsolvable riddle.

Selfishly, I worry that their suicides will inevitably lead to my own. That whatever spectre precipitated their choice will eventually rap its knuckles on my door and take my life as well.

I don't know if I will ever fully come to terms with what happened. Not in any way that will seem complete or, for want of a better word, satisfying.

But I do know that the emotional turmoil, the anger, grief and guilt, the profoundly unexplainable sense of abrupt and terrible loss, will now not be something that I will ever knowingly, consciously inflict upon my friends and loved ones.

Whatever you might think in the moments before you try to end your life I can guarantee that the ripples your suicide will send out through the people you know will hit them as towering tidal waves of emotion and grief that will crash over them for years to come.

Someone loves you, someone wants you to stay.


People in crisis or concerned about someone who may be in crisis can call these confidential helplines:

Lifeline: 0800543354

Samaritans: 0800726666

Depression: 0800111757 

*The author's name has been withheld to protect their identity. 

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