I said blog, Paul said book, I said I don't have time for that, so we settled on a very long blog.
I know its not the lightest of subjects, but we all know that person, and they may be closer than you think. So please if you can take the time to read through,
I find myself constantly walking the fine line of life daily. Forever grateful for finding that one magical love, a family that is fun and close, living a life that affords us all that it does, the ability to make change whenever the desire strikes, all of those things that can be so easily taken for granted by all of us daily.
The other side of that fine line of my life is, I don't have the luxury of being blissfully unaware of the utter despair and relentless hopelessness that permeates the lives of so many. The strength and resilience that I am honoured to witness in those who have to navigate what I perceive as the most horrific of life experiences, leaves me deeply inspired and humbled.
There are things going on out there that even after so many years doing what I do, can still leave me in silence for hours so as to better process the energy of what I deeply believe should never be a part of any human's experience.
Spirit spent years training me up for what I do, usually by throwing some hideous life experience at me to work through, but I have never even considered giving up my craft. I do however daily search for the why of some of life's ordeals, if for no other reason to teach avoidance.
But despite that what does just simply piss me off to the point where I lose all sense of 'love and light' and stretches my patience around what I do is this.
The horror and torment I work with daily isn't created by war, natural disaster, famine or the other external forces, The stark reality is that the anguish humans endure is more often than not inflicted by the acts of other humans, and again more often than not, the very humans that should be uplifting, not destroying.
That is worth repeating
The actions that ultimately sow misery and distress within the soul, the things that push people closer to the precipice of feeling completely powerless, and hopeless are created by acts of either mindless ignorance or profound contempt for the human spirit, both very much the darker aspects of the human psyche.
The idea of right and wrong, good and bad, acceptable and not, are of course objective. Your right or wrong may clash quite convincingly with mine, or any other humans on the planet for that matter. We all feel our truth is the only truth. Even a quick flick through Conversations with God, will make it clear along with the other teachings of spiritual history, there is no such thing as good or bad, just actions and reactions, cause and effect.
But Karma, the spiritual reaction to the action, the thing that levels the playing field of our human need for poetic justice, although comforting to know it is always at work, may come too late for some. And those that it has come too late for are the ones I want to talk about today.
I grew up in a household with a Mother who attempted suicide most weeks for a 3 year period, all accommodated by a well meaning doctor prescribing abundant doses of first generation anti-depressants giving Mum a handy and easy way to slide into the forever sleep. Dad had left the building by the age of 6 I had learnt the unenviable skill of how to keep someone alive long enough
for the ambulance to arrive, and after about the 15th attempt I was pretty good at it too.
My brother, attempted to kill himself at the age of 22, failed, never tried again
My stepbrother, jumped off the Auckland University Library building when I was around 11. He succeeded.
My Grandaughter attempted it several times after being kicked to the ground at school and beaten around the head. She never went back to school after the age of around 12 as the school refused to remove or punish the girl that put her in hospital. Instead she lived in terror.
My children have lost many friends to this tragic choice over the years.
In the many years I had my Financial Services business, I was privy to the monthly mortality reports from different Life Insurance suppliers. Even, back then they continuously painted a picture of so much death by despair. The numbers don't lie and even without the extra pressure of today's world financial and social climate, I always stood in wonder at the rate at which especially our men were taking their own life.
Things have, as you are all aware ramped up over the last few years. Certainly it is becoming a far more prominent cause for people to be in front of me. The figures are well hidden and denied, but I would go so far as to say there is not one person out there that has not been impacted by this experience, either up close or within the 6 degrees of separation that we live. We all have it in our life experience one way or another. We all have the story.
For those left behind, the question of why weighs heavy
When I am working with a suicide, not always, but more times than I am ever going to be comfortable with, the soul that has made the decision to suicide wants to show me in the first person, which requires me to live the moment, how they felt as the rope tightened, the blood flowed, the pills took affect, the car hit the tree. They want me to feel the feeling of what drove them to do what they did, and how they felt as they left. They need me to experience their decision.
It's never pretty, in fact I don't think language has the words to give even a close explanation of how dark it all feels. Words and their restrictions eh.
Many years later, when the pills had finally been thrown down the toilet for the last time , I asked my mother the one question I needed answering, Why she thought leaving 3 kids under 10 to find her dead in her bed was such a great and loving idea that it had to be repeated ad nauseum? Her answer, didnt leave me much I could argue with.
Her exact words.
I was always so tired, I needed to get away from it all, so I would wash and iron your clothes for the week, put them into your drawers and then do it, thinking I would be back in a week. I never intended to stay away.
We all live in the thinnest of wispy wishes of how life should look. So I got it.
But here was a woman that knew her 3 kids would be left sitting on their suitcase out on the roadside without her. No Social services to speak of then, and a family that had scattered in the wind. But her desperate need for peace by finding that exit plan regardless of its outcome was so overwhelming that it drowned all reason.
When I am thrown into the darkest of moments with the souls that suicide, the feeling is visceral, there is a complete lack of light, the is no way out to be seen, it feels like the worst of panics on one hand, and on the other the deepest of grief, isolation and desolation. But again those are just words we use for emotions that we may be able to feel or not. Words are always so much more shallow than the emotion.
I have died over and over with these tortured souls and regardless if there is that rope around my neck, a hose in the exhaust, that feeling, doesn't change enough to be anything but the impact to the human condition when it's been driven too far.
The enigma of suicide, and what possibly instills more hope in me than having to rely on a deeply flawed system for change, is that the desire to leave the world is often a fleeting moment – a snapshot in time. It hinges on the immediate availability of a means.It is in the moment of complete darkness, when the need to run and escape overwhelms that the ‘way', has to be in close proximity.
And yes even that tiny scrap of hope helps me.
The Golden Gate Bridge in San Fransisco, since it was erected in 1937 has became a magnet for suicide. The story is long and the research fascinating, but what that research has uncovered is proof of what I know.
Of the 515 people that were stopped by passers-by, bridge authorities, or in fact survived the fall, only 25 went on to kill themselves. The other 485 didn’t go and find another bridge to throw themselves off nor did they find another way to die.
Here in NZ jumping from bridges was almost unheard of except for Gragfton Bridge in Auckland, and people jumping from that structure became quite prolific until in 1996 glass barriers were installed to stem easy access.
Prior to being phased out in the 1960's most homes in Britain were supplied gas that contained carbon monoxide. Over 44% of suicides were by this means. As they phased out the gas in the late 60's and 70's and replaced it with one that was far more uncomfortable when inhaled, vomiting, pain and a chance that it wouldn't be lethal, the rates of suicide were seen to drop considerably.
Japan has its own 'Suicide' forest, at the foot of Mt Fuji, where between 30 to 100 souls take their life there annually. Mostly by hanging, with the second choice for this culture being to throw themselves off high buildings. Both easy and accessible resources for those that make this tragic choice.
In the states its guns, with around 23000 suicides being carried out by way of what is a very readily available resource for any American, with around 44% of all households owning at least one . In NZ rural suicide by shooting holds a higher stat than urban area where guns aren't that readily available.
It seems to me that the way in which suicide is accomplished is very much linked to the readily available resource. When men used to use replaceable blades on razors 12% of male suicide in NZ used them to cut away life.
Women appear to prefer poisoning, either by medication or chemical. Both readily available over the counter, but usually already in the cupboard.
By 2008 suicide by car exhaust fumes had declined from 28% to 9%, mostly due to imported cars having to be fitted with catalytic converters which prevented poisoning.
Hanging, and I don't have a figure, but based on what I know of client stories, hanging is very much the way for our young.
Women are more likely to choose to suicide at home, while 30% of male suicides occur in public places or buildings.
Back in the early 2000's I noticed the clusters. We would lose one kid at the school and then more would surely follow. I take the energetic point of view on everything and what I could see was that need for attention and approval being so high that when one young person tragically took their life, others in their environment would see the attention, the tears, the grief of others and they would see it as a means to an end. Not a rational one, no, but Kids aren't as equipped to make rational decisions as we expect them to. They are by design impulsive.
I used to call it the viral effect. On doing some research around the subject as to be honest I wasn't sure if it was just me that noticed it, I find they are called clusters. They mostly affect those under 25. Social media as their most common form of communication easily provides the ripple effect. And for those that may already be teetering on the brink of having mental health issues that our current education system (system being educationally and environmentally) seems to instil in all manner of ways, along with the current peer shaming culture, impulse kicks in and they are gone.
It's not just suicide that create clusters. Here is an excerpt from an article written by Robert Shmerling, Senior faculty Editor at Harvard Health publishing and well worth a full read if you ever get the time and inclination.
A student suddenly develops leg pain and paralysis; soon hundreds of schoolmates have similar symptoms. Nuns begin biting each other, and soon the same thing is happening at other nearby convents. Three schoolgirls begin laughing uncontrollably, sometimes going on for days. When 100 classmates develop the same problem, the school is forced to close down.
Yet in each case, no medical explanation was ever found.
The first known examples of social-media sociogenic illness (the sciency name for clusters) were recognised in the last year or two, a time coinciding with the pandemic. Neurologists began seeing increasing numbers of patients, especially teenage girls, with unusual, involuntary movements and vocalisations reminiscent of Tourette syndrome. After ruling out other explanations, the tics in these teenagers seemed related to many hours watching Tik Tok videos of people who report having Tourette syndrome and other movement disorders. Posted by social media influencers, these videos have billions of page views on TikTok; similar videos are available on Youtube and other sites.
Self harm has its own clusters. Social media for all the benefits it could provide appears to have morphed into a killing machine for so many. Addictive by design, based on the reward and consequence analogy, it is a place of rejection, twisted behaviours and bullying like none we have ever experienced before in history, and with free access to massive doses daily. Ive always found it curious that the most dangerous drugs are those we are encouraged to take.
There is no end of evidence as to how suggestible we are as a race. The recent up-turn in gender confusion would be the obvious go to. It is a snapshot in time, but one that is making life difficult for our young people while it is still so strong energetically. And again perpetuated only by other humans. We are constantly telling everyone they need to change to be accepted, and by the very statement we are telling them they are not good enough.
The figures around the numbers of suicides in NZ paint a very clear picture that appears to have been overlooked by everyone that should be looking for answers to this unnecessary loss since the start of time.
What is obvious is that every act of suicide, every precious life that is lost to the moment of desolation, is acting out of that sense of powerlessness bought on by the thoughts, actions, words of others. We blame it on their state of mind. But what makes up that state of mind really. Despair, isolation, misery, is always within memory, and life experience, and trauma that ultimately brings them to the point of overwhelm and dejection. Family's that were intolerant of anything that they believed was right. The need of others to guilt and use that word offended towards anyone that disagreed with their idea of truth. The insistent need to win. Win energy, the battle, to be RIGHT according to them. Just plain human cruelty and lack of compassion, understanding and empathy. The very day to day conflicts we see playing out daily in our world.
Suicide, self harming, poor mental health, these things are created through memory.
Which surely means that if there is no longer an attachment to the past, to that memory, person, experience, trauma, then where would the desire to end life exist? I personally don't feel it would.
My mother as she went into dementia, apparently had a 'heart condition', that had kept her taking multiple medications for over 30 years, in fact around 10 a day. For years, I wanted her off at least the statins, simply due to the stats surrounding the increase in Dementia, (around 40%) when taken. I would throw them in the bin, the doctor would tell her she would die without them and get out the prescription pad. I lost the debate. I took my mother off all her heart medication, including the statins when she did inevitably enter dementia.
When I was finally forced to ask the doctor 2 years (of no medication at all) later why my mother was in heavy soul destroying dementia, but still with us at 34kilos and without food or water for 6 days, his reply was as I thought.
“Penny, it's up to her heart, and it is very strong, one of the strongest I've seen.” I can assure you the conversation ended very abruptly when I queried 30 years of medication.
What happened to my mother's heart condition, the one that was so life threatening the doctor would look surprised every time she turned up at her clinic still breathing?
Mum had simply forgotten by way of the dementia that she had a problem. And that appears to be a thing with dementia patients. The emotional connection she had with her past, admittedly heavy trauma, starting with being placed in an orphanage by her mother, a heavily alcoholic husband, and an abusive 2nd husband who was to be honest the evil stepfather, had been released by way of simply forgetting. Maybe that is why dementia is a thing, maybe it is a form of mind suicide for those that can't forget. Who Knows. But where she spent a great deal of her time trying to end her life, forgetting instilled in her the very clear and determined will to live.
So, what happens if someone who is so overwhelmed by past experience, memories of trauma, loss, grief, all bought about by the unthinking acts of other humans, simply forgets they happened?
Electric shock therapy, was one of the most gruesome, cruel, hideous, treatments known. My mother went through it in the 60's and it was enough to break your heart. But what it did do is force her to lose 2 years of memory. Just enough to cover off the marriage breakup to my alcoholic father, bless him, the financial disaster that followed, the attempted rape by the neighbour that I witnessed but was kept quiet through shame, and the scorn she felt as a divorcee, which was certainly not considered de rigeur in the early 60's
And, as with anyone that dares stretch the ever changing social norms she and her children were not just ignored but condemned.
I know after the treatments as brutal as they were, I never had to call another ambulance.
I also know with such certainty when I do EFT, tapping, energy work, clearing, that is what happens for my clients, thankfully without the complete collapse of the nervous system that shock treatment created. But when that emotional charge, that destructive memory has been softened and a new perspective can be applied, people get well. Because if you can't feel it then you can't be damaged by it. If they can't feel rejection, condemnation, abandonment, thought fear, self hatred, guilt then life becomes a blank canvas.
Why has something so simple been so ignored for so long. Needless to say it will have a very heavy connection to the $ and that instant need for medication to dull life to into a holding pattern while fattening the wallets of big pharma. But medication doesn't disperse the experiences that create the problem, it just numbs the feeling.
But, to me there is an even simpler solution to the ever increasing anguish and pain being created for those that are already vulnerable.
We absolutely have to stop blaming and shaming everything else for what we create. Money, world conditions, the weather, money (worth that second mention), we are pretty good at laying the fault at the feet of that thing we call Society,
And in using that word Society it somehow implies that we aren't part of it. Society is a thing not a community, not a single human but some entity that we have no control over. And that my friends is just complete bullshit.
Every single one of us makes up a part of 'Society' and in that it is time we all took responsibility in the part we play that causes so much damage.
For us to stem the tide of suicide we simply need to change our ways. It doesn't take billions of dollars, or a thousand new hospitals, or even too much effort. In fact probably less.
My solution for what it's worth.
1. I know it's easy for us to assume that our kid's have a thorough understanding of cause and effect. But in my experience they are blissfully clueless. Especially in an environment where so many negative behaviours have been not just normalised but celebrated.
Our girls especially have learnt to hunt in packs, circling like feral cats anyone that dares to be more than that 10 percent different. Harsh language, but for any parent that has had their girl come home from school quietly in pieces, you know exactly what I am talking about. We live in a society where the higher the level of humiliation, abuse, rejection and destruction of self worth can be created in the victim the more we view the abuser as powerful and socially acceptable.
Schools for the most part backup that belief by turning a blind eye, along with a total lack of real consequence for those that instigate abuse. And abuse is what it is, no less impactful than domestic violence, no less impactful than assault, no less mentally or emotionally impactful than any other form of serious trauma.
And interestingly New Zealand has one of the highest rates of bullying in the world, and not surprisingly we also have one of the highest rates of youth suicide in the OECD. Hard to miss the connection wouldn't you think.
Do your children know, do they have the information that if they choose to be the bully, to humiliate or emotionally or physically abuse others then they may be responsible for someone taking their life? Do they fully understand that they may be the cause of that final effect?
I don't believe they do, simply because most adults don’t seem to have a grasp on it. And the only place our young learn is at the feet of the adults. Maybe ask the question of them. What do you think happens when someone is bullied and made to feel ostracised or bad about themselves. What do they do when they finally walk away from the keyboard, or go home after school. Ask them to describe what they think their words create for that other kid when they are lying in bed at night alone. What has been created for that human by the cruelty of others? Maybe check in on the answer?
Teach them that no one and I mean no one has their sh..t together. Everyone is struggling to find their place. That feeling of inner turmoil is ok, everyone, especially the ones that appear to exude confidence spend a great deal of their day trying to navigate the illusions of life.
We have lost our way completely as to how to find joy in our lives. For more than just the occasional dick, joy and a sense of inner power is being found by online snarking and yet again bullying. You all know this, daily evidenced in that slightly nauseous feeling you get when you are on social media too long. The vibration of those attacking anyone and everything online is hideous, but here we all are if not partaking in it, allowing it simply by keeping the scroll going. Yes the algorithms are there to encourage and entice, again, blame what you like, but not entertaining the very thing that helps push people to the wall would be a really good start to saving lives. Sounds a little too simple doesn't it.But these micro doses of evil, targeted from that keyboard to anyone that differs in opinion, colour, income, religious belief, body shape beaming their way into the world in their billions and billions do damage that pushes people to the wall daily. They are like meth hits for those that participate, but the hit lasts only long enough for them to find the next unsuspecting victim to reign vitriol down on.
Everything I have written in this points to the fact that when we lose connection, when we stand in overwhelm and just cannot find that way out the chances of us taking our life increase massively. When we feel we are alone, that we have nothing to lose, when it feels like there is no where to run and hide. Most that do commit suicide have families, have friends and connections but have no way of communicating what they feel. Some feel so bad about themselves in the moment they believe themselves to be a burden to all of those around them. Why not find one person in your inner circle, just one, and make the pact, that if life gets too dark you will reach out to each other, even if it's in the form of a goodbye. That at least gives the other person time to help, to love to allow even the smallest amount of healing, which by all accounts has proven enough to divert the final act.
Over the period of covid I felt assaulted every time I heard the word 'kind'. No one was being kind. We were being encouraged to pimp on each other, not unlike a certain regime in the second world war. We were abused, punished and thrown under the bus under the guise of that word. The word was used to tear families apart. So I am going to use another.Why not, challenge yourself for just one day to lose your point of view. Instead of losing your sh.t on the road, or snarling at the woman taking too long in the queue, ignoring your neighbour, hiding behind your keyboard and being just outright mean, you do the opposite. You show some 'grace' , you acknowledge the human spirit for what it is. Imperfect yes, but forever vulnerable to what you as the other human does and says to it. So show them Grace. It works two fold, Spiritually if you show grace you are graced with grace... perfect for everyone. And holds more power than you can imagine.
We all need to feel needed, wanted and loved. The solution to Suicide is not the billions, it's not a change in government, although God does know that would help. :) It is the simple care we show towards the person next to us. It is the absence of ridicule, guilt shaming and disconnection. It is the gentle touch of another human, not a raised hand. For people to stop leaving us in the hundreds we have to remember we are society, we are the ones that hold the power to lose our point of view over the things we don't agree with. We have to want the healing more than the attention.
I have never met a person that hasn’t harboured the dark thoughts of suicide. It may be disguised in other terminology, but no one is immune to the darkness. Mostly when spoken about, clarity comes when you dig down and show how the shadows have been created by a situation, a person, an end. It brings forth its fleeting nature. It doesn’t make it any less dark, but it does bring into the light the power that others hold over us, in love, in family’s, in work, in friendships, in communities. And that power needs to be acknowledged, used with care and responsibility.
The solution lies in the choice that you make daily around how you treat others. That's it.
And if you change that one thing, God knows ( and he does) how many lives you will change with it.
Thank you for taking the time to read to here. X Please feel free to leave any comments or questions you may have .
Malcolm Gledwell – Talking to Strangers