“Suicide was tolerated by the Greeks and Romans (Alvarez, 1990), but Aristotle argued that suicide weakens the economy and upsets the gods, and in so-doing he initiated stigmatisation of the act” wrote the British Journal of Psychology. 

Well, fuck Aristotle. Fuck his gods. Fuck the economy – which has bigger problems of its own making.

Suddenly I was under water.

At the back end of 2015 things were going wrong. Worse still, I had no idea what to do to fix them. Everything was on top and it felt beyond me to even make a dent in the process of tackling the smallest of problems. But this didn’t drive me to try and take my own life. Nor did alcohol – which flows free when you own a pub. Oblivion is a gratuity, a privilege of position.

Circumstances aside, it came to the end of the worst week of takings. I locked up on a Monday night and sat down in the silent pub, drawn reflection staring back at me in the large mirrors behind the spirits. Idly, I flicked through the contacts list on my phone, wanting to talk to someone, anyone. Hundreds of names gathered over the years, hundreds of numbers. Acquaintances. Family. Friends. By the time of night alone I eliminated most potential recipients from the ‘who to call’ and that’s when the sadness set in. Of all those contacts, I would only entertain five of them (tops) as people I trusted. A handful of folks in a lifetime. Suddenly I was under water.

I’d never thought of myself as lonely, but that perfect darkness and silence set the tone for the rest of what happened. 

I desperately wanted to cry, it would have helped. I couldn’t. I shut that emotion down in the main after mum died in 2001, then through years of existing in ‘police mode’, where your own emotions can’t count or cloud your actions. The result of this, rather than an explosion of tears to release the intensity of the sad feelings, was that I managed one or two muffled gasps and swallowed the lump in my throat. Choked it down. Then I lost my temper with myself, angrily reaching for my one constant catharsis – a pen and paper. Predictably, even this went tits up and the page opened with the words “I hate myself…”

I did, I hated everything I’d done, everything I couldn’t fix. Despised the pathetic creature looking back at me from the mirror. Incapable of even basic emotional release. I wanted to kill it, so I fetched a length of rope and tied it to the rafters above the bar, made a noose and climbed up on the fridge.

The loose fibres scatched against my neck as I readied myself, heel kicking the bile filled note halfway under the till, where I forgot about it. I stepped forward and grabbed the rafter. It was Tuesday morning. My staff member would let herself in at 9 to Vax the carpets. I didn’t want her confronted with my swinging corpse, she was nice. Then I started to laugh.

I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt, which is no way to be found dead. And I hadn’t been to the loo either. The thought of coppers getting the necessary trauma giggles at my evacuated bowels was enough to make me take the noose off, climb down and tidy everything away.

I forgot the note.

By quarter past nine there came a gentle creaking on the stairs, my bedroom door swung inwards and a pale face peeked in. She nearly had a heart attack when she found me sat up, awake, staring back at her. With a trembling hand she passed me the note. “I thought…”

She had thought right, just not exactly right. I folded the note and put it in my wallet.

By the second attempt I hated myself for not only pussying out, failing to complete the original task, but for having placed such a look on another person’s face.

If you’ve got a problem with suicide, it’s your problem and you can go an fuck yourself along side Aristotle.

The circumstances around everything had worsened, the contacts list was the same empty handful. I was still lonely, still incapable of crying, but now utterly hated myself too. I cursed the weak reflection in the dark.

There was no rope, it had been used outside, so I looped up the rafters with CAT5 cable. Made a slip noose. I was still wearing jeans but had popped on a shirt and been to the toilet.

This time I was going to lean, as one of my victims once had, waiting to pass out with death to follow. No jump to hesitate at. I glanced in the mirror and told the loathsome thing to fuck itself and leaned until my neck was taking my body weight. The cable sawed into my jawline and my breathing cut off almost straight away. The darkness got darker. Blacker. Even the red and green spots behind closed eyes began to fade away. There was nothing.

Without warning my foot stamped down, reacting to little more than the ‘fall’ of falling asleep which catches you off guard sometimes. Suddenly the weight was off and light exploded. I was left gasping, sore-necked  and shocked. I might have hated myself but, on some level, my whole body realised this was temporary and took matters into its own hands. We are evolved to survive, after all. Like bacteria. Viruses.

I didn’t laugh this second time. I simply took the note from my wallet, placed it on my bedside table and told myself these were the worst days of my life. That every day afterwards would get a little better.

Had it not been for the mantra I would never have survived what came next. The losses. The failures. The collapse of it all.

Things have moved on, we’re almost a year down the line, and they are still the worst days. I still fall to pieces every now and then, still despise my reflection and barely like to see it. It’s a stranger who stares back these days. Sometimes I involuntarily retreat into the ten ringed circus of insecurities and fears in my mind, let them consume me. My once strong fight is still feeble by comparison, my self-confidence a wasteland, but those were the worst days and I will never let it get so bad again.

I never upset a god by doing this. Never impacted upon the economy. I’m not selfish. I’m not mad. And I’ll tell you something else too: I’m happy to talk about this, which makes me pretty fucking brave.

It was wrong to create a stigma about suicide. Society is wrong to perpetuate it. But what’s truly wrong is, in this day and age, people can be so well connected but still feel lonely and unable to communicate properly. One conversation would have kept the rope and the cable wrapped up.

If you’ve got a problem with suicide, it’s your problem and you can go an fuck yourself along side Aristotle.

As for me, I’ll be fine. I’ve had the worst days I’ll ever have.

JP.

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