I wrote a few weeks ago that I was going to go back to blogging, without the imperative to write every day or every second day, as I had been pushing myself to do. I then promptly disappeared off the face of the earth. This was not my intention, but life intervened in a painful way.
A close friend of mine committed suicide on October 24th. It hit me pretty hard. I spoke to him only hours before he died, and he was not doing well, but I didn’t realise how unhealthy his thinking had become. He was going through a breakup, and it wasn’t going easy on him. but I thought he had more resilience than he evidently had. I was so wrong.
I feel like I missed the signal that it was going to all go wrong. He said “I can’t live without her”; I told him that he needed to learn to. talking it over with friends before the event, we figured that it meant that he wasn’t going to let go, wasn’t going to give up on getting her back, and was being a bit melodramatic. He was a bit prone to melodrama, and I dismissed it as just more of the same old Scott way of talking. I was so wrong.
I do not feel responsible for his death, nor do I blame myself in any way, but I will always wonder if anything would have been different if I had recognised what he was saying as a credible suicide risk. I don’t think I could have saved him though. Scott Miller was a stubborn man, and when he got it into his head to do something, he would damn well do it and damn the consequences. Alongside that stubbornness is the fact that there would likely have been no professional support for an intervention. He would have needed sectioning and inpatient work in order to bring him back into a safe state of mind, and he was too with it, too together, to sane-looking to get real help (at least in my opinion, and from my experience).
It would likely have come down to emergency mental health services wanting me to stay with him and keep him safe for an unknown amount of time, through nights and possibly weekends, until a day team could slot him into a psychiatrist visit. From there, it is likely that he would have become my responsibility again between sporadic visits, until he became stable again or until I, and anyone else I had managed to recruit, broke under the pressure. Maybe it could have saved him, but I could not have paid the cost. I’ve done this before. Being responsible for the wellbeing of another person the way mental health emergency teams require of you is exhausting. Breaking my own mental health to save another sounds noble, but the consequences are extreme. And if he’d managed to die while I was caring for him or after I’d stopped? That would have crushed me.
So, even if I had read the warning signs correctly, I don’t think I could have made a difference. Scott Miller did what Scott Miller wanted to do, and nothing I realistically could have done would have changed that. His death still hits me very hard.
After the death, I stayed with his girlfriend and her flatmate and helped look after them and the myriad people that flowed through the house in the week between the death and the funeral. I did whatever I could to make it easier, and I stayed for part of the week after so that they were not suddenly alone. My husband looked after my home and the kids while I was gone, and I am forever grateful for that.
So that’s where I went for those few weeks. The reality of all this is still hitting me, and there are really bad days. Some days I forget he’s gone and go to link him to something and realise that no, he’s never going to see that link. He read this blog and it hurts that he’ll never read it again. He’ll never get in touch after I write something difficult and check that I’m ok. He’ll never disagree with something I wrote and get into an argument over it. He’ll never turn something I said into a dirty joke again. It hurts.
So I’m not going to commit to writing with any regularity, but I’ll try to not go three weeks with nothing. I’m planning on no-one I know shuffling off the mortal coil again any time soon, because I don’t know if I could handle it. I’m only doing one paper over the summer, so I should still have time to write occasionally, and hopefully mostly about things that aren’t my dear friend dying. Can’t guarantee that won’t come up a bit though.