Sunday, 3 December 2017

A suicide attempt for Christmas.

It's December.
The time of year when everyone's nerves are frayed, people are tired from a busy year and the so called festive season starts to ramp up.
For many, plans are made to spend time with family and friends, celebrations are organised and parties are planned.
For many others, there is the added stress of being expected to supply gifts to family members when supplying food and shelter for themselves is a daily struggle.
I don't particularly like Christmas, for many different reasons, none of which are because I'm a grinch.
One reason is that Christmas is primarily a religious celebration and I have no time for religion in my life. I accept other peoples beliefs but I don't subscribe to any of them myself.
Another reason is that for me, the tradition of Christmas died with my Dad back in 1993.
Possibly the biggest reason, but one that I'd sort of forgotten about or my brain had chosen to bury, I made a brief mention of in my book.
This is the first time I've ever shared any more detail about it.
It was a Christmas day some time in the mid 90's although I can't pinpoint the actual year.
After a day of excessive drinking, things turned ugly between my younger brother Brett and myself and we actually squared up to fight.
Rather than fight, Brett got in his car and drove off. 

Fast forward to the following morning and we met up again to play a game of social cricket, something we did every year back then. We played social twilight cricket every Wednesday evening, but this was the premium event of the year. Wives, girlfriends, kids, everyone came along. Our version of a boxing day test match, which was really just 30 or so mates and their families getting together and taking over a local park for a day of drinking, BBQing with a bit of cricket thrown in for fun.

Anyway, that morning Brett and I discussed the events of the day before, agreed that it was 'just the piss talking', shook hands and without explanation he handed me his prized role of wicket keeper for the day - which incidentally became my role for the next couple of years.
I thought at the time it was pretty weird, but didn't question it.
The day proceeded as planned, lot's of alcohol, BBQ's going all day, kids playing and having fun, happiness all over the place.

Later that evening, I learned something from my ex wife when she came to pick up the kids that with the benefit of hindsight, should have been addressed right then but it wasn't.

She told me that Brett had attempted to take his own life after our altercation the day before.

As was typical of our environment back then, under the carpet it went.
As close as I was to my brother Brett, it was never discussed, not once.
I kick myself now, but at the time I wrote it off as a 'half assed' attempt and deemed it not worthy of discussion. Of course, with the benefit of hindsight and everything I've learned over the past four years I would love to jump in the DeLorean and head back there to have another crack at it, but that can't happen.

All of this resurfaced during my journey of self discovery after Brett did succeed in ending his own life in September 2013.
That journey backwards through Brett's life - which was also to a large degree my own life -  showed me so many things that could have been done differently.
The lessons I learned on that journey have shaped me into the person I am today.
Anyone who knew me five years ago probably doesn't really know me now.
My evolution is incomplete, I'm always learning.

My hope is that this can be a lesson for others.
The people closest to us are often the ones we take the least notice of.
Complacency can be dangerous.
Comfort zones can cause blindness when it comes to those closest to us.
Step outside.

Wendy and I have chosen to spend this Christmas alone.

For me it will be a time for quiet reflection.

Saturday, 25 November 2017

What will you do with all the money?

This was a question asked of me yesterday.

Let me explain.
I've been absent from my own life for two days now. I've been away in my cave, mulling over some things, planning some things, making sense of some stuff and just generally being everywhere but present in my own life.
That's how I roll sometimes.
I'm lucky to have Wendy, my wife, who knows when I'm absent and leaves me to it.
I try my best not to snap but sometimes I do. Sorry.
When I'm like this I pretty much just fuck off and do things on my own.

I've been thinking a lot about the book, the web site and all the things Wendy and I contribute to financially or otherwise in an effort to make the world, or at least a small part of it, a better place.
I've been thinking a lot about Brett, his suicide and everything that's happened to get me to where I am in my life.
None of this has been with any grand plan I've been working toward, it's just been my train of thought. In saying that, I have been planning in my mind the content of the series of short videos I'm going to do do soon.
I'm struggling a bit with how hard to go in because frankly, I think it's time the slumbering masses were awoken with a jolt.
I need to figure out how hard the initial jolt needs to be.

Yesterday, we had a visit from a local fella who's done some work around our place and the conversation drifted onto the fact that my book is in the local bookshop.
It went like this:
'Your book?'
'Yes, the book I wrote about my brother's suicide'.
'YOU'VE' written a book?'
Right here I felt like asking how come that was such a big surprise but I didn't.
'Yes, I've written and self published a book about my brothers suicide and our journey through the aftermath, all self funded'.
There was a period of silence before this question came at me.

'What will you do with all the money?'

I responded by telling him that should we ever recover the cost of producing the book, which is unlikely, any excess would be poured back into suicide prevention or assisting other people on their journey through the aftermath.

Let me be clear.
There is NO money.
There might never be any money and that's OK, none of this is about money.
The only money there is has been spent by Wendy and I (from our own pockets) to do the things we've done, the production of the book included.
I've never asked anyone for a cent.
I don't like crowd funding, I have my reasons and I don't have to justify them.
I'm not part of any charity or charitable trust, nor do I want to be.

Wendy and I contribute heavily to several different areas of suicide prevention, awareness and mental well being initiatives. Things that we believe in.
We will continue to do this.
I will never contribute to any charity that has a full time crowd funding page in operation or constantly asks for donations and then doesn't engage with anyone who dares to think differently than they do.

I'm the guy who donates to things I believe in.
I'm not the guy with his hand out asking for donations.

Real, invisible suicide prevention is free.
It costs nothing to be a decent human being.

If the world suddenly became perfect and all mental health issues were under control, services functioned properly and suicide no longer existed, I would still have an income.

I'm not in it for the money.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Effective suicide prevention is probably invisible.

When I look a the whole issue of suicide in New Zealand all I see is confusion, compounded by lot's of people running around saying a lot but really achieving little.
I see charities and charitable trusts running different? courses and workshops to teach people about suicide prevention.
I see individuals running up and down the country claiming to have all the answers, refusing to collaborate with anyone else and in some cases ridiculing and writing off other peoples ideas and views.
I see bored people.
I seem to see more and more hands out asking for donations.

Most of all, I see people not taking any notice of anything because it doesn't affect them.
Those words right there are the key in my opinion.
If it doesn't affect them directly, people don't care, they switch off.

Don't get me wrong, anything and everything that is being done by groups or individuals with a view to preventing suicide can't be a bad thing, unless the motivation behind is either to do with ego or money.

Personally, I have nothing other than opinion and what I've learned along the way.
I've never attended any suicide prevention workshops or courses and to be honest, I'm not sure that I ever will.
I will attempt to explain the reasons why.
When it comes to suicide, we generally get bombarded with two words.
Awareness and Prevention.
I believe that everyone is aware of suicide, but until it directly effects them, it's just a word or something that happens to other people.
When we talk about prevention, people are frightened off because they think it means taking the rope off someone, wrestling the gun or the blade from their hand or physically pulling them back from the cliff edge.
There's the issue.
People don't understand what Suicide Prevention means.

To me, and I've said this a hundred times before, effective suicide prevention is probably invisible.
Of course, there will always be those people who through no fault of anyone's succumb to illnesses of the mind, just like there will always be those who succumb to physical illness and I openly admit that I have no real interest in that side of things.
My interest is in what can be changed.

I believe that when people hear the words 'suicide prevention' the first picture that comes to mind is that of a person who is right on the edge, about to end their own life, which is why people shy away from it.
Real suicide prevention needs to start a long way before this point.

Invisible suicide prevention.
I believe that with the education of children and adolescents, the suicide numbers can be reduced. Not 100% prevented, but significantly reduced.
If young minds can be educated and nurtured to be accepting of everyone else and all their differences, other young minds might feel less separated or alone.
With the learning of some coping strategies for dealing with different emotional situations, people will be more resilient when bad times hit.
With simple human kindness and empathy, we may be unwittingly preventing future suicides.

Over the coming months I'm going to launch into a small campaign I'm working on to expand on all of this.
I just think the runaway train needs to be knocked off it's rails because frankly it seems to be thundering along to the station of nowhereville, and it's in a real hurry to get there.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Mainstream media and suicide

When it comes to mainstream media and the topic of suicide, unless you're a paid professional or have a high public profile, being heard is pretty much impossible.

When I decided on a release date for my book Suicide; Aftermath and Beyond I sent emails to every mainstream media house I could think of.
Some of them I attempted to contact multiple times.
The response was a resounding silence. Nothing. Nothing at all.
All I wanted was someone to do a small article on my book and outline the reasons why I wrote it and why I believe it can help a few people.
But, alas, nobody was the slightest bit interested.
Not even enough to reply to tell me to go away.

Except for one.
When I contacted Duncan Garner some time ago to inquire about getting on his AM show to tell a different side of the story to what's usually told via his usual guest stars, I was initially met with silence and when I kept inquiring I was met with a response that told me 'I would get you on the show but frankly you're coming across as a bit aggressive' and it finished up pretty much telling me to 'fuck off'.
And so it goes.
But hey, at least he took the time to tell me to fuck off, nobody else did!
So, in that moment the high regard in which I held Duncan instantly became the opposite.

Until another famous person dies by suicide, all the mainstream media will be interested in are suicide stories about conflict.
Stories that sell newspapers or bait people to click links using sensational headlines.
They may even run the odd story here and there featuring the same person/people saying the same old stuff while advocating for change. 

I've now completely quit trying to get any mainstream media outlet interested in anything I have to say.
My book is not for profit, it's all been funded out of my own pocket and all I don't really care if I don't even cover the cost of it all, it's not about that.
I just want people to see a different side of the suicide story, one that doesn't start and finish with the mental health system and how it's failing everyone. 
A story that's not one of depression and mental illness, but about suicide through the eyes of an ordinary New Zealander, not a celebrity.

My book, through some great advice and some effort, is starting to make it's way into public libraries which gives me confidence that it will be read and it might even help a few people.
I'm waiting to hear back from a couple of distributors too, hopefully someone wants to run with it.

So, mainstream media, this is where you and I part ways.
I will not make any more approaches, because despite what you all portray, you don't actually care.
If it doesn't increase your ratings, sell a paper, or get a click you don't care.

If any media person reads this, feel free to make contact.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

World Suicide Prevention Day. 10th September 2017

10th September is world suicide prevention day.
If I'm honest, I really don't know what that means.
Nobody really seems to care, unless it affects them directly.

I haven't written a blog post for a couple of weeks, since I posted about the latest (abysmal) New Zealand suicide statistics which were released at the end of August.
As I suspected, now the dust has settled a bit, the mainstream media have pretty much dropped that subject in favour of other stuff which is more palatable to a starving public.
It seems that the media aren't interested in anything that isn't either sensational, criminal, celebrity, sporting or political.
Sadly, when it comes to suicide, unless it's a celebrity who died, a celebrity talking about it, a political argument, a failing system or something to do with money, the mainstream media won't touch it.
The media thrive on conflict rather than solution/resolution.

So, suicide prevention.
What is it?
There seems to be a common misconception that it involves the pulling of a person back from the edge, wrestling the gun from their hands, taking the rope off them or somehow preventing the person from going through with it at that moment.
I believe that could be why people shy away from talking about it.
That's not what it means.
Suicide prevention in my humble, unqualified, uneducated opinion, can be much simpler.
What if you could do something months or even years before a person reaches the point where they no longer want to live - would you do it?
What if you could do something but it meant you would never, ever know whether it had a positive influence on a persons thinking, would you do it?
What if you could do something that would see you receive absolutely no reward for doing it, but it might have a positive influence on another person for years to come, would you be able to do that?
Or are you too selfish?

The most simple form of suicide prevention is within reach of everyone.
Just be a decent person, show a little kindness and expect nothing in return.
A smile, a nod. A back slap.
Simple acts of kindness can be all a person who doesn't see much of it needs.

Tomorrow, 10th September will be a day of reflection for me, the last couple of weeks have been draining for me mentally.
With the book Suicide; Aftermath and Beyond becoming available, the 4th anniversary of Brett's suicide and one of our employees Dad taking his own life in the UK all falling on 1st September, it's fair to say I was overloaded emotionally.

I have a few ideas rattling around in my head and once the election is over and the political landscape in New Zealand becomes whatever it is to become, I will decide which direction I go in.
I suspect we are going to see some major political upheaval after 23rd September and the formation of the new government may not be as clear cut as it should be.

If I go in any direction at all.

Monday, 28 August 2017

Six hundred and Six (Opinion, and lots of it)

That's how many New Zealanders chose suicide in the last 12 months according to the provisional statistics released today by the coroners office.
I'm not really too interested in demographics, suicide is suicide regardless of what box society had them in.
I'm not surprised at the increase in numbers, I've been mumbling for a long time that I believe the numbers will increase before they decrease, if they ever do decrease.
The truth is, I'm surprised it isn't higher. It probably is higher in reality.

Once again, every mainstream news media outlet appears to have climbed on board the news story train telling us all what many of us already know.
It's too high.
It's bad.
We need to do more.
And in another week it will be just another story buried in an archive only to be viewed by a few.

Yes, we do need to do more, but frankly, the areas where everyone is screaming for more to be done might not be where it needs to be done.
Sure, New Zealand's mental health services do indeed appear to be in crisis and largely inadequate.
Why is that?
Could it be because people are constantly pushed toward services that already can't cope before they arrive on the doorstep which means failure is imminent?
I have no clue as to what the answer to that might be but it's patently obvious to me that nobody has the solution to the mental health systems inadequacies, otherwise they would be getting better.

So, now I await the statements from all the same people who claim to have the blueprint for change.
The blueprint for a reduction in the number of suicides.
The blueprint for success.
I don't have it, never will have it, and don't believe anyone else has it either.
Because I don't believe there is one.

I believe the time is coming for hidden agendas, if there are any, to be exposed.
I'm a long way from a conspiracy theorist, but to me, there's just too much that doesn't quite add up.

I appreciate that the way I view all this isn't how most people view it and I know I open myself up to attack, but come on New Zealand.
Change can only start at the bottom, it's too late to try and fudge things around somewhere in the middle.
It's too late when someone is dead.
Suicide is not all about mental illness and depression.
Everyone needs to step off that bandwagon, the biggest, realest problems might have nothing to do with mental illness.

We cannot win the game after the final whistle has blown, we need to change the game plan.

Take a good hard look at yourself. Could you do more?
Take a good hard look at your own children.
Your grandchildren.
Teach them to bounce.
Teach them to be resilient.
Teach them that they will endure hard times and it's OK, we all do, but they with some support they don't last. Support them through the tough times.
Teach them they are valuable.
Teach them that it's OK to love and lose.
Teach them that pain is part of being.
Allow them to learn their own lessons, in their own time.
Love them but allow them to breath and grow.

If we can start fresh with the newest generation maybe there is a chance for them and their children.
We can all look hard at the reflection in the mirror and change the one person looking back at us.
That might just be enough.

I'm not an expert in any of this.
I'm just a guy with opinions, thoughts. stories and ideas based on real life experience and real life conversations with other people who've experienced similar things.
I'm not trying to save the world, too many other people are busy doing that.

Sadly, when it comes to suicide, all it is for many people is someone else's problem.
One day, it might not be.
And you're not ready for that, I sure wasn't.

Saturday, 26 August 2017

The calm before .....more calm?

It's a week out from my book being available.
For the past few weeks it's been available for pre-order at a reduced cost, prior to the actual release, with only a handful of orders.
The cost of purchasing it is to cover the cost of creating it, which I've explained a few times now so I won't explain it all again unless I'm asked a direct question.
It's not about money, it's about raising awareness and helping other people.

I'm not having a big launch for the book, even though I tried my hardest to get the attention of mainstream media to help me do that.
I wanted to have some sort of launch, but nobody wanted to help and the only response I got was to tell me 'I'm very busy at the moment'.
I've never been one to pursue avenues that lead nowhere.

Living through the aftermath of a suicide is never easy for anyone, although there do seem to be different degrees of difficulty for different people and different losses.
But, it's not a competition, we all deal with things differently.

Since my journey of understanding and self discovery began almost four years ago, I've learned a lot.
I've learned a lot about people and what makes them tick. In essence, human beings are largely selfish and despite what we all portray, we really do want what's best for us firstly as individuals, with what we want for others secondary.
I've admitted before and I'll admit it here again, I'm quite materialistic. I like nice things and I've worked hard to get to a place where I can have the things I like and want.
Everyone likes nice things and I believe everyone is materialistic, but only a few will admit to it.

I've learned that much of life comes down to choices.
We all make poor choices during our lives, personally, I've made plenty!
Sadly, many poor choices don't become the lessons they need to be and lives become endless cycles of the same poor decisions being made with the expectation of different results.
Repeating the same mistake over and over will never yield a different result.

When it comes to suicide, I have certain views which don't quite suit the mainstream ideals and the ways that the powers that be are brainwashing the masses into thinking.
I believe I've struggled to gain any traction in the mainstream because of it and that's OK, I won't conform to impossible ideals just because self proclaimed experts say 'this is the way, this is the truth'.
I will remain true to myself and my beliefs.
What I have a hard time understanding is how these self proclaimed experts can continually have the masses spell bound, hanging off their every word, while continuing to make no difference to the number of suicides whatsoever.
Perhaps, in more instances than anyone cares to admit, suicide isn't really preventable.

These days I see myself as a realist, a little bit rough around the edges, a fair distance outside the proverbial box. Perhaps a wee bit opinionated too.
I don't need to fit in, I don't need to agree with things I don't believe because someone says I should.

It appears to me that a lot of what's going on in the name of mental health and suicide prevention is really just a few people criticising the actual efforts of others with the sole intention of getting their disciples to either comment supportively or click the 'like' button.

Constantly pointing out perceived problems does not create a solution.

While others focus on the prevention of suicide, I've always had more interest in the aftermath of it.
When a person chooses suicide, for them, it's over. The suffering, the pain, whatever their problems were, perceived or real, it's over.
That's one persons problems solved.
But, for that one person ending their own pain and suffering, a ripple of pain is created with countless people affected by it. That's where things are the realist.
That's where I live.

Reality central.
Population negligible.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Carrying some anxiety and me.

About three years ago, I learned something about myself that helped me to make sense of countless situations during my fifty three years on this planet.
I learned this after a consultation with my doctor which I had gone to because I thought I was dying.
After Brett's suicide, I struggled to hold it together, no question.
Outwardly I portrayed everything expected of a typical Kiwi male while internally I was an absolute shambles and nothing made any sense. And I mean nothing.
My mind kept trying to convince me that nothing really mattered. Whenever I tried to focus, my mind would tell me something like 'Brett's dead, who cares about work'. Or 'Who cares if you upset someone, Brett's dead'.
In a sense, my mind was trying to convince me that because my younger brother chose to exit by suicide, nothing mattered any more.
By and large, I managed to hold it together.
For about six months or so after Brett died, my mind was constantly trying to get me to self destruct by convincing me that because Brett was dead, nothing mattered, the entire world could effectively go fuck itself.
Many, many times I found myself giving in to these thoughts and countless times I set about self destructing with copious amounts of alcohol....sometimes in company, sometimes alone.
I digress......
I explain a bit more about this in my book, but somewhere along the line I was forced to go to the doctor because I was regularly struggling to get enough oxygen into my lungs and I genuinely thought my time was up. I actually started to believe I had succeeded in my mission of self destruction.
Realising that something was messing with my mojo, and also with the threat of GBH from my wonderful wife Wendy if I didn't, I took myself along to the doctor.
Long story short, after a long conversation and some straight shooting honesty on my part, I was introduced to my lifelong partner in crime.
Mr Anxiety. I also learned that Mr Anxiety had a mate he sometimes brought with him.
Mr Panic Attack. What a fun guy he is!
Until this moment, I was completely unaware that anxiety had been a part of my life forever.
But, as I journeyed backward through my brother Brett's life to try and make sense of his suicide, I started remembering situations where social anxiety had destroyed occasions and situations throughout my whole life.
As a kid, I was socially awkward, didn't quite fit in, preferred a small group to a crowd, was always too scared to speak in a group.
Nothing was any different as a teenager but for the fact that I discovered a way to be a social butterfly.
Alcohol. Alcohol was the lubrication that allowed me to fit in.
As an adult, much the same pattern continued.
I won't go into too much more detail because frankly, it's my personal business and to go right into it would mean bringing other people in and I'm not prepared to do that.

Once I learned what was going on, the next thing I needed to do was learn how to manage it.
I'm not a drug taker and having tried counseling some years earlier, I didn't feel that was an option for me either.
I worked hard on myself and pushed my personal boundaries right to their limits. The biggest part of this was sharing what I'd learned firstly with my wife Wendy, and then with my son Dylan whom I was working with every day at the time. The simple act of sharing what was happening actually started to make the occurrences of it lesser, and when it did rear it's head, it was easier to see it off.
These days, I can talk about it to whoever wants to listen and I can manage it.

I learned that while alcohol allowed me to be extremely social, the following few days after a bender my anxiety levels were through the roof because I was constantly worrying about what I'd said or done to offend or upset anyone that I couldn't remember.

Quitting alcohol twenty months ago presented some new issues for me.
How would I ever be able to be among groups of people sober?
The truth is that yes, it is more difficult, but it is doable. I now find humour in watching people slowly get drunk, the funniest thing ever for me is talking to a drunk person who knows I'm sober so pretends to be sober too. These days I almost look for that guy to entertain me.
But there is a limit to the entertainment and I do struggle to be around very drunk people.

I refuse to say I suffer with anxiety, because I don't.
It's a part of me and I embrace it. There's no point denying it, or trying to hide it. That only makes it worse.
Nowadays, I don't know if Mr Anxiety visits less, or if I've become good at managing his bullshit.
His mate Mr Panic Attack must have died or something, because he never comes around any more.

When Mr Anxiety does call in, I just ride the waves. He only visits these days when I'm in a situation where I need to be among a large group of people and I can control him relatively easily.

While I prefer to be at home living a quiet life, I can also cope with the social situations I need to be in sometimes with a simple ritual.
I give Mr Anxiety a call beforehand and give him a message.

'I own you, you will never own me'.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Crystal ball gazing.....

With the new web site about to go live and the release of the book looming, I find myself reflecting on everything that has led me to where I am today.
My thoughts are constantly drifting back to the day Brett decided to exit this realm and these days, I find it easier to think about.
I think a lot about the relationship Brett and I had, growing up so close together and yet seemingly so far apart.
Bothers in arms, fighting side by side, fighting each other, having each others backs whether right or wrong.
Poles apart behind the curtains.

I still ask the questions.
Could I have done more?
Should I have done more?
What more could have been done?
While I still ask the questions, these days I'm not so hung up on finding the answers. I accepted certain things a long while ago and the letting go of the burdens of guilt and anger have been liberating.
I guess the answers to the questions may never really be known, but for me it was important for my own sanity to find answers that worked for me.
I found those answers and ultimately, I found peace.

So now, as well as drifting back into the memory banks and reminiscing in solitude, I find myself looking forward into the future and wondering where I go from here.
It's been a long and tiring road thus far and I really am scared beyond explanation about what lies immediately ahead which will undoubtedly meet with some harsh criticism and honestly, I'm not sure I'm ready for that.
The intention was to bring a dark subject into the light and if that means copping a bit of flak, so be it.
It still doesn't mean I'm ready for it!

The topic of suicide is never an easy one to talk about and there are literally thousands of people out there telling us all we need to talk about it. And we do.
There are still so many archaic ways of thinking, the way forward is still as murky as all fuck. I can't see what the future holds but I can see and I still hear the typical macho bullshit talk about how the people who take their own life are selfish. They are weak. They didn't consider the people they were leaving behind.
If you've ever uttered any of these words, try this:
You, motherfucker are the selfish one. In saying things like this, you have no consideration for the person who has taken their own life, you are wrapped up in your own learned beliefs. You are the weak one, you are merely passing on your pearls of wisdom because you believed what someone told you and it was easier to continue the cycle of ignorance than it was to become informed.

The way forward for me is the same as it's always been I guess.
One foot in front of the other, there is really no other way.

Wendy and I are having a week in Rarotonga towards the end of August, we need to take a break, clear the cache and recharge a bit.
I personally need a little time to recollect my thoughts away from civilisation and distraction.

I don't have a crystal ball, but I do know this:
Wherever I go from here, it will be because I chose to go there.
It won't be because I followed someone who is lost.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

What's it all about...?

I've been asked a few times lately 'what's your book about?'

The best way I can explain it is right here, which includes the blurb which will be on the the back cover.
Please refrain from offering criticism at least until you've read the book.
I should also point out that I don't claim to be an expert in anything at all and if I were to subscribe to what society deems acceptable I am uneducated. I have no qualifications from my school days whatsoever, I failed everything. 

I've long believed that when it comes to suicide, too much emphasis is on the mind illness side of things and the encouraging of people to seek help from medical professionals who are more than happy to feed them meals of mind altering drugs, which I appreciate can work for many but when it becomes the 'first option' I believe we're on a slippery slope to chaos.
Especially so when we're talking about medicating children (the future)
I believe the number of suicides each year will increase or retain a similar level for the foreseeable future before a noticeable trend of decreasing numbers starts to occur, if the numbers ever decrease at all.
Until children can be taught different ways of coping with all the crap life will throw at them instead of being wrapped in cotton wool and ill equipped to cope emotionally with setbacks that should be easily overcome, nothing will change.
Forget about logarithms, Pythagoras theorem, religious studies and much more of the crap kids are forced to swallow. They can choose this stuff later if they want to. 
Teach them some emotional intelligence. 
Surely an emotionally stable, well balanced kid will be a much more successful adult than a medicated zombie who became that way because they couldn't concentrate on lessons that don't matter.

Adults also need to realise and appreciate what's actually important. It's not a game of rugby, a yacht race, a box of beer or a bag of dope. It's not how much alcohol a man can drink or who he can smash over in a fight that matters. 
What really matters are other human beings.
Everywhere I look I see broken families full of venom and hate for one another and people treading all over other people to get what they want. Human beings have become so selfish that society itself is a shambles and many people just can't cope with it any more and choose to exit.

There's far too much entitlement in the world. Politicians constantly lie to us because all they are really doing is what's best for themselves using our money. We are bombarded from every angle with global 'news' which is little more than stories about how much human beings hate other human beings.

Until human beings can be united, nothing will ever change.


Back cover blurb:

‘I believe we need to quit the approach in which we quietly come in through the frilly pink curtains and talk about suicide carefully so as not to cause upset or offend anyone.

‘I’m saying we should fire up the bulldozer, smash it through the wall and start yelling:

‘“Let’s talk about suicide and how much it sucks.”’

This book is the story of the tragic death by suicide of Paul Lynch’s brother Brett and the devastating effect it had on his family. It is also a powerful plea for us to face up to suicide as an issue and acknowledge that the way we’re dealing with it at the moment isn’t working.

‘If my story can prevent a person, or people, from leaving their family and friends to deal with the aftermath of their suicide and all that goes with it,’ says Paul Lynch,’ then I will consider that to be a success.’

‘Paul has a way of putting you in someone else’s shoes with his writing, very mind opening.’
Owen, Piopio

‘A no-holds-barred account of the true effects of suicide.” David, Tauranga

Friday, 21 July 2017

Such a waste of limitless talent...and a message

This morning I read the news of Chester Bennington from the band Linkin Park dying by suicide.
I've always liked their style, I really like songs that have a message in them, story songs if you like, and they did a few songs that I could really relate to.
I also loved the way they blended rock and rap, with Chester's powerful voice overlapping with Mike Shinoda's raps - I can't really explain that, it just worked for me. And millions of others.

So, when Wendy told me this morning that Chester had lost his battle with whatever demons he was fighting for some reason it actually hit me in the feels. That's not really like me.
I subsequently read every article I could find on the internet about it.
To sum it up, Wendy got it right.
"I just don't get it, it's such a fuckin' waste'
And of course, she is right.
It is a tragic waste of limitless talent.

What it does for me is really brings home the fact that suicide and everything that leads people to it doesn't discriminate.
Suicide doesn't care if you're successful and wealthy or if you're down and out destitute.
It doesn't care if you are gainfully employed and widely respected or living on the streets starving.
Suicide couldn't give a fuck if you're a hugely talented artist idolised by millions of adoring fans.

To think that suicide can't touch you is being extremely naive.
Nobody has immunity, this game of life isn't some fucked up reality show where everyone gets to go home to their cosy houses after pretending to be stranded on a desert island for the sole purpose of entertaining others, life is real and for many it's a constant struggle.
Despite the outward appearances people portray, nobody really knows what other people are battling every day of their lives. Unless, of course, people share these battles with others and in the process form armies to defeat the internal enemies.

The suicide deaths of peoples heroes can be a constant reminder to us all that life isn't a walk in the park for many.
Even those who seemingly 'have it all' can be struggling with the same internal enemies that 'ordinary' people battle every single day.

Look around you, wherever you are.
That homeless guy in the shop doorway, the flash looking guy in the designer suit, the lady who appears to believe her shit doesn't stink, the fella with all the tattoos wearing a gang patch, the kid riding a skateboard, the guy at the bar who's drunk as fuck and falling all over the place, the girl who is crying, the flash movie star, the rock star, the people you live with.
Your family.
All of these people could be fighting internal battles you know nothing about.

So, don't be blind to it.
Suicide can affect you at any moment of any day.
If you are fighting an internal war, share it with someone you trust.
Sharing could save a life.
Perhaps even your own.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Something about stones and glass houses.....

I realise that it's an election year but fuck me days, this is the strangest build up to an election I can remember!
Of course, being an election year, a little mud slinging is to be expected, but thanks to the rapid rise in the use of social media as a soap box, everyone and anyone can have their say on whatever subject they wish.
Yes, I include myself in that statement, I make no secret of the fact that I fucking love social media!
It's also true that a few years ago, a lot of what I posted was negative and pretty much just me whinging about this and that.
I'd like to think that these days I've turned that completely around, because people can change.

From the angle I'm seeing everything these days, it appears to me that as a people, we've turned into a country of judgmental fools.
A political party leader has come out and admitted that they committed fraud against WINZ (or whatever it was called 25 years ago when it happened) and now the posse is being hastily assembled and the lynch mob (no pun intended) is about to ride out.
Should this person be held accountable?
Perhaps, but turning this into a public stoning will only achieve one thing. It will take the entire emphasis of everybody's campaign away from the real issues this country needs to address.
It's almost smelling like a planned media release although I can't think what the motivation for it would be.

A few weeks ago, some pretty sticky, smelly mud was slung by an individual about the deputy leader of a political party and thousands of people climbed on board the hate train and howled for blood. I have no clue as to the validity of any of the claims made but I do know this. I actually don't care!
I am however, fairly certain that if indeed some of the claims were true, they would surely have surfaced long before now....wouldn't they?
Does it mean they're not able to do the job they've been elected to do?
News Flash: That's the reason we have elections.

I've made plenty of mistakes and I've been involved in some pretty sketchy shit during my life and I've been held to account for some of it.
But that was me a long time ago and many of the people who know me now didn't know that guy.
Now, I dedicate much of my time to trying to do good, project a bit of positivity in a fucked up world and try to help others to focus on the good things.

The point is, we need to stop climbing on board the judgment express.
Stop passing judgement on and condemning people you don't know for things you know nothing about.
People in the public eye are easy targets and some of them don't help themselves with their actions, but that's sort of the point.
They're human beings, just like you and I and they have made and will continue to make mistakes.

Every single human has a past, a present and a future.
Why waste your present attacking someone else' past?
Use you present to determine your future.

So, pick up that stone if you want to.
But, before you throw it, take a good look in the mirror.
Is the person you see there clean enough to throw it?

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Breaking up with a mistress.

Today has been one of quiet reflection.
The weather here in Oxford has been a little chilly, but beautifully calm and clear blue sky. I suspect we're in for a decent frost in the morning.

As I quietly work toward the release of my book Suicide; Aftermath and beyond in early September and my web site being set to go live mid August, I'm constantly swimming around inside my own head exploring my thoughts and wondering what we can do as human beings and as New Zealanders to address not only the high rates of suicide in New Zealand, but the high rates of other things too.
New Zealanders and I guess human beings in general, are no strangers to passionate love affairs with everything that's bad for them.
It's almost like human beings are equipped with a self destruct mechanism as standard, and to over-ride it takes a conscious decision by the individual.
It's long been the Kiwi way to drink copious amounts of alcohol and, to choose not to indulge places you quite some distance outside what the majority deem to be 'normal'.
Domestic and sexual violence has always been relatively common, although until the last decade or so, it's been a topic that's largely left behind the closed doors where it's occurring.
Driving drunk was once accepted as relatively normal.
Alcohol abuse can and does contribute directly toward many suicides.
The film Once were warriors thrust many of these issues into the spotlight back in 1994.

So, when my mind wanders off down these sorts of paths, I try to relate what I see along the way to my own life and ultimately come up with ideas that might benefit others.
I've made no secret of the fact that my whole life I have lived with social anxiety issues which until a few years ago I had no idea were even a thing. When my wife Wendy and I discovered my younger brother after he had made the decision to end his own life, the inside of my head was effectively turned to mush.
I functioned perfectly well when it came to keeping up appearances, largely helped along by the copious amounts of alcohol I was consuming, but on the inside, I was a fucking shambles.
I go into that a bit more in my book, but I won't here.

In a nutshell, alcohol was always the lubricant I used to allow me to fit into social situations.
I used it to enable sleep, to celebrate, to commiserate.
But it also came with with side effects.

So, where am I heading with this?
I now look at my body and my entire being as a machine.
In order to function efficiently, the machine requires the correct fuel.
I knew that the machine wasn't functioning properly for more reasons than I care to count and I will go into them in other blog posts, but let's start here.

Firstly, alcohol was fucking up the machine in the sense that when it was flooded with alcohol it let people down, it did poor work, it was constantly sluggish, lethargic and just generally not fit for purpose.
But, none of that was enough to stop me abusing the machine.
When Wendy told me one night that I was frightening her when I was in the grips of an alcohol fueled meltdown, I knew that something need to change.
It didn't change instantly, but eventually, I realised that for a number of reasons, the mistress that was alcohol and I had to go our separate ways.
And on 13th the December 2015, we did. I told mistress alcohol she couldn't be a part of my life any more and kicked her out.
I still see her around a lot with other people, but I feel nothing for her any more.

It appears to me that until a person reaches a point where they really, truly know that they need to change a part of themselves, it won't ever happen.
Then, even more difficult than that, the person needs to want to change it.

Do I miss my old mistress?
Sometimes, yes I do. I miss the social aspect of being with her because frankly, when in a group of people I'm completely fucking useless at any interaction.
Anxiety is a mistress I can keep at bay but I don't think I'll ever be completely rid of her.

But, I can live with that because truth be told, I prefer solitude anyway.
Unfortunately, I'm one of the few.

I have no issue with alcohol or anyone who like a few drinks.
I'm not some crazy ass former drinker who hates anyone having a few drinks, I'm quite the opposite.
What I find sad though, is that what I just wrote here could be said of thousands of other people.

I guess I'm fortunate that I was able to see through the bullshit and the lies unfaithful mistress was telling me.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Going backwards to go forward

 As usual, the following is only my opinion.

Why is it that in New Zealand and indeed all over the world, more and more people being encouraged to seek help and get treatment for depression?
While I don't question the existence of mind illnesses like depression, I do question the ease with which they seem to be diagnosed.
I appreciate and understand that many people do indeed suffer with debilitating illnesses of the mind and they absolutely need help possibly in the form of a combination of medication and therapy.
I also appreciate and understand that for many it may be something that they need help and support with for their entire lives which means that effectively, they must learn to live with it.
Sadly, many can't live with it ultimately take their own lives.
There is no doubt that systems and services are so overwhelmed with 'patients' that they are unable to cope and failings are occurring.
I do, however wonder if the systems and services are overloaded with 'patients' who don't need to be there.
I'm referring to all those who are encouraged to seek help for a 'condition' they may not even have.
Someone who's experiencing a bad time in their life isn't necessarily experiencing depression.
Someone who's going through the breakdown of a relationship isn't necessarily experiencing depression.
Temporary sadness is not depression.

Effectively, in my untrained but observant opinion, people - particularly young people - are being encouraged and coached into seeking help for anything and everything to do with growing and maturing and it's being turned into mental illness. And medicated.
Children on anti depressant medication and other powerful drugs.
To my mind, drugging children who are probably experiencing the beginning of puberty can never be a good thing. A child who is in the process of changing from a child to an adult is experiencing changes not only physically, but mentally as well and trying to alter their mindset with drugs can only cause issues further along the road.
This can be said of both illegal and prescription drugs.

Rather than telling everyone it's OK to ask for help - which of course it is if it's really needed - perhaps it's time to look at the reasons why people, particularly young people, feel that they need help in the first place.
Address the bullying in schools. Address the arguably outdated education system. Teach kids from a young age that throughout their lives they won't always win. They won't always succeed and that's OK.
Teach them that in order to achieve anything, they need to put in the effort. Nothing is going to magically appear in front of them without some hard work.
Teach them that the likelihood of that first boyfriend/girlfriend ever lasting forever is almost zero, and that's OK.
Teach them that it's OK to be different than everyone else.
Teach them that it's OK for other people to be different than them.
Teach them that it's OK to have different interests than other people and to accept that other people have different interests than them. 
Teach them to be gracious in victory and in defeat.

Teach them to be decent human beings.
If this can be achieved, maybe the suicide numbers will reduce some time in the future.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Out of tragedy

When my younger brother Brett chose to exit this world on 1 September 2013, it's fair to say that my world and the world of those around me ceased to exist in a form that we could understand.
Personally, it sent me into a tailspin that at times I wondered if I had the necessary skills to recover from.
It appeared to me that while the people around me seemed to be moving on seemingly unaffected, what I was missing was the fact that they were also grieving, just not the same way as I was. It took me a long time to understand that people grieve in different ways and there's nothing wrong with that.
The different ways in which people were dealing with the loss of a genuine good bugger to suicide caused a fair bit of conflict and created rifts between family and friends, some of which haven't been 100% repairable.

Suicide loss is unlike any other loss I've ever experienced.
It's different because for many, there simply are no answers to the multitude of questions. Why? What did we miss? What could we have done? What should we have done?
Sadly, these questions can be unanswered forever and it's important that for their own sanity, survivors of loss to suicide  are able to at some point reach a level of acceptance of that fact. It doesn't mean we should stop asking the questions, because if we can provide answers to questions of ourselves, it can only help us to grow and therefore assist us in providing a little bit more to someone else who may be considering suicide.

It took me around eight months after my brother killed himself to reach a point where I was able to focus on anything. I'd been sailing along on auto pilot, experiencing bouts of anxiety and panic attacks which I was fixing with alcohol. When we were offered the opportunity to relocate our business from Wellington to Christchurch, it wasn't a difficult decision for my wife Wendy and I. We were ready for something different. We decided to give it six months or so to see of it would work or not. The first few months were difficult, as during the week I was in Christchurch while Wendy was at home in Levin. I was flying home in the weekends. As difficult as it was, we soon realised that our future was in Christchurch, so we set about making plans to relocate permanently.
In April 2016 we sold our home in Levin and moved to Oxford, North Canterbury to a small rural property.

The eighteen months commuting between islands gave me a lot of time alone to get to know myself properly. I spent a lot of time looking at myself and I found that there was a lot of stuff behind my eyes and between my ears that I didn't like very much. What I saw was a guy who wanted to fit in. I saw a guy who wouldn't stand up for himself and would avoid confrontation. I saw a guy who would pretend to be interested in something because that's what is acceptable.
Effectively, what I saw was a sheep and I didn't like it.
I believed that there was something in me that could help other people and I made a conscious decision to develop myself personally.
I didn't need a life coach or a counselor, I made my own decision to be the person I wanted to be, not the person society said was 'acceptable'.

New Zealand is country of people who pride themselves on success. Whether it be in sport, business, innovation, ingenuity or almost anything else, we are a country of world leaders and world beaters.
But, we are also world leaders in something we really don't want to lead the world at.
Yes, New Zealand is among the world leaders in the number of people who end their own lives each year.
This clearly means that we are doing something very wrong and we need to change that.
It also means that there are thousands of people living in the aftermath of suicide and more people joining the ranks every day.

 If I'm completely honest, New Zealand is a nation of people who seem to see more value in things that don't really matter, rather than the well being of the people around them.

It's time to shake the foundations.
Come with me.......

The revised version of my book is in the editing process now and I hope to release it early September.
My new web site is under construction and I hope for it to go live mid August.
There is much work to be done.