Category: Musings


Suicide Is Painless … Except When It Isn’t

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I still remember the strangeness of listening to the theme from M*A*S*H (the movie) in the darkness of the huge cinema on Calgary’s 16th Avenue. It was the Summer of 1970 and I must have watched it with my ex-wife but I don’t remember her presence. I sat, as if alone, in the dark struck by the strangeness of the opening scenes. The choppers dropping their loads of battered, bloody bodies; all overlain with the hauntingly beautiful but strange contradiction of the theme song.

It was my first exposure to “gallows humour”, the absolutely dark, dismal, strange, black humour that has come to mark the conversations of surgeons in TV series like “ER”, “Grey’s Anatomy”, and “Saving Hope”. Gallows Humour is used to “distance” the medical professional from his/her patient, in an attempt to be objective. I suppose if they weren’t objective the might feel too much, and might go crazy, or worse yet … well … er … attempt to kill themselves.”

The theme song from M*A*S*H, Suicide Is Painless, is a fitting start to this post. I have recently thought a lot about “self murder” given the death of Robin Williams. I knew it would happen. I don’t mind the tributes for he was a comic genuis. Like Joan Rivers he was able to tranform his pain into humour — in itself a kind of visit to the dark side.

But, I resent the attempts of what I call Rag Mags, you know them, to captilize on Robin’s death by endlessly speculating about the “secrets of his last hours” or “he could have been saved.” BULL SHIT!

No one, sometimes even the person who attempts suicide, knows what goes through the mind of the attempter of self murder. No one!

The family, the doctors, the psychologists, the psychiatrists, the other sucidology experts can speculate as to the causes and what was going through the mind of the person attempting (and often suceeding) suicide. But it is just speculation and OFTEN a very painful, emotionally exhausting search for answers that just are not available and will never, ever be available.

Yet why the hell am I writing this post about a subject that many simply don’t want to talk about?

A good god damn question.

Because I seem to be compelled to talk about the S-word, Suicide. Because, you see, I have attempted to kill myself no less than SIX times.

Yes, folks, countem SIX.

Obviously I never succeeded. But, it wasn’t for lack of trying. I have been often asked, “Were you serious?”

To which question I often reply, “Yes. I was deadly serious.”

Even my first attempt, which is marked by the hesitation scars of an attempt to slash my left wrist, was deadly serious. And, subsequent attempts were increasingly deadly.

Who is to blame?

I don’t like to play the blame game. I try to think about who is responsible. I am going to say something that some might find provocative.

The person who is most responsible is the person who attempts and/or suceeds at sucide.

In my next post, I will tell you why I think that.




A Work In Progress

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What do you call a project that is 365 days late and $ 300,000 over budget? A typical systems project.

When I was a Systems Analyst — Yes Virginia, I got IT skills — at Imperial Oil Limited (Exxon North) we faithfully followed the Pied Piper of Project Management so we could avoid becoming victims of the Ninety-Ninety Rule.  

That’s where I find myself today. How do I mark THE END? Afterall, I optimistaclly/foolishly thought I’d be finished my recovery by August of 2011.

That’s why I have decided that my next birthday, which marks the 3rd anniversary of my car crash, will mark the official end of my recovery.

Yes, I KNOW … Dr. Shelagh Coutts, the trauma neurologist assigned to my case, said, “Lyle you will keep on recovering brain function.” And, Dr. Richard Buckley, MD, Head of Trauma Surgery, said, “Your ankle basically works. But, it can be improved. You can either get orthotics for your ankle or I can operate.” I chose the orthotics because I was afraid not of the surgery but of the bloody recovery process. So, I still limp but the ankle WORKS.

Yes, my PTSD is still affecting me but it’s much less severe thanks to EMDR treatments from Hypnotherapist, Lynn Lambert, MSW, RSW. And, for the foreseeable future I will be meeting with my therapy team — Dr. Lawrence Marcus, MD,  Psychiatrist and Laura Siewick, Registered Psychologist — of the NW Community Mental Health service. Finally, I’m likely to ‘graduate’ from the Calgary Pain Centre by next September.

So, how will I mark this significant occasion? Together with my family, likely the weekend of the Canadian Thanksgiving.

We intend to hike somewhere in Kananskis Country but I know not where. The flooding in June 2013 washed out a number of bridges. We may have to go elsewhere.  Fortunately, Southern Alberta is blessed with many hiking trails.

I’m thinking about what I want to do.

Any suggestions for me as to how I can memorialize my recovery? Best suggestion wins 1 hour of Spiritual Life Coaching.