The Dummies Guide to MindFrame.

by Lori Dwyer on August 16, 2011 · 58 comments

Heya,

Through the work I’ve been doing with RUOK Day, I was lucky enough to put in touch with a guy named Marc from the organistaion MindFrame to discuss the implications of talking about suicide and mental health in the media in general, and through my blog in particular.

For those who don’t know, especially those who aren’t Aussies, MindFrame is the peak body in Australia for regulating how, when and why suicides are reported in the press. I had a fairly long, graphic conversation with Marc- there were points there where he forgot he was talking to someone bereaved, adn talked to me like a professional. Which was refreshing to say the least.

I think Marc gave me pretty much a full media briefing, so I won’t go into all of it here.

Just, I guess, the important bits.

There is, really, not a lot of discussion in the Australian media about suicide, and I guess that’s for two reasons. Guidelines don’t exactly discourage it, but they don’t encourage it either. Someone taking their own life has to be incredibly newsworthy for it to be discussed, and with so many guidelines in place….

The lines get blurred and grey. And, I think, it’s just easier not to report it all.

Marc assures me that plenty of suicides are reported in the Austrlain media, and that number is rising. And, since the introduction of the MindFrame guideines in the mid-90′s, the suicide rate is continually dropping.

MindFrame guidelines are just that- guidelines- and they are all evidence based. So, every recommendation- and MindFrame only gives recommendations, it doesn’t so much instruct journalists what to do- is based on numerous studies that support it, rather the opinion of someone or a panel of people.

I think that’s an important distinction to make.

From my conversation with Marc, MindFrame’s guidelines for the reporting of suicide seemed focused on a few things- preventing the contagious effect of copycat suicides, especially when dealing with methods that are easily romanticised or not previously widely published; restricting the meotional impact of people close to the victim, especially in the 48 hours after the victim’s death; and addressing and breaking down stigma that may occur through incorrect use of language. (‘Committed suicide’ is a bad term, because it implies commiting a crime. But attempting suicide is a crim in New South Wales. The use of the word suicide itself is discouraged, with ‘taking one’s own life’ being preferable, for reasons discussed below- glamorisation, and the highlighting effect it can have- for someone with existing suicidal ideations, the word ‘suicide’ will leap off the page at them….)

So… let’s break it down a bit. Most of us have heard of the trend of copycat suicides. It’s, unfortuntely, a very real thing. It’s a danger mostly when the method of suicide is ‘new’- not something a lot of people would think to use; or when it’s in some way romantisiced- usually through the reporting of it in local media, or the way the story spreads through sommuntities and small towns. The scary thing here is the suicide rates in these cases actually increase- people kill themselves using the publicised method who wouldn’t have killed themselves otherwise.

The reporting of sucides also acts as alarm for people who may be suicidal… has anyone in Sydeny wondered why suicides at The Gap are no longer reported in our local media…? Because it might seem like a very good idea at the time, for someone. Someone who may not have had that direct impulse otherwise.

Access to method is such a huge risk factor.

However, in some cases it’s been found that the reporting of a suicide actually decreases, rather than increases the risk of suicide. the page I’ve linked to references the suicide of Kurt Cobain… I can’t help but wonder if maybe this was a flow on effect from the amount of time dedicated to the story, and the basic rhetoric that this was a talented man with a lot to life for… a wasted life who left a lot of pain behind for others.

Even with all that discussion, there is a ‘but’ here…as Marc was quick to point out, all of these studies, all this evidence, it comes from studies of traditional, commercial media.

Social media is a whole new thing, and a whole different ball game.

Traditional media generally looks for grabs and soundbites, a quick, watered down version of a story to fill a sixty second spot. There is no time to show the ramifications of the true after effects of a suicide.. no time to show the broken family left behind, the huge hole that cannot just be filled in with other things, no matter what you may think.

No studies have been done on the impact of discussing suicide in the social media- blogs, Twitter, YouTube- as yet.

***

So… at the end of all this- and while this is kind of The Dummies Guide To MindFrame, I do hope I got all the salient points across- I asked Marc… what was his recommendation for this place, for RRSAHM… for this ugly post in particular?

And… there are none. MindFrame simply puts the guidelines out there, and it’s the responsibility of the journalist, reporter or blogger to take from them what they will, decide what is newsworthy and in the public interest, and what is possibly detrimental.

The questions Marc asked me, to ask myself, were… Do I really need to use the word hanging, do I need to go into that much detail? And, what’s the effect of this writing on the family concernced?

I’ve thought long and hard about this… not just now, but every day since I published that bloody post.

The effect on the family concernced…? Well. Whatever damage that’s been done, has been done there, I think. And, hey, a large part of the family concernced is me. And this helps more than hurts.

So that leaves us with… is all that detail hurting, or helping?

It’s certainly not romanticised, in any way. There is nothing pretty about it, and it shows quite clearly the pain associated with a suicide… not just for us, but for Tony as well.

I can’t see anything in that post, or anywhere on this blog, that would trigger a suicide, or make it even vaguely appealing. But I have been accused of that, right from the start.

The feedback I get tells me that this blog has the oppisite effect… that people who are thinking of taking their own lives come here, read all this, and reconsider. But then I wonder, do I only receive the positive feedback? Is the negative hidden and unspoken about?

I still have not made up my mind. And I would really like the opinion of my fellow bloggers, readers, Tweeters and the RRSAHM public in general.

Please, feel free to leave a comment telling me what you think on the subject. I’m practising a definite level of emotional detachment, so don’t worry about hurting my feelings.

I’ll blog again soon with a solid desicion, if there is to be one at all.

Cheers.

For the sake of an open and honest discussion, anonymous comments are back on. Let’s keep it clean, folks, be nice, and not abuse the privilege.

Another recommendation from MindFrame is to always include help numbers at the end of aticles where suicide is discussed. That seems pretty damn logical to me. This info is available in easy-to-digest form on the RUOK Day website.

For immdiate help call LifeLine on 13 11 14 or the Suicide CallBack Service on 1300 659 467.

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{ 58 comments… read them below or add one }

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Anonymous November 28, 2012 at 11:11 pm

It always makes me giggle when people comment about someone's grammar, spelling or punctuation and have errors in their own comment. I am glad you're not teaching my children.

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CeltCraft October 1, 2011 at 2:47 pm

Your posts to me are gut wrenching. I suffer from depression, which, thankfully I take medication for. I have to come here and read your posts several at a time… I don't think I could take reading them every day. It's a lot to take in. I would hope, that if anyone thinking about taking their own life would read this, would totally understand the pain it leaves for their loved ones and then reconsider. I obviously don't know you, just what you want me to know from your blog, but the RAW PAIN that comes through is just brutal. Do I think you should stop? No. But it doesn't matter what I think anyway, you need to do what is best for you and your kids. You can't be responsible for decisions other people make.(And temporarily running away from your kids for a day or two here and there is NOT a bad thing. If you don't take care of yourself, you can't take care of your kids!)I understand so much of what you feel, (just because you MAKE me understand it through your writing) but want so much to tell you it will all be ok, thinking that I wish I were there to help you, and then wonder if I would be one who is too "busy". I am religious, I do believe in an after life, but I understand the anger at God and feeling abandoned. I have felt that anger and that sense of abandonment, but at the same time there is a voice that says "It's ok, be angry for now. He can take it." Things like losing a loved one period take so much time to work through, and having the trauma of witnessing the death on top of it? Yeah. It's going to be awhile. Just don't ever give up ok? All I can offer is a hug from across the ocean. My knowledge of Aussie geography is sorely lacking… if you ever find yourself near Brisbane, or Coorparoo, let me know. I do have a friend there (one who I first met on line, then in person… just saying!) who would give you a wonderful day of glass breaking therapy. :) Hugs. And yes, prayers, for you and the two wee ones.

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Anonymous August 28, 2011 at 8:56 am

If I ever thought about suicide, your posts would definatley make me reconsider, it makes tou think about the bigger picture, the other people who have to live with knowing there friend killed themself

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Anonymous August 23, 2011 at 11:25 pm

Okay – my point of view – you do the right things – you put warnings, you have consulted with mindframe. You have done all the right things. I remember the first comment I ever got about one of my blog posts possibly being triggering – it was a photo of my wrist, purely for the hospital wrist band as an 'oh what an exciting holiday I'm having – I'm sick in hospital' but it showed a scar. And I was told it would be triggering because of that. And that hurt. I Self harm. I have wanted to die. In my experience with other SH's images or talking about it has always been frowned upon by those in charge but useful to us, just to know someone GETS it, doesn't think you are mad. And now my arms are a mass of scars, so do I hide them? camoflage them on the off chance it triggers someone? or are they part of me I accept? I think if you are going to Self Harm you will Self Harm and if you are going to kill yourself you are going to – a website or novel or newspaper can only give you new ideas about how to – they cannot make you do it, no one can. No one can give you that desire simply be discribing something to you, much as a smoker cannot make you addicted to and long for a cigarette by describing what smoking is like. Hope that makes some garbled sense. Keep writing. You are doing the right thing.

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Anonymous August 23, 2011 at 12:23 pm

Hi Lori,

I stumbled across your blog and Ive been reading it for a few months now but been fairly shy to say anything as I used to go to high school with you. Your blog has shocked me, made me laugh and made me cry. Your strength amazes me. After reading this post I just wanted to let you know how your openness in your blog has affected me. From reading your blog you gave me strength and I've realised that it is ok to tell people you need help and that your not feeling the happiest. It is hard though. And doesnt always work. Its hard to get the courage to ask for help sometimes. But its worse when you ask and no one answers. It hurts less to think you are alone than to know you are alone. It will be a long time before I try and reach out for help again. I often wonder what is wrong with me that I have hardly anyone I can call a friend, no one that I can turn to for anything. It bothers me sometimes, but thats only when I let myself think. The rest of the time I fake smile. I can go for weeks at a time wearing my fake smile.

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Gemma @ My Big Nutshell August 21, 2011 at 8:43 am

you've given me a great deal of food for thought for when I draft my post for RUOK? Day. You have done a great service to me by sharing what you have. thank you.

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Anonymous August 21, 2011 at 4:00 am

I am one of the suicides you have prevented.

My problems are not healed, my struggles are not over, but the brutal, painful, honest way you wrote about your husband's suicide, and especially your discussion of violent methods… you helped me turn away from that path. I read your blog from Jan. 6 up through today, and I sobbed through most of it, but I came out at the end with an answer to the voice that tells me to send my car over the side of a bridge or into an overpass or wherever else. I think about your blog and I think about my loved ones writing a blog like this one, and that is a more painful thought than anything I am enduring. Whenever I think, maybe they'd be better off, I think about your 'ugly' post and I realize no, no they wouldn't. No matter how much is wrong with me, no matter how much I grapple with my problems and my demons, you've given me a graphic look at how much pain I would be inflicting by choosing that way out.

Thank you. Thank you.

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Miss Angela Solo August 21, 2011 at 12:28 pm

Well Lori. For some of those living 'the after', this blog is the one beacon of truth in a sea of bullshit.

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Kathy August 20, 2011 at 8:13 pm

I have never been suicidal, but I have lived with people who were (one of whom made several attempts at suicide).

I think your honesty is amazing and powerful and will help many people. In fact I know it will; I have sent links to a few friends already which have prompted discussions with spouses in dire emotional straits and opened the door to therapy and treatment, possibly, perhaps even probably, saving lives.

And yes, I also think some people will find it triggering and distressing. That's really unfortunate, but I don't think that it's an argument to not write as you write, especially given your thoughtful and responsible use of trigger warnings and help links.

Further than that, if this blog helps you, if it's what you need to write and the story you need to tell … then, not that my opinion is relevant, but I'd say, you should do it, as long and as loud and as raw as you need to. YOU matter and YOUR pain matters; YOU, not just the people who may or may not find reading your blog distressing or triggering.

That's what I think, anyway.

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Kakka August 20, 2011 at 7:13 pm

birth and death are the 2 things that happen to all of us. Some of us live to a ripe old age with good health, mental and physical and others struggle all the way through.

When a person commits suicide they may think they are leaving those behind them in a better place, that life without them will be easier for the people left behind without the burden of them.

As Melissa says above, you being open and honest and raw about your feelings and those of your 2 little people, it makes it real and for some people that may be enough to make them stop and think.

But above all, I think your courage to talk about men's mental health issues is a bigger godsend for men tend to keep it to themselves.

My own hubby had suicidal thoughts and if he had not broken down one day and told me, I could be in your shoes. It took courage for him to do that, it would have been easier for him to take his own life. It was hard to admit that he was feeling that way when men as fathers and husbands are supposed to be the strong ones.

What you write must be your choice and I don't believe that anyone should tell you otherwise.

Some will be attracted because they feed on other's pain, some will be attracted as they feel your pain and some will be attracted because they genuinely care for you and your little people.

Hugs from Perth xxx

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Melissa August 20, 2011 at 5:17 pm

I'm deliberately not reading comments, I don't want to be influenced or to sanitise my words.

I have Bipolar2. One of the diseases with the highest suicide rates of all mental illnesses. I also live with chronic, delilitating physical pain. Another tick for wanting it all to end.

And I have little to no hope of these things improving. So there are plenty of times when I think to myself…it would be so easy. It would be so easy to just finish it. Not because I want to leave my family,but to make it all stop. And there are times when I *honestly* think 'wouldn't they be better off without all of this drama? A sick mother/wife who can't drive, go out, get out of bed some days?'.

And for about 8 months now, there has been one word that has come, unbidden into my mind each time. *Tony*. Literally, his name comes into my head. And I think of you, and that 'ugly' post. And I think of some of your subsequent posts.
And now I wear your purple 'speak' band. And it is not just to encourage people to speak. It is a direct, blunt reminder to me of WHY I cannot do it. Why I don't believe now that I"ll ever be able to do it.

Without Tony's death, and your frank discussions about it and the freefall you've been in since, and Chop's pain..it would never have been so real to me. I can't ignore those things. I can't *not* imagine my family's pain.

I think YOU will have saved my life, by talking about Tony and what happened. And I'm pretty sure that I'm not the only one.

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Anonymous August 19, 2011 at 1:22 am

I agree with most everyone has posted. A report in a newspaper one day is never going to convey that emotional impact your blog does. A journalist, regardless of their talents, is never going to be able to tell your story (nor anyone elses) with the rawness and honesty that you have. There is nothing romantic about what you have written.

Outside of that – you are a victim here. You had this tragically horrific thing happen to you and I don't feel that you should be forced to feel shame and, more than that, to carry that shame with a stiff upper lip.

It's ok for you to be able to have a space to be able to get that pain out outside of the grief counsellors office. And… I think it's ok for you to tell other people who are similarly hurting that they don't need to suffer in silence and alone. That whilst you're still in pain, that pain changes and morphs and that those first few weeks wont become the new normal.

Even that it's ok to seek help from counsellors. That it's ok to take a step back from parenthood and responsibilities. That they'll still be there when you start to find your feet.

You're inspiring Lori.

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Rin August 18, 2011 at 2:48 pm

I think it is amazing that you are so honest here. In my head I know that suicide happens but because it is such a taboo subject I have never understood it. That was until you opened up your world and gave us an insight to the pure hell that the loved ones who are left behind have to deal with. It has truely changed my view on suicide and has taught me so much that I would never have known if it wasn't for you being so truthful to educate people on the horror that is suicide. xxx

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MaidInAustralia August 18, 2011 at 2:47 pm

I'm no expert, but from my perspective you only serve to send a message to those who are contemplating suicide that it's a living hell for the loved ones that are left behind. And hopefully that makes them stop and think. I know your words have been immensely helpful to many people, including myself. I guess blogging and social media are so new, it's time to consider guidelines from experts.

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Martha August 18, 2011 at 1:51 pm

I read your post a few days ago, and since then I've been trying to imagine how I would have reacted if I'd read your blog and THAT post at the time that I was closest to suicide.

The brutal honesty of what you went through would have been shocking. And yet, I don't think it would have been enough to change my mind, because it wouldn't have changed my belief that my family would be better off without me. In my warped mental state I honestly believed that. I knew they would be devastated initially and grieve for me, but I believed that in years down the line they would truly be better off. Your post could not have changed that longer term plan in my mind. Nor would it have convinced me to go ahead.

Ironically, what changed my mind was having a close friend actually sit down and ask if I was ok, and not let me get away with a standard answer. He stuck with me and listened when I finally broke down.

I think there is no single solution to preventing suicide. It has to be multi pronged, because there are so many different reasons and delusions we suffer from when we are in that state. So your blog and posts, the lifelines, RUOK day, and yes, more in the media about suicides and failed suicides. It's all good and necessary.

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L August 18, 2011 at 12:44 pm

Please dont stop talking. I think there's such a huge stigma surrounding suicide that instead of people opening up silence has become the norm.
I've been on both sides of the coin, I've struggled with depression all my life and also attempted suicide in my teens. As an adult I am now raising a child (my cousin) who lost a parent to suicide.
The main reason I love your blog is your absolute honesty. The good, the bad, the ugly – it's all there. Suicide is not pretty and by talking about it — I think you've flipped the switch in a beautiful and brutal way. No one ever hears about the suffering in the after, the lonliness, the heartache, the new day to day existance. I am in awe of your your courage for putting yourself out there and your frank way of not sugar coating the truth.
xo

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Sarah August 18, 2011 at 9:50 am

Hi Lori,
I haven't read the other comments so apologise if I'm repeating things.

I have found your writing heartbreaking and honest – I feel like we are watching you recover through your posts. I've always wondered about the reporting on suicides, knowing it was a big taboo topic. But if the pain and suffering of the people left behind isn't shown either, then the people considering suicide won't understand the full impact on those that they love.

What I'm trying to say is that I think discussing the real impacts of suicide is a good thing.
Sarah

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Keely aka The Richest Girl in Bondi August 18, 2011 at 2:36 pm

I think you are being hugely responsible by talking to MindFrame and taking total ownership of your blog. As you said – there was no 'glamorisation' or risk of inspiring copycats which is the main worries with suicide discussions. As a reader I love nothing more than people who are open and honest – even if the result is sometimes confronting.

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Anonymous August 18, 2011 at 4:10 am

A few weeks ago, as I was relaxing in the tub, I was thinking how much my life has changed since my divorce. I think of it as a death. I thought how I seem to cry every day and one day, I will stop crying, and that will be an outward sign of being "ok".

My thoughts turned to you and your loss and what you had been saying "yellow rope, blue shirt" (I apologize if I mixed up the colors) and how you were holding your daughter. It hit me how very brutal the suicide was. It wasn't coming home to the shock of finding your loved one dead. No, it was him saying what he was going to do and you watching it unfold. I cannot CANNOT imagine the horror of that. You did not just go through the loss of a husband to suicide, you were part of it. I hate that your husband was so ill that he did that. And, getting back to today's post, I think you have CLEARLY illustrated for all of us how awful the consequences are of such acts and how they affect those left behind. I think that would only help people to NOT do the same to their families.

I support you and what you are trying to do here… thank you.

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Anonymous August 18, 2011 at 12:41 am

I'm wondering what you think about your children reading your post. I'm not saying they shouldn't but are you OK with that? If so and writing helps you then keep writing.

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Anonymous August 17, 2011 at 10:27 pm

Hey Lori, i too am a 'survivor of suicide' and i think you are just saying what we are all thinking but that never gets discussed. I am 4yrs out, time is the only thing that helps, the scars are still there they just become easier to live with.

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Maxabella August 17, 2011 at 10:24 pm

You can't really know what a person will take from anything, Lori. I don't think it's your responsibility to have the answer to that, either. I think it's just good to talk about things. That's all I know. x

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Anonymous August 17, 2011 at 10:22 pm

Lori, love your blog, I have always thought I don't have to read it, I chose to come here every week and read, no one is making me! If people dont like what you write don't read it!!
keep up the great writing x

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Zoe Paige August 17, 2011 at 9:37 pm

Lori, i think your blog is amazing. And i your posts about the 'after' are so honest, and raw, it makes me feel like i know you. In high school, my best friends brother hanged himself, and his wife found him. And another male from work also hanged himself. We will always ask the 'why' and never know the answer. I would hope that anyone who may stumble across your blog would find comfort in the fact that you are still you, even in the 'after' even though it may be a 'different' you. I would also hope that anyone else struggling with the same loss and grief as you would feel less alone in their sadness and grief. Keep doing what you're doing, because if you can even help ONE person who has depression, or suicidal thoughs, or someone who has lost a loved one to suicide, or been touched in any way by it, then you've done an amazing thing. Keep on trucking Lori, you're fucking brilliant xx

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Melissa August 17, 2011 at 9:10 pm

As someone living in the US – our media is free to share any and all details associated with suicide, or any death for that matter.
Two years ago a friend of mine was brutally murdered, and there were times when I had to deliberately avoid the media coverage.
I think people for whom your writing is traumatic – can choose to travel elsewhere on the internet.
You have to write what's right for you – and the rest of us are responsible for ourselves.
I think your writing is courageous, powerful and honest. I think it will help people WAY more than it would hurt anyone.

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Miss Pink August 17, 2011 at 8:33 pm

I can find your posts triggering. But not in the sense of suicide. I think that you have actually given people a side to suicide that many contemplating do not think about.
I also think that you educate people. I had no idea that if your feet touched the ground hanging yourself could still kill you. Some people really do want a way of reaching out that extreme but still able to be revived, to be saved and helped and finally noticed. So it may, hopefully, get them to take "attempting" just as seriously. That it is still wanting the same outcome. And that you will be hurting people in the end.

For me the triggering part is your pain. Everyone's triggers are different though. I know many of mine aren't obvious triggers. Does that mean I want you to pretend everything is a-okay? No.
I hurt for you, in some ways with you, but I would hurt more knowing you are holding it all in.

The thing is, you usually post warnings at the start of posts that are obviously "hardcore", and that I feel is people's warnings, it's their chance to come back to it another time, in a beeter head space, or not at all, or, proceed at your own risk.
AS long as you keep doing that, then I think that is enough.
I think blogs like this, who post about an aftermath in ways that many in a suicidal mind frame would simply not have considered, or push away so they don't think about it, it's GOOD. Life saving even.
As long as you post WITH your emotion (even if you don't think people will agree, show it ALL) and that writing continues to help you, then please do not stop.
Like Sarah said, it does help even those who have not felt suicidal in teaching people how to approach someone who has gone through it, what to say, what they need from a friend or relative.
I also think that not talking about it glamourises it somewhat. Growing up suicide just didn't happen, and so it made it a bit more glamourous to "go out" in a way that wasn't perfectly ordinary. If that makes sense?

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Renee M August 17, 2011 at 8:01 pm

Hey Lori,

Sometimes we skate on thin ice however I believe that if we are doing it in our own voices then that is what matters. You can't please everyone and nor do you want too. No one can andever will completely understand what you went through so therefore can not judge.

We have to remember that everything we are doing is coming from a good place.
I blog about depression and life all the time on Busting Out and someone once said that reading that post would encourage them to commit suicide. At the time it broke my heart because this is exactly what I try and prevent by talking about it and reducing the stigma. I soon realised that yes we have to be careful and cover our arses but we also need to challenge thoughts.

STAY AWESOME

Rx

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Deb August 17, 2011 at 7:00 pm

I love your blog Lori… I have been reading it for ages and yearn to hear/read how you are doing…
I appreciate your honesty, your candour and your writing is obviously coming straight from your heart, as you are feeling it but please please please edit your work.

sorry, its the teacher in me. such a minor and inconsequential thing. I'll stop!

I find it odd that that suicides aren't reported in the media. It just makes it all the more a taboo that no one talks about, but then again, those who are borderline suicidal and hear it on the news may see it as an easy out. What I love about your blog is that emotional, raw and very real other side, and anyone who reads your blog who is feeling that vulnerable would surely see that other side and think twice.

keep doing what your doing.

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Anonymous August 17, 2011 at 6:58 pm

I'll be honest. As someone who is battling with long-term depression (for the past 20 years) I did find the post incredibly triggering. I think that you can't understand how triggering it could be unless you're in that darkest of dark places yourself. It's easy to say that it wouldn't be triggering but the fact is, that for me anyway, I found it very, very triggering.

Now I'm not saying that you shouldn't have posted it – it's your blog and you can post whatever you want to, you do not have to be responsible for the thoughts and actions of others. Your blog should be your 'safe place' where you can write everything that you're feeling without hesitation.

Just thought I'd let you know my point of view as someone who is currently struggling with depression and the related suicidal issues. I have also lost a brother and my step father to suicide so I do understand it from both perspectives.

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Paula August 17, 2011 at 6:36 pm

The choice to write and publish this is absolutely down to you, judging by those that know you and have read your blogs before, you will write it well and people will be able to learn from it and perhaps share some of their own experiences.

The important thing is, no one has to read it if they think it will be too painful do they? Just like the tv and radio, there's an off button, just like a magazine or a book, you can close the page.

In my limited understanding of suicide, the person desperate enough to want to end their lives, need to know of the impact it will have on their families and friends. So, far from encouraging, it may actually dissuade people, and point them in another direction?

I don't know, but I'd be honoured to read it.

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Rydell August 17, 2011 at 3:25 pm

I don't think you should feel, or necessarily worry, about whether your blog will or won't make someone suicide. The internet is a big place, how can you know for sure that it was your blog that made someone do something? It may have been a combination of things, a combination of websites. So long as you continue to be true to yourself, that's all that should matter. People will understand that what you post is your view and your feelings and is in no way connected to what someone else is thinking and feeling.

In regards to the use of certain terms in the media and the reporting of suicide, as a person in the media I can tell you that my company follows the rule that we don't report suicides. We can report on suicide prevention groups and if a family approaches us, we can do it. But if we hear that something has happened, we can't do anything about it.

In regards to the terminology used, the reason we tend to use words like 'committed suicide' and the like is simply because it's the quickest and easiest way to get across what happened. Unfortunately in our stories we're usually limited to a certain amount of space for our stories, and we're often not afforded the luxury of saying 'took their own life'. It's just not possible. Also, we are supposed to consider ourselves as an impartial observer, hence why we use the time died as opposed to passed away, even in feature stories about lovely old people who have heart attacks. It's the restriction of the medium and is unfortunate.

But luckily you don't have these restrictions. It's your blog and it's the internet. As far as I'm concerned you can say what you want on the topic. If someone chooses to do something silly because of it, then honestly, that's their problem not yours.

Hope this in some way helped.

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Rachel August 17, 2011 at 12:43 pm

Anonymous' post above about the devil of suicide being the fear of acknowledging the intense pain of those left behind reminds me of an old saying that describes what you do well: Tell the truth and shame the devil.
That's what you do, so keep on doing it.
xxxxx thepixiechick

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Rachel August 17, 2011 at 12:38 pm

I think you are the most unbelievably fucking courageous person I have ever met. That's the first thing. The second thing is that you wrote that post, not to raise awareness, or to hurt people, or educate people (although these may have been side effects) but because that was what was inside you at the time and it needed to come out. For your own sanity, your own healing. Even if you had wanted to censor it or sanitize it, how could you have? It was real, it was fucked, it was what was really happening and it was I. Your head and it needed to come out. Those who can't handle your honesty can look the other way. You just keep on writing.

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Lisa August 17, 2011 at 11:57 am

I came across your blog sometime last year and have been a daily reader since January. Last month, my cousin hanged himself out of his bedroom window after trying to kill himself with a toaster in the bath tub. He lived on a fairly busy street, and someone called the police, who responded and cut him down. He had been hanging for so long that the paramedics did not even try to resuscitate him. However, in Massachusetts, the law requires that any person found dead of suicide be transported to a hospital so that he can be declared legally dead. Upon arriving to the hospital, the Emergency Room staff resuscitated him. He had minimal brain activity due to strangulation for over 30 minutes, and it resulted in quite a medical quandry as one must be fully braindead in order to donate organs and such. The result was fourteen agonizing days of watching my cousin lay in an ICU bed, intubated, with the occasional brain activity spike that I knew meant nothing (I am a medical scientist). After two weeks, his mother made the courageous decision to remove life support and allow him to die on his own, which happened quickly.

But the fact of the matter is this – she could have chosen not to remove life support, and placed him in a long term care facility, where he would have physically wasted away and eventually died. However, I doubt that would have happened quickly. He was 29 and in excellent physical health.

In the US, suicides are published, but only for incidents involving famous people, or if they involve in very public places (the Golden Gate Bridge, for instance). What I think is not discussed enough is how frequently suicide is not really "successful" – that the person does not actually die, and instead becomes severely brain damaged and unable to care for him/herself. I think people have an idea of suicide as being a moment, one last moment before blackness, but that's not really true. Aside from the incredibly damaging aftermath for "survivors" (I also understand your disdain of that term as I am now a "survivor" myself), many families simply CAN'T let go of people who didn't actually physiologically die, leading to years of longterm care with almost no hope of recovery.

I experienced this for only 14 days, and a scientist understood on a medical level that he would never recover. However, the fact that he looked totally normal, save for the mark on his neck, was so devastating – every time I stood next to him, I thought, maybe he'll wake up now. He only looks like he's sleeping, maybe he'll wake now. Of course, he didn't.

Those 14 days have scarred me, in the most literal sense. To think it could have gone on forever is unbearable. I would be devastated regardless, if he had simply been found dead, and not resuscitated, but it felt like such a betrayal to try to grieve because while he was in the hospital, it seemed possible that we might be able to go visit him for months to come, hold his warm hands and tell him funny stories. Reality was suspended, and there were no five stages of grief, because grieving seemed like a cop-out.

I think stories like my cousin's need to be told more in the media, as hard as it is for the families. I grew up in the inner city (East Boston) and know over thirty people who died from overdoses, or suicides after long struggles with addictions. I am starting a non-profit to subsidize rehab and suicide prevention efforts in our city in my cousin's name. I so wish that I didn't have to.

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Naomi August 17, 2011 at 11:08 am

I think that honesty as it is here, raw, is good. So often suicide is romanticised, glossed over. As you say, sound bites in traditional media.
But it's hard. Before I published my post on the subject I emailed some people and told them perhaps best of they didn't read, knowing their triggers.
But for me, speaking is the most important thing. I think knowing that people are out there who want to talk, want to listen, want to help can only be a good thing surely.

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Tony August 17, 2011 at 10:44 am

Hey Lori, WOW, I think your comments here give you your answer,I think one majorly important thing to come from your story, and it will save multiple lives, is the fact that you CAN NOT Pretend or "Cry for Help" by Hanging. People would not know about that instantaneous effect that Tony suffered. They would think that if someone was there or if their feet were touching the ground they will not die.
I have given your blog to my psychologist in the hope that she can use it as a resource for males who are contemplating suicide and have a family.
My only fear is for you, and that by keeping this alive in your blog, it is going to stop you from ever moving on and putting it behind you (I know you can't ever really put it behind you, but you get my drift).
I admire your professionalism in your approach to this, and not just thinking "stuff you all, I am the one suffering here"

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Anonymous August 17, 2011 at 9:07 am

Hey Lori-

Don't stop. The difference between you and the types of things MindFrame is studying is that they report on the one day. The day of, or a couple of days after, and then move on. You tell us the whole story. You tell us about life in The After, something you never see on the news. And this is your space, your place to write what you'd like, using whatever words feel right in your mind. Ignore the people discouraging you, because they have the choice to leave and never come back. And the haters out there should do just that.

I do, however, feel that the links to the help lines at the bottom of some of your posts are a wonderful idea. You never know who will come across your story, and if that helps just one person, then that's worth all of the effort, I think.

Keep going.

Melissa

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Anonymous August 17, 2011 at 7:06 am

The thirty year old daughter of a close friend of mine hanged herself. Since then, my friend has referred to the suicide as "the elephant in the room". Everyone knows it's there, but no one wants to talk about it. Even here in the U.S., where it seems that the media have no reservations about "reporting" suicides, there is still an enormous stigma attached to killing oneself. My friend's son didn't tell anyone *how* his sister had died until a couple of years later, because of the shame he felt. Only after he joined a suicide awareness and prevention group was he able to talk about – and process – what had happened.

It's sometimes said that the devil is in the details. In the case of suicide, it seems that the devil is the fear of acknowledging the intense pain involved, before and after. I admire you for meeting the devil head-on. You share the details and talk about that elephant from your uniquely personal perspective. Through your courage and honesty, you provide immeasurable insight and help lessen the stigma.

Take care and keep on keeping on, Lori. You're amazing and your children are incredibly lucky to have you.

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Deb August 17, 2011 at 6:03 am

My 40+ year old brother tried to commit suicide three weeks ago in Melbourne. I think the point that you made at the time, which I still remember, and which I think people MUST HEAR, is that guys don't semi do it, guys make a good job of their attempts. To be honest Lori, at the time I didn't think we needed to read all the actual graphic details, but I don't know how you could have made the point so well. When a man commits suicide, he usually succeeds. Thanks for making us all so well aware of this. Keep on doing it any way you can.

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Shellye August 17, 2011 at 5:35 am

I also forgot to mention that I have taken a dekko at your post, UGLY, and I sobbed all the way through it. It must have been agony, reliving that. And I just didn't know what to say, what to comment, but I will say that I think the reality, the rawness of it all would definitely help someone to think about it before they made an attempt.

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Shellye August 17, 2011 at 5:33 am

It's amazing that you mention Kurt Cobain. I was a teenager and very into the the band Nirvana. I love their music, but I wasn't into "Celebrity Worship" because I know celebs are everyday people with the same problems everyone else may have. The only difference is that their lives are publicized.

I remember his last album before he took his life…it was laced with messages of the pain he was in, and one song even had the lyrics, "Look on the bright side suicide." I remember hearing that song and hating it. I hated the album.

On April 7th of 1994, two days after my 17th birthday, I woke up on my boyfriend's couch before the sun even came out, and it was all over MTV, they found Kurt Cobain's body. I sat up, suddenly awake. I watched the horrifying news coverage, just in total shock. What upset me the most is that he killed himself on April 5th, my 17th birthday. Autopsy report showed that he had been dead for two days. I didn't even know him personally and I experienced a mixture of emotions. The front man for my favorite band had just killed himself on my birthday. I was sad and angry and horrified and shocked, but not surprised, and I hated him for it. I went home and put my Nirvana tapes/cds into a box and stuck them in the basement. I never wanted to listen to them again, and I didn't until September of 1995.

I met this girl on a bus trip to Pennsylvania. She and I talked and we exchanged our cd/tape players, and I asked her what I was listening to. She said it was Nirvana back before they became famous. She knew them and had music from when they literally performed in a garage in Seattle. The music was more cheerful and funny. And when we traded cd/tape players because it was time for her to get off at her stop, I felt comforted, but to this day, I could care less if I listen to Nirvana again.

Some people became bigger fans of Nirvana. Some felt like I did and packed their tapes/cds up. Some fans even destroyed anything that had with Nirvana on it.

In the states, very few people romanticized about Kurt Cobain's suicide. I think they were as angry and as disappointed as I was. Even when reports that Courtney Love, his own wife, had killed him, very few of us cared at that point. Cobain's untimely death did more than just hurt his family and friends, it killed his fan base.

I hope this helps someone who's had to watch their favorite actor/actress, singer, or writer, succumb to the tragedy of suicide.

As always, I'm praying for your loss, and I'm sorry, Lori. What you went through is nothing I would wish on even my worst enemy, and I meant it when I said you had my support for whatever you do in Australia, and if I can do anything to help you in or from the states, please just say the word.

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Anonymous August 17, 2011 at 5:17 am

The detail in your posts, all of them but especially The One, is what got my attention, it brought home the emotion – it wasn't easy to hear and I didn't gloss over it. It was really real, in a way I'd never heard before or even thought of, to be honest.
Why wasn't it easy to hear? I've thought about doing it before, in more than a passing way, but I never had it brought home to me how sudden and violent it could be, and hearing you describe it, honestly it made me realize what a terrible effect it would have on my family if I were to keep that as an option.
Maybe more day to day important, I have thought of your words about that day more than once, as a reminder to keep my loved ones close and a reminder to myself that I don't really know what another person is thinking or feeling or what's going on in their deepest heart and mind, and it has made me a kinder and more loving person. More understanding maybe. More appreciative. Not every single time, but more times than I care to admit.
I've never done any research so I can only say what I believe, which is that you've given some valuable perspective and food for thought. I think the detail discourages someone from taking their own life, but I also tend to believe that we can never say what combination of circumstances causes it.
It goes without saying, I hope, that I am not implying that you were somehow not kind or loving or that you could have changed this, because I don't think that. I do think that I know that *I* have taken your experience and used it in a way that was meaningful for me. I don't like thinking how life can change in an instant, how it's possible to lose something and someone that mean so much on a day that just seemed like a normal day.

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Jenna August 17, 2011 at 4:57 am

I have been lurking for a while now, drawn to your site, your story, and your pain because of your honesty, though I have never commented before today. I am a counselor in the US, and I truly believe your story is one to be shared, graphic details and all, if that is what you feel is best for yourself and your family. (Obviously this is a different choice for different people.) To gloss over those details – the word hanging for instance – is to give those words and those ideas more power. It is playing into the stigma and the secrecy, and ultimately into the "glorification" of suicide. Sometimes, I believe, the only way to combat that glorification is with the ugly and painful and heart wrenching truth, which is what you do, everyday.

If someone wants to commit suicide, there are plenty of other places on the internet that will help them…but I think your truth offers up the reality of The After. A reality that stands in stark contrast to that glorification, and I hope that your readers continue to find comfort and support in your words, as you do in ours.

This is, all, of course, not to say that these issues can or should be handled roughly, which I don't think that you do. They are tough topics, and many people have personal and emotional connections to your writing and your story. But I think the mere act of questioning the purpose and intent of your writing, along with the impact it has had, shows how sensitive you are to these issues.

I hope that you continue to find comfort and solace and peace in writing your story and sharing it, and until that changes, I hope you continue to share your strength with us. Help us address these issues before it's too late, talk about things that are hard to talk about, and love each other more openly because you remind us of all the things we have to be grateful of…though I'm incredibly heartbroken for you and sorry about your loss.

Much love from the states.

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Sharon August 17, 2011 at 1:08 am

First of all, thank you for this post. It has opened my eyes to the fact that as bloggers, we are in essence reporters. As such there are areas such as this where we must consider how much information we publish. It never occurred to me to hold myself to those same standards that journalists apply to their work.

I am very pleased to read that several people have re-thought taking their lives because of what you have written about Tony. This is wonderful to hear, but last year when I was so close to taking my own life, nothing that anyone would have written about the topic, nor anything anyone could have said to me, would have changed my mind. And I've lost two brothers to suicide so I KNOW how it feels to go through that pain as a family member. It was only medication and therapy that changed my mind. I believe that if someone is really serious about ending their life, then report/dont report, details/no details, it wont make any difference. Maybe it will postpone the inevitable, but it wont stop it.

I think, bottom line, that such a big deal is made of reporting suicide and blaming reportage because we want there to be a reason. We want there to be someone to blame. We as "survivors", as the bereaved, don't want to accept the fact that it was the choice of our loved one to do this, that they chose to do something that causes us so much pain. It is easier to point the finger at the media and say "that is why" than it is to accept that we will never know why.

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Anonymous August 17, 2011 at 12:29 am

Keep your blog real and honest, just like you have. Suicide is most times so sudden and really without warning. So it leaves all affected after the fact wondering, WHY? How could this be?? But you put it into words, you told exactly what happened before and after. And that takes guts to be so honest about such a personal and private thing. You have come so far and gained so much from your honesty, keep it up! Lisa

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Girl From the Ville August 17, 2011 at 12:12 am

I saw the Insight program about this a few months ago and it made me think also …

Do you know what? I think honesty really is the answer. I think that by pretending things are different to how they are or sugar coating it or shying away from particular words – I think that it more dangerous. I think that suicide is romanticised because no-one seems to be able to talk about it in real terms. We have to shy away from trigger words out of fear that someone might copy.

I really do think that truth and honesty are what is going to make the difference. We shy away from it too much … we romantisize it by making it mysterious and taboo.

I think a hard truth in this situation is that suicide is never going to be wiped out completely. As much as that sucks, but I do think that is the harsh reality. But I think for the harsh reality of it all, honesty and openness around this issue is going to help more people than it hurts.

I think by allowing people who have been affected by suicide to talk about it in such raw and honest terms is incredibly insightful.

I think part of this discussion also has to be about the people who are affected by suicide – what is best for you? For your children? If you need to talk about it openly and honestly, then you should. This part I can't really answer, but I don't think it is fair on families who have to rebuild lives to be able to say nothing and to have to talk about it in such restrictive terms.

I don't know but I am struggling with an anxiety disorder and I am finding my way out through honesty about what is going on. Hiding things and not talking just makes it worse. I think if it was discussed more often, people would understand better and not just some vague understanding tainted by stereotypes and misinformation.

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Sarah M. August 17, 2011 at 12:09 am

As a blogger I would write about all the details. It took me a long time to get up the guts to read that first post becasue I knew it would hard to get the mental images out of my head but I did and I think it was important for me to do so. I've actually had many conversations about suicide and how a lot of the time it's not something you can undo and it's not pretty and fast and easy since you made that post.

As someone that has been suicidal before I think it is important for people to keep posting what really happens. There were times that I would research the fastest and more sure way to kill yourself and I would run across posts like this and they would set me back a few steps.

Lori, I think that you are doing a great job. Sometimes it's hard to read your posts and they make my heart hurt, but you keep writing and I keep reading and watching you get stronger everyday.

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Anonymous August 16, 2011 at 10:18 pm

Honestly, I wouldn't change a thing about this blog. I feel what you're doing is helping and even though details can be hard to digest, I think it's for the greater good.

Thank you for sharing all that you have and I hope Marc drops by to read this post and everyone's comments.

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Anonymous August 16, 2011 at 10:13 pm

Gee, you've made me think now Lori.

For me, a chronic lurker, and seldom emailer, I have been drawn to your writings and I think the very raw and candid approach of ugly was part of it all. What it did for me, someone with no first hand experience of suicide, nor any real mental health issues of note, was to give me an incredible gratitude…a sensitivity, an empathy, in the way I react and relate to people with issues such as you have faced. I see your approach as having helped the wider blogosphere, not harmed in any way.

But more importantly, to me, is the impact its all had on you. When I saw you, crying in anxiety, on your vlog, in your friend's bathroom, that was one of the most painful things I could watch, seeing what someone bereaved, sensitive and panicking was going through. I wondered then, if all this was helping or hurting you. I'm happy to take your reassurance, that this blog has been a catharsis to you, and has helped, more than hurt you.

It's been said so often before, but the very human ways in which you've reacted, and then shared your reactions here, has evoked huge feelings of support and love from me, from all here, to you.

I often wish I really knew you, and spoke to you, and could share these thoughts with you. I almost 'talk' to you, so often, in my mind, after having read your writings.

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Kelloggsville August 16, 2011 at 10:08 pm

I know you can't support the entire world but I think it might be a good idea to add a link for the UK and US foreign visitors too (in the UK I would start with the Samaritans)

I have had my life fringe touched by suicide 4 times. A friend who cut her wrists twice (and is still with us) I'm sure was crying for help. I think there is a gap in the support matrix that doesn't allow people to show the depth of desperate feeling without it being so very dangerously close to death.

I wish mental health services were more freely available, more open for discussion. Why should I be ashamed to say I went for counselling. It is all so stigmatised.

I think your blog my help some people, I think it may upset some people. I don't think it romanticises it. It just tells the truth. The truth is important.

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Pandora August 16, 2011 at 9:44 pm

As a chronically suicidal person, I think your detailed and emotive posts on Tony's death were a really "positive" (I really hate to use that word, as nothing about this is "positive", but I hope you know what I mean) thing for you to have used this blog for. I mean, obviously what happened was horrific, that goes without saying. But I really think your honesty about the trauma you went through – are going through – will make most people stop and think.

Will it stop every suicide? No. But it floored me. I was always aware that if I killed myself, it would have a devastating effect on my friends and family, but there was something about how you detailed everything here – your raw honesty, how palpable the hurt was, the tangibility of it all – that made it seem more 'real' to me. I'm not going to guarantee that if I fall into the abyss again, severe suicidal ideation won't crawl back into my consciousness…but your writing certainly made me reconsider before, and may well do again.

I cannot believe that I'm alone in this. There will be others who rethink their plans as a result of your honesty.

Plus I think you highlighted a number of important red flags. A dramatic change in the personality and self-perception of a partner, I mean. Even if a suicidal person doesn't happen upon this site themselves, if their husband/wife/partner/brother/sister/parent/etc did, they might have advanced warning of the possible signs that could lead to suicide.

None of that makes Tony's death worthwhile. Nothing does, nothing ever will. But if your writing about what happened can make even a few people reconsider, then at least something "positive" (still hate that word, sorry), however minute in the grand scheme of things, can be gleaned from it.

As for the terminology used – eg. the word 'hanging' – well, I can only speak personally, but I think the starkness, the horror, of that drives the point home properly. And it shows that, despite some perceptions, you don't always have 'time' to be rescued from such an act. I genuinely don't think everyone realises that, just as you suspected that Tony didn't.

Besides all of which, Lori, this is your blog. You wrote about Tony's suicide because this was a key emotional outlet for you, because such a sense of community has been fostered here. To that end, in my view, you have a right to write what you like, regardless of whether any "good" comes of it or not. I remember you saying that the support you'd found here saw you through some of the dark hours whilst Tony was on the life support machine, and after he died. That alone makes everything you wrote worthwhile.

I hope this hasn't been too waffly or silly or whatever. Sorry if so.

Sending gentle e-hugs, if that's OK.

Take care

Pan xxx

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Sarah August 16, 2011 at 9:25 pm

As I have said from the very beginning, I think you need to write whatever is going to help you & your family get through this. If it is every minute detail then go for it. It if it is a vague account of "he was sick & took his own life" and that is it, that's ok too.

I know there are other family members out there that definitely do not agree with me, but the thing is that they don't have to read this blog. They don't have to come to this space. If they are drawn here for whatever reason, can't resist or whatever they can get the website restricted with their ISP & stop reading.

It's like stillbirth & the loss of very young babies. It's so taboo that noone knows how to deal with it, it's swept under the rug & the people destroyed by the event who are trying to repair themselves have noone to back them up when they need it the most. The more we speak about these things (suicide, baby loss, miscarriage) the more accepted it will be as something that happens in normal families. That people need to ask their spouses RUOK and feel safe enough to answer honestly when asked themselves.

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Canadian in Glasgow August 16, 2011 at 9:19 pm

I don't think you can have a clear 'should' or 'shouldn't' in this Lori. The same way nothing about life is ever clear, or easy, or bloody right or clearly wrong in the end.

It's all a mess isn't it? Just to varrying degrees.

For me? Reading that raised flags…as a partner…and I think THAT was far more of a help than anything negative. Yes, the words haunted me. No, they don't always stop my own dark thoughts. But that wasn't what I took away from it. My message was as a partner to someone I love and never want to lose.

I understand you don't want to cause harm out there in the world. But the harm…if it's going to happen….I hate to say it, but if it's not you…it will be done someone else. Which is a shit view to take on it…but it's true. If someone is of that mind-set…the trigger will come in one way or the other.

All you can do is the best with what you've got….at any given time. Your words are your own. If you are OK with sharing them…and knowing you can't take them back anyway once said…keep them as your own and do what you want in your little space in this world.

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Anonymous August 16, 2011 at 9:15 pm

Hey Lori, from a personal pov – my ex-boyfriend took his own life, I found him – I have found you writing so openly and honestly about your experience so helpful to me. So thankyou. Love and light xxx

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Krissy H. August 17, 2011 at 2:58 am

I think your posts are incredibly helpful and they have helped me to open up and write more freely on my own blog. It has helped me confront myself and it has reached me when I was in a very dark place and gave me a nudge toward the light. It made me cry, made me think twice, made me want to live.

I was suicidal, and it made me want to live.

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Crystal Cheverie August 16, 2011 at 11:30 pm

If there is one reason and one reason alone that you should keep this blog exactly as it is and not change one single thing, it is this: You take the romance out of suicide.

By showing your journey after Tony's suicide in all it's rawness, all its ugliness, all its pain, you are waking people up to the reality of what they would be leaving behind if they were to take their own lives. You are making sure that people know that suicide is anything but romantic or glorious. I think people really need to know that, need to see that.

Whatever you decide to do, though, I'll still be around!

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Mary August 16, 2011 at 9:08 pm

I remember so many of those comments where people wrote that your writing had made them pause, reconsider, think again.

For that reason alone your writing has been so very important.

A friend who read your blog through a link I posted sent the blog to a friend of hers who happens to be a psychology lecturer. She was blown away. I don't know if she ever contacted you but it gave her a whole new insight into "the after."

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