Suicide: the girl who refused to let joy into her life

My granddaughter killed herself because the rent was due. She was 21. She left her parents a note. In part it read: “I’m about to do something ungodly. I’m sorry.”

In retrospect, she was hell-bent on self-harm. I don’t know what her body did to offend her, but for the last half decade of her life she punished it without remission. She extended the maltreatment to her immediate family, excoriating her mother, defaming her father, denouncing them to her brother and sister.

Then she moved out “to be free”, and spent the next subsidised 18 months resisting every available mode of occupation or trade or pastime, insisting that all she really wanted to do was to “come home” – the home where the seeds of persecution and victimisation were allegedly sown, the home where anorexia took root and bulimia blossomed, the home where even she had begun to see that she was ill.

Yes, from time to time she accepted that she was ill and presented herself to those who could provide custodial intervention and sufficient carbohydrates to enable her to insist that she never had been other than entirely well, and whose domestic or institutional havens she would then renounce so that she could starve herself into the commencement of the next cycle.

Every tactic contradictory, every endeavour repercussive, obviously she was on the path to self-destruction. In retrospect.

Every spate of professional counselling added to her education in the methodology of professional counselling. Each medical intervention augmented her command of its jargon.

On her last admittance to Toronto’s prime psychiatric facility, sufficiently refreshed by a few days of its available stodge, she opposed remaining there long enough for a diagnosis to be accomplished, and she argued for her release at an official tribunal during which she held her own against a panel of psychiatrists, social workers and ward supervisors for four hours – a hospital record for duration – and ended the marathon by offering to return on a voluntary basis to provide art instruction to the inmates who, unlike her, needed to be incarcerated and, in her estimation, were bored. Continue reading

  • Jack Winter’s granddaughter Emma committed suicide when she was 21.
  • In New Zealand help is available from Lifeline New Zealand, 0800 543 354
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