So Sally Brampton came to the end and walked into the sea to die. I found her writing on depression the most instructive and enlightening I had ever read. Many years ago a friend at work suffered the suicide of her brother. On the day she came back to work, because everyone felt so awkward, the manager put me and my friend in a corner of the bank to check a long list of regular payments. A job that would supposedly take a week. As we halfheartedly ticked away at boxes on forms that we weren’t reading properly, we began to talk about her brother. She was upset at his selfishness and I completely understood that. She was dealing with the fallout; her  mother’s anguish, her own terrible loss, the annoyance at how stigmatised she felt. I could do nothing but agree. How could he treat those he loved like this?
Years later I read a column by Sally Brampton on suicide and suddenly, I at least partly understood. 

Killing oneself is, anyway, a misnomer. We don’t kill ourselves. We are simply defeated by the long, hard struggle to stay alive

People with this level of depression don’t make an effort to kill themselves. They make an effort not to take their own lives. Every day that they are this depressed, they make a gargantuan effort to stay with those they love. For some, eventually, the effort gets too much. 

It is very dark out there sometimes for some people. I can get a bit frustrated at Christians who talk about God being light (which he is) and because God is everything therefore there is no room for dark – so let’s all just cheer up a bit eh? 
But John talks about God being the light that breaks through the darkness which surely acknowledges that God knows that some people are having really hard times. 

If I am told to bring salt and light to people’s lives, I have to first acknowledge that some people are in the dark. I’m supposed to bring light, not make them feel worse for being in the dark in the first place. Life bites people on the bum sometimes. Do I believe that God has the power to break through all this darkness and bring clarity and light? Yup I do. Does that diminish the reality of the suffering for the sick, the lost, the lonely? What do you think? 



  1. May 16, 2016 / 8:02 am

    Poor girl.
    Yes I do believe that the power to break through the darkness belongs to God, but that's because I believe in Him. My belief is not necessarily going to make a difference to another person's life/belief/sadness however much I might want it to. I'm not putting this very well.
    I've never been in that desperate place of darkness except for a brief post natal depression which was bad enough, but I am sure you are right about being defeated by the struggle of life. I feel so sad for her family.

    • May 16, 2016 / 12:27 pm

      Yes, it's all very well with people who have a faith believing that God can sort it but that's because we believe. It is indeed very sad.

  2. May 16, 2016 / 6:08 pm

    I think it is like alcholism, noone chooses to be like that, out of control of your own life. I dont know anyone who has killed themself, but I do have a friend whose life is ruined by drink, and noone can say or do anything to help. Not children or parents…

    • May 17, 2016 / 7:54 am

      Indeed. More sympathy and less judgement is important I think, but it is a terrible thing for those who love the people they are losing

  3. May 19, 2016 / 10:54 am

    We are having a funeral service in our little town for a lovely school teacher who ended his life last week. I feel so sad for his family and the children he taught at our local high school. Thank you for this very insightful post.

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