“One of the most disturbing ways of death is suicide,” writes Pat Crowley in his series on suicide, which he’s been publishing on his website (www.patthebarber.com), “disturbing, that is, for the relatives and friends of the one who is now dead. To anyone who has never walked down that narrow and usually one-way path, death by suicide is incomprehensible — it just doesn’t seem normal to take one’s own life, to choose death over life. To die in preference to living life at all costs, interferes shockingly with how we view the norm.”
It’s been a busy year for Pat since he published ‘The Rose and The Stone’ in 2013: he has the writing bug in earnest now — he is working his way towards a second publication (the ‘Rose’ was his first) — and he is much in demand for talks (see below for a list of up-coming talks in the local area).
Although in his talks Pat covers a variety of subjects — the duality of self and spirit, selfness and wellness, identity and mindfulness and so on — he has of late been writing a sustained and remarkable series on the subject of suicide.
“Suicide is the ultimate act of the ego”, he says, “I don’t mean that in a condemnatory way — I am full of sympathy for those who find themselves in that dreadful frame of mind. To say if the person who ends their own life would not do so if they realised how ‘selfish’ they were being, or if they realised how much heartbreak their suicide would bring to their loved ones and friends —these kinds of statements hold little or no meaning for them, for theirs is a different reality.”
“The person who falls victim to suicide is exactly that, a ‘victim’, for they are not at fault, not responsible for the condition they have become prisoners of — a way of being that seldom if ever comes out of the blue despite (sometimes) appearances to the contrary. Rather it would appear to have the nature of a predisposition that is waiting in the wings, as it were, often remaining veiled even from themselves”
“To me there seems to exist a personality type, who, because of the way they are within their most intimate self, are from the beginning destined for emotional trouble of one kind or another. The various forms that this predetermined trouble with life expresses itself will vary from person to person. For one it may be a predisposition to suicide, for another a predisposition to alcoholism or any of the other addictions that presently beset the human creature.”
“This highly emotionally sensitive and often intensely private disposition determines that the sufferer will interpret all of life’s events emotionally, all of life is personalised, taken personally, and its events are given an emotional valuation that life neither deserves, demands, nor asks for; often an obsessive thinking process and an intense self-consciousness also contribute to the suicidal predisposition.”
“This strictly private way of being is, I feel, the true cause of the majority of suicides, and not the more obvious events that we normally point to in our desperation to understand one of life’s most heartbreaking occurrences.”
“For the individual who gives to all of life, an emotional investment that is far in excess of what life demands, there will always be a huge deficit in the emotional rewards that life in general can return. The person feels short changed, life doesn’t seem to care, something is wrong but they don’t know what, because this much troubled mindset denies the sufferer a reasonable overview of either themselves or life in general.”
“The person may hold exaggerated feelings of superiority, be very talented, be highly obsessive, a perfectionist, fanatical with the all rightness of everything they do, while also demanding perfection from others and even from life itself. Wherever they look they see stupid people, living stupidly in a stupid world, “What’s the point?” they ask in exasperation.”
“On the other hand, while possessing all of the above qualities, instead of taking life on, and trying to forcefully bend it to their own exaggerated will, they may simply withdraw, back away from life and all its contradictions, and then from their small mental bunker, they peep out at life, and see only negativity everywhere, only bad things happening.”
“They may be overly critical of themselves, of others, and life in general in a melancholy sort of way, while at the same time hold fantastic notions about governments, big business, and other powerful institutions, conspiracies abounds, their thinking becomes wildly fantastic, bearing little or no relation to their own small life of prison-yard-like freedom.”
“Whichever way it plays out (and there are many others also), the truth is these remain only outward manifestations of a much troubled inner world that sentences the unfortunate individual to live with few defences against the overwhelming harshness of reality, and a feeling that they possess a few layers of skin less than everyone else, whom they see living life with impunity, while they themselves are almost blueprinted to lead a difficult and intensely private emotionally painful life.”
“One of the other contradictions of the suicidal predisposition is that in spite of being overly emotional in their private interpretations of life, they may be incapable of sharing their emotional side with others, even with those they love dearly. Often this inability is masked by humour, sarcasm, or even anger if the subject is broached too directly. This inability to communicate how they feel arises not because they don’t want to, or need to, but simply because they are unable to do so, as no keys are available to open their prison doors from the inside, which is the only way that the inner prison doors of the human psyche may be opened.”
Pat will be speaking at the West Cork Hotel in Skibbereen on Tuesday, September 9 at 8pm. He will also speak at the ‘Dervish’ centre on Cornmarket Street in Cork city on September 13 (4 to 6pm), the Kyds Meeting Room in Killarney on September 16 (starting at 7pm), and at the Fionnuisce Meeting Room, Bandon September 18 (8pm). See his website www.patthebarber.com for further details.
Pieta House Open Day
Pieta House will throw open the doors of its suicide and self-harm crisis centres throughout the country on Saturday, September 6 ahead of Suicide Awareness Week. All centres will be open to the public from 2pm to 4pm, and people will have the opportunity to take a tour of the counselling rooms, have a cup of tea, meet some of the therapists and have any of their questions answered.
“With Suicide Awareness Week coming up we’re excited to welcome the local community into our centres, bring them beyond the hall door and help them learn more about the free service we provide,” said Joan Freeman, CEO of Pieta House. “We want to show people that Pieta House is an accessible, comforting and compassionate place where everyone is treated with respect. Seeking help is not something to be afraid of,” she said.
Pieta House’s focus for Suicide Awareness Week is on the ‘SIGNS of suicide’. An educational campaign to help the public recognise the signs of suicidal behaviour and offer advice on what to do if a loved one is in crisis.
Pieta House has four Dublin centres in Lucan, Finglas, Ballyfermot and Tallaght, and centres throughout the country in Limerick, Cork, Tuam, Roscrea and Castleisland. Visit www.pieta.ie for addresses and contact information.
Suicide Awareness Week runs this year from Monday, September 8 to Sunday, September 14.