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Surviving Suicide
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"Surviving Suicide" was a one-hour documentary for Radio Four in September 1994. It was written and presented by Tom Robinson and produced by Cathy Drysdale.

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CHRISTINE: I took the tablets in the evening, and I put my best nightie on and went to bed, and I felt very very sleepy very quickly. I had put my cat out, everything; I'd written a note. I'd tidied up all my affairs as best I could. I drew the curtains and went to sleep. The next thing I knew I woke up in the infirmary with a very sore stomach and diarrhoea. It was snowing that morning. I realised I was in hospital, and I looked out of the window onto a building site and thought, "My God, isn't it beautiful". Now this was a building site with bricks and cement mixers covered in snow, and I thought, "you shouldn't be here at all. What on earth have you done?"

ANDREW: I began to feel physically rather unwell during the afternoon, or something like that, and it was about then that the phone went and it was a friend of mine on the phone who realised straight away that I sounded somewhat odd, let's say, and she asked what was the matter, was I alright and so on. I, in a sense, said stupidly that I had taken rather a lot of pills so she said, alright I'll phone the doctor immediately, but obviously I didn't feel it was fair to land this on somebody else so, with resignation, said, "alright, I'll get the doctor".

DAVID: The situation was that I'd gone unconscious for quite a while and when I woke up there was this brilliant light, and everybody talks about at the last moment you see this bright light, and this is it. This is where you are going, except that this bright light was the sun shining through the window, and there I was, still alive, hating it, and feeling a failure.

TOM: When I woke up in my school dorm next morning it took about two seconds to realise I was still alive and I burst into floods of uncontrollable tears. I was so bloody useless I couldn't even manage to kill myself. It felt as if something had snapped; the simplest decisions became the most enormous problems. That morning it took about half an hour just to get my socks on. I can't tell you how glad I am now, many happy years later, not to have succeeded back then, and tonight I'll be talking to five fellow survivors, tracing the journeys they too have made from terminal despair back to the everyday business of living.

Tragically, every year there are thousands of successful suicides, which usually devastate whoever gets left behind to pick up the pieces. The good news is that God, Providence or simply some inner prompting causes 90 percent of those who try, to fail - giving them one further chance to face the music and choose life.

LILY: I remember of all the things of that night lying in this bed with tubes and all sorts of things going on, and just seeing my parents and thinking, "they certainly wouldn't want it to come to this". I guess at that moment I realised that although suicide could end for me, so far as I could tell, would end for me what I was experiencing, that I considered so absoultey unbearable and filled me with such despair, it would end that for me ... but it wasn't an end and everybody else in the whole world continued, and the effect of my dying was really not what I was trying to accomplish in the world; it was what I was trying to accomplish in my own experience - just to stop everything, to cut everything off, and it wasn't going to do that.

TOM: Regaining the will to live is seldom easy or straightforward. What our five survivors and I had in common was an utter loss of self-esteem leading directly or indirectly to an attempt on our own lives. Now Self Esteem has been bandied around as a concept by so many cosmic airheads for so long that it's almost meaningless in everyday conversation, but believe me - it's real and it's precious, as Christine, David and Andrew can all testify.

CHRISTINE: My self esteem, obviously when you are in a suicidal state, goes down to nothing. You think you are lower than an ant. You feel dreadful; You look at yourself and think, "God I'm ugly. I'm horrible." Everything about you, your brain, everything siezes up. Your faith goes. There's nothing you like about yourself. It's a horrible experience.

DAVID: I really wanted to die. I didn't want anyone to understand the situation and talk me out of it. What it felt like really - the only way to describe it - is that you're standing face to face with a brick wall and behind you is another brick wall closing in.

You know Edgar Allen Poe's 'Pit and the Pendulum', it's closing, and closing and closing, and you're being squeezed and there's nowhere to go. Someone once described it as a bottomless pit, but it's worse than that. It's a bottomless pit that's full of whatever it is that's going to drown you. I wanted to go, but, again, I just didn't want any help. If someone had said, "here, put this needle in your arm or whatever and you'll go a damn sight quicker", yes, great, lovely, I would have taken that, and that would have been the help.

ANDREW: If they understand, and very few do, that is one thing. If they don't, then you are putting a tremendous burden on them and the more that they refuse to try to understand, the greater the gulf will become and so you are pushed further and further into this state of aloneness.

TOM: Now, maybe you've never felt like that, and maybe you feel you never will. But Christine's despair was triggered by external circumstances that any of us could face in the course of a lifetime, it's just that in her case, they all occurred at once.

CHRISTINE: I was a mangager at the time, I was married, I didn't have any children, I had two cats, but I was very happy. I lived for my work, and then all of a sudden my life changed completely when my mother became ill with terminal cancer. She sent for me on the eve before my birthday and said she couldn't cope any more, would I come up. I nursed her for a month and she died, and the evening before the funeral my father had a heart attack. He was taken into the infirmary and obviously was critically ill. I coped with the funeral and everything on my own. My husband did come up for the funeral, but I think he was a little bit jealous of the time that I'd spent with my mother, and consequently that put another pressure on me. My father then came to convalesce with me for l3 weeks to get ready to go back home to live on his own, and he had gone back in the February, and then in the April my husband then became ill with kidney failure. We then had to think about dialysis three times a week and there was no return from that.

TOM: So you had three close personal tragedies.....

CHRISTINE: Yes, all at once. I had no time really to grieve for my mother's death. I was on sleeping tablets. I couldn't sleep at all without sleeping tablets. I was totally dependent on them. I didn't want to wash. I didn't want to dress. I couldn't make decisions. I couldn't make a decision about what skirt to put on. I was that miserable, but I couldn't cry. I told the doctor this, and said, "I can't cry, I don't know what's wrong with me", so he upped the dose of tranquilisers. I was like a zombie. Every time I looked in the mirror my eyes were so black with the drugs, I could tell I was zapped out. Then I became anorexic. I lost weight to the degree that I was about 7 stone whet through; I didn't want to eat, smoked myself to death, was pumping these drugs into myself like mad, and one day the fridge went wrong, which is a minor thing.

Somebody came to repair it, it went wrong again, I had a fridge full of frozen food. We managed to distribute it among the neighbours, and eventually we had a new fridge freezer. My husband went to collect the food and when he went I went outside with a knife and cut myself because I didn't want to live any more. I had had enough. This problem just capped everything. It seemed so big I just wanted to be out. And the next thing I knew I was in the infirmary being stitched together with my husband standing over me.

He said, "why the hell did you do that?", and I said, "don't you know?", and he said, "no, I never thought you would do that". He was absolutely disgusted that I should even consider that, and he said, "you do realise that I had to clear up the mess, don't you?" But I can remember standing there doing it and thinking to myself, "I am not here. This isn't me. I just want to destroy myself", and I didn't feel a thing.

TOM: Once you came out of the hospital, and your husband had been unsympathetic in his response, what happened next?

CHRISTINE: I felt that nobody cared at all about me, including him, and I suppose it would only be a fortnight after that that I tried the second attempt.

TOM: That second attempt took place when Christine's husband was away in hospital, and she certainly would have died had a neighbour not noticed her living room curtains still drawn at ll.30 the next morning, and raised the alarm.

When Mary first tried to kill herself she was the single mother of two teenage boys and had a drink problem, which worsened after she was raped, despite the love and support of her sons and family. When her father died, she admitted herself once again to hospital in an attempt to dry out.

MARY: I came back out and I thought, "right I've done it. This time I wanted to dry out; I haven't done it for anyone else, I've done it for me, and everything's going to be OK". I went back to work and I was back at work two weeks, and I was on my way home from work on a Friday night and thought, "I'll just call for one". Anyone who drinks out there has got to know that it happens. I'll just call for one. And I did. I had two. And I really did only have two. I had no drink at home, and I knew I hadn't, and I was really proud of myself. I got out of the pub, got on the bus, and went home. As it happened my eldest son was out, but the youngest one wasn't. He just said, "you've had a drink haven't you? You couldn't bloody well wait, could you?" He just turned round and thumped holes in the door. He said, "you're bloody useless", and walked out in a huff. I don't know. I just sat there and looked at the walls and thought, "yes, you are useless. You're just making life harder for everyone else". And I just cut my wrists.

TOM: Where were you?

MARY: I was at home, in the living room. Then I think I decided to write the children a note - just "I'm sorry, forgive me" or something like that - and then because in the past I've had one or two physical illnesses, I was on painkillers of one kind or another; they used to take time to work, and I used to ring the Samaritans. My Mum was a Samaritan. I used to ring them just to talk to them, not because I was suicidal, just because they were there. They are really good the Samaritans for anything like that. I rang them up and just said, "I'm not ringing you up to tell you I'm going to commit suicide because I already have done. I just want somebody to talk to while I wait because I need to get someone to come and move me before the children come home". And I explained it all and this guy was really nice on the phone; he was very laidback about it all, obviously very experienced anyway. He said, "and what are your children going to find when they get home then?", and I said, "what do you mean?", and he said, "well, who's going to find all the blood because I presume there is some". Then it suddenly dawned on me and I looked and there was blood everywhere; I couldn't believe it.

I genuinely think he was so experienced that he just knew that what was bothering me was that the children didn't find me dead in the living room, and he realised I hadn't even thought of what reaction I'd get if they came home and found blood all over the place and me not there, and nothing to tell them where I was, except a note saying, "Please forgive me, I'm sorry".
I don't think I'd ever seen my mum cry before, and she did that day. It was devastating. She just said, "how could you? You're special. You know you're special. How could you?" The boys had completely different attitudes, of course. The youngest one felt really guilty because he was the last one to see me. He had shouted at me and that was it. I spent quite a lot of time explaining to him that what he had said was the final straw, not what had caused me to do it.

There was a lot more behind it than that. It was awful afterwards because then I had to see his face and see how he felt, which must have been dreadful. I mean it's an awful thing to do to him. I had to try and explain to him that it really wasn't his fault, and knowing he probably didn't believe me. It was very difficult. The eldest son came home and just shouted at me and asked me how I dared choose if he needed a Mum or not. Who made it my decision?
He was really genuinely quite angry with me and told me it was time I realised that he loved me very much and I had no right to take myself away, and "just behave yourself in future".

TOM: I'll never forget my own Dad reassuring me as I lay in hospital that he'd get me back to my 'A' Levels in no time. I think I muttered something callous about finishing myself off properly when I got out, and was astonished when he burst into tears and sobbed that he didn't want to lose me.

"How could you?" is the inevitable question faced by every survivor of a suicide attempt. Andrew, who suffered from clinical despression for many years, has given the answer plenty of thought.

ANDREW: When you reach the state of mind where you make that decision, then there just isn't room really for thinking about other people. You often hear it said, "didn't he care about us at all?" I think that as the state of blankness gets worse, then slowly but surely there is less room for thoughts which aren't involved with your own blackness until it reaches the point where there is no room for any other thinking at all, and it's not a question of selfishness, shutting out - I think it's the way the mind works in that context, and of course the bystander will say, "how on earth could he do that to his family?" If he had coldly done it to his family, that would be an apalling thing to do, but it is my own experience that there just isn't one scrap of space for thinking of others because your mind is so full of your own blackness.

TOM: The selfishness of suicide is a home truth which few survivors can bear to hear, at least at the time. Christine was still recovering in bed when she was visited by the psychiatric nurse.

CHRISTINE: "How could you do this?" This is a psychiatric nurse, remember. "How could you do this to your husband and father? You're so selfish". That was a psychiatric nurse.

TOM: Do you think now though, looking back years later, that it was selfish, or do you think it was justified?

CHRISTINE: I think it was absolutely selfish really. It was cruel, but you don't realise you are being selfish.

LILY: My parents came in, and it was this horrible, you know, greenish light of a hospital and there were my parents, looking half dead themselves. That really struck me. Seeing their faces, and realising that they had both, from their separate homes, driven all night to see, you know to come, and not know if I was going to be alive. That was awful.

TOM: Did you come to some realisation?

LILY: At that point, seeing how upset they were, I think I recognised that I had to be pretty serious about wanting to die to not care at all about the effects it would have on other people, and I knew that wasn't actually how I felt. I think when I saw my parents' faces I really recognised that I was a piece of something bigger than just my own little l6-year old life, and I suppose it made me a feel a little more strongly about what people saw as me. I don't think I ever felt that anyone hated me or anything, but I thought, "what difference does it make?"; all the sort of typical things that go through your head - "who really cares if I am not here anymore?" All that sort of thing. I realised that people did care, that I did have a contribution to make. I didn't know what it was yet - other than being their kid and somebody's sister - but I did have a contribution to make and I should give myself the chance to find out what that was going to be.

MARY: One of the things that actually stopped me doing any more, and I must admit this has probably had a major effect on me, was one of the nurses - and I don't know who it was, I can't remember who it was - said to me, "what would you do if your Mum came in here tomorrow and told you that your youngest son had just committed suicide?" I said, "Oh God, no don't". I just couldn't bear to think about it. And she said, "well, that's what your Mum's been going through. Can you really put her through this again? Are you going to try again because this is what you're doing". And I really saw that I hadn't thought about it - how I would feel if one of my children tried to commit suicide. And I only blame myself for everything now; God knows what I would have felt like if they had done that. So I didn't do it again. I never tried to commit suicide again after that.

TOM: For all my fellow survivors the long slow haul to recovery began with a sense of connection with others - being part of something wider than ourselves, and of having a contribution still to make. For David it also involved a surrender. Ten years ago as an insurance salesman, he cracked under the combined pressures of work and the need to provide for his family. Two attempts to end his life led to a spell in hospital which didn't help; he lost his job and came home a broken man.

DAVID: I came home, no job, no anything. Very understanding wife. I said, "what are we going to do?" Basically it came down to, "we'll just have to start again". I was on long-term sickness - invalidity - benefits because I was off for so long.

TOM: Was she angry with you?

DAVID: Yes, naturally.

TOM: And the kids?

DAVID: Yes, the kids treated me as a stranger. You know, - what's my Dad done this for?

TOM: Can you talk about it with them now?

DAVID: Not a great deal, no. Nobody wants to talk about it, nobody at all. How do you say to somebody, "I want to talk about when I nearly wasn't here"?. How do you bring that up? If ever there was a conversation stopper, that is. It's like throwing a bucket of cold water in the middle of a good party, a rave-up, and why should you burden them with your problems? That's what you begin to think. The only people were those in the hospital, or the people who had done a similar thing. The funny thing was, I have no religious beliefs at all, but it was a local rector who came to see me. Somebody in the parish had said, "we've got one of our neighbours up in the hospital". He came to see me and that started a connection, funnily enough, which I think put me back on my feet because they were starting, I suppose you'd call it these days, a 'drop-in' centre and I volunteered my services, and I reckon that put me back on my feet.

But even when the opportunity of a job arose I didn't feel I could work full time. I was almost a broken man. I just didn't feel I wanted responsibility any more. To a point I still don't. I feel guilt because my wife works full-time and she is the one who is the main breadwinner, when really, in the old way of looking at things, I should be the main breadwinner.

TOM: It's interesting though, isn't it, because you are now in a situation where your wife is the breadwinner and you are able to soft pedal and not be under that pressure. Do you think maybe if only you could then at the beginning have just said to your wife, "I've got to pack in my job, can you take over?", do you think that might have actually taken that off and you wouldn't have had to go through all that?

DAVID: Probably, but how do you ask a wife to burden the responsibility of a husband? I'm of an age where I still hold doors open for a lady; I walk on the outside of the pavement. I still, to a point, feel a failure because I am the male. I should be the one bringing in the money - not relying on my wife to do it. In the future my position may never arise, but you've got to educate people of an older age group to come to this idea.

TOM: That's right, because, like you say, it would have been hard on your wife to turn to her in those early days and say, "I can't cope, please will you find a job and take over", but think how much easier it would have been on her than having a husband go through two suicide attempts, all the depression, - you actually put her through far more by not asking her to take the burden.

DAVID: I agree. I can look back on it now and see; I mean she has been an absolute brick, but I couldn't feel that at the time.

TOM: But ten years on you've let go of that kind of insane ideal, and been living far more happily for ten years as a result.

DAVID: Yes, living a much more fulfilled life. I've realised that I don't have to be macho man. I don't like football, and so what? It doesn't matter. I detest football.

TOM: And your wife still loves you.

DAVID: More than ever. That's the wonderful thing, and a totally different lifestyle has made it such that it's much more, much more fulfilling, much happier, much less stress. What we do have now pleases my wife to a point; she'd still like to go back to a part-time job, but what she enjoys is coming home to a cooked meal! You see I do the shopping and I do the cooking, and I enjoy cooking which is something I didn't do before. But I can't tell my wife, "altogether I'm glad you're working full-time; I'm glad you're out there; I don't have to worry about it."

TOM: A change of viewpoint and the love of an understanding partner were enough to give David back his vigour and humanity. For myself it was the discovery that 'A' levels and heterosexuality were strictly non-essential for a happy and fulfilled life. But for others, like Andrew, fighting the suicidal urge is part of a longer, harder struggle. The dark spectre of his mental illness was responsible for his last attempt.

ANDREW: It was in August '86, so that's really 8 years ago, and there were quite a lot of further very black periods in the interim, and in each of these black periods this question again of calling it a day always comes up.

There is nothing sinister about that. That is an ordinary part of being severely depressed. I think one of the very sad things is that you have cancer, or say you have a stroke and you've got to learn to re-use your arm or whatever it is, and the world and his wife are so sympathetic, and they'll do all sorts of things to help and so on, but you have mental illness, and people either don't want to know or they think you're a lazy so and so or whatever it is. Mental illness doesn't exist. It's the state of your own mind, and all you've got to do is stop being sorry for yourself.

TOM: Snap out of it.

ANDREW: Snap out of it, and stop being so sorry for yourself. If it were as simple as that, you wouldn't be spending how many - I've spent nearly two years, not all at once in a mental hospital - do you think I did that by choice? I was on a severe disablement allowance for a long time because of the state of mind. Did I do that by choice? It is the lack of understanding and the attitude of so many who just 'pooh pooh' the whole idea of there being an illness such as a mental illness, that makes the task of the person suffering many many times harder.

CHRISTINE: I went to see a lady psychiatrist who I used to work with, and she talked to me for an hour and a half. She said, "I can understand you want to go back to work; all that's wrong with you is that you've got a heap of worries that need sorting. You'll be able to do that in time, but I'll recommend that you go back to work, and I'm going to write to your GP". I could have kissed her feet.

And I did go back to work, and that's when I started to recover, but I was working again in the psychiatric hospital, and I'd been back at work three months and I said, "I'm not having this any longer" - you see I got a bit of strength from somewhere - and I applied for another job and got it. Now I did that myself. My strength came back. Gradually, not all at once, gradually, I wanted to sort my life out. I found as I began to sort it out, so I attracted new friends, some of my old friends came back, I started to laugh again, which I had forgotten how to do, and I started to believe in, not God exactly because I wouldn't say I believe in God as a thing, but in spiritual things, again. My faith came back, and everything has progressed from there.

TOM: Did your relationship with your husband improve?

CHRISTINE: Yes. But then it would do because I wasn't negative anymore, and the more positive I became, the more I could do for him, and the easier I could make life for the pair of us. It's increased my workload tremendously. It's not easy doing a full-time job, looking after somebody who is terminally ill, and coping with everything else, but I'm enjoying it.

TOM: How long ago did all this take place?

CHRISTINE: Oh dear, - two years ago.

TOM: So you are still really emerging from the forest?

CHRISTINE: Yes. I've got through the forest, but it was exactly that - like coming through a dark, dark wood and out the other side.

TOM: Has the experience changed you?

CHRISTINE: Completely and utterly. I'm stronger now than I was before and everything I've touched this year, which is strange, has gone well.

TOM: Christine's realisation that she was far from helpless - she had choices and could affect her own destiny for better or worse - has helped her finally turn the corner. Lily, too, came to the same realisation while at expedition school, travelling around remote parts of the United States.

LILY: One of the main premises of this expedition school is that the students decide by consensus what they are going to do. There is a certain amount of course work they need to do, but they travel around the United States and Canada, and basically say, "OK, today we are going to the Grand Canyon to study geology", and I decided to go on a short version of it in the summer to the south western United States - basically to the deserts and the mountains. And that was wonderful, and I think that's where I started to really shed the selfishness I'd been living with and see that there's so much more out there.

Physically, I actually remember this moment when I saw the horizon, and the horizon was just so huge out west, and I thought, the world is much bigger than I thought it was, and everything wasn't so close around me.

I think it was fairly symbolic because I felt like my eyes had to adjust, and my brain had to adjust to this amount of space and this amount of nature and this very fragile relationship between people and the desert, and seeing my impact with everything I did - and recognising you can't be bulimic in the wilderness, was one thing - you can't kind of abuse food and find a toilet all the time. I remember at first people kept saying things like, "you are part of the planet". This was said over and over by one person in particular, and I sort of thought "that's very nice" and kept ignoring it. I do remember much in the way people talk about a religious moment of seeing the light - I do remember this moment when that clicked. I thought, "I really care about the environment; I care about the planet. I am trying to treat the planet well, but I cannot do that if I am not going to treat myself well, and everything sort of fell into place after that.

ANDREW: As I spent more and more time in mental hospital, I began to realise that other patients found me somebody they were very happy to talk to, and I think it was possibly this that suggested that maybe I did have a role to play in life, and I think that's a very important key. It's no good just filling in your days; you have to feel you are a contributory member of society, and I wonder if that was something to do with the turning point. It may have been the whole turning point, I don't know.

I think - and this is over-simplifying things far too much - but I think basically it turns on the belief in oneself, and it doesn't mean to say your role in life must be one whereby you help other people, it's one where you can regain your self-respect.

TOM: Andrew's illness is now in remission and he once again feels like the man he was 20 years ago, yet his recovery remains fragile. Mary too is slowly winning her battle with alcohol, helped by a new husband, himself a former patient, whom she met in hospital while at her lowest ebb.

MARY: I can remember how I felt; it hasn't gone and there are times still when I get down that I can remember the spiral and how it works; you can go down and down and there's no way out. But now Adam's always there.

TOM: What was it about Adam's love and support for you that made it possible for you to accept that and believe it in the way you couldn't from your own family?

MARY: He accepted me as I was. Everything, warts and all. I was still an alcoholic when I came out to Adam, and I was out to prove I was as well. There was no way it was going to be any easy option - I drank seven days a week when I first came out just to prove that I could. I was dreadful. And he never said anything. He just let me do it - until I ran out of money. If I wanted to eat, the food was there. If I didn't, then I didn't. Eventually I found I didn't need to drink any more; I've actually stopped drinking believe it or not - I can't believe it yet because it hasn't been very long.

TOM: How long is it?

MARY: About two months, three months.

TOM: That's good.

MARY: It's a hell of a long time for me, and this is not just stopping drinking and saying, "I want a drink, but I'm not having one", this is, "I don't want a drink". I had a glass of wine, I don't know, last week some time, and I didn't want to drink another three bottles. I just had a glass of wine with a meal. And it seemed normal. It's impressive. I don't know how this has happened; I think it's just total acceptance. It's love and acceptance all mixed up together, - and not judging people. I still have feelings of guilt about the children. I am better. I think I've done the worst things I could ever do. I think I've hurt people as much as you can hurt them. I'm not l00 percent. I don't know who is, but I'm not as bad as I was.

TOM: Brave and cheerful words to end this programme. Of course, none of us are ever l00 percent, but we stumble through and sometimes life is sweet. So if you now, feel like I did then, for God's sake don't wait until the black day finally dawns when you try to end your life. Pick up the phone now and get some help.

All my fellow survivors tonight have enjoyed years we never thought to see - just remember the joy in David's voice as he laughed about cooking for his wife - when ten years ago nothing on earth could have induced him to live. As T.S. Eliot said, "People change, and smile".

LILY: I still end up at dead ends. I still end up feeling very much like this isn't where I am meant to be, but I recognise that all through my life all my successes and failures have been my own choice, and I continue to not feel embarrassed and ashamed of having tried to commit suicide and of having really difficult times. But I do feel that they were instruments to get me back to finding out what's important, what will always be important no matter what you do in your life. At a philosophical level, what you are really doing is taking control of your own destiny and that's the most important thing - that is absolutely the thing that saved me - that you can actually sit down and say, "I don't want to be here. What does that mean to me? OK, I don't want to be here in this place, this building, this relationship, this family, this school, this job". Well, make some part of that change, and try and do it in a way where you're not going to cut yourself off from everything, but to support yourself in some way. I think that's the main thing.

MARY: Just stop for a moment to think of the person nearest to you, in a way, or the person you feel most responsible for perhaps, and think how you would feel if they did it, and you were the one that survived, because it can be a lot harder for the person that survives than for the person who dies.

I'm not going to say it's the coward's way out because I don't believe it is. I think it takes a lot of courage to try and commit suicide, and I'm not saying that because I did it. It takes courage both ways - it takes courage to commit suicide, and it takes courage to live. But just try and think what effect it is going to have on somebody close to you, and see then whether it's worth it, and which is the most courageous.

ANDREW: There is a huge joy, as far as I'm concerned, that I failed on that second occasion because I have found what I hope will be the path to a contributory role in life, and I would never have found that if I'd succeeded. I once saw something or heard something or saw it written down somewhere which was simply called 'the question of suicide'. And all it said after that was, 'it is not an answer, it is much better left a question', and I think that's very true indeed.


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