A frequent contributor to these columns, Canguro, a couple of hours ago posted the following, which he was moved to by my essay below on male suicide. It’s an astonishing piece of writing and I felt I should emphasise it, and cheer him up a little perhaps, by running it here. When he eventually reaches Australia, if he does, I would like to have a drink with him, and hear some more of his biography. Here it is anyway, unedited.
…. Poignant essay, Bob. And I’m on the verge of returning to Australia after 7 years in Asia, the latest chapter of my life deliberately chosen as an escape from the madness brought on in the aftermath of a failed marriage, loss of contact with children, redundancy, slippage into dependency on the bottle, attenuation of friendships, and several attempts at suicide, some theatrical, some deadly serious, all brought on by the incessant and remorseless indwelling and self-flagellation and depression and unwillingness to unhinge my mental universe from its preoccupation with these historical events.
And my brother also, an early onset sufferer of Parkinson’s disease, who watched as his life fell apart, his business ruined, his second marriage failed when his stoic wife reached the end of her tether and his medication changes wrought psychosis on top of his physical ailments, who then found himself involuntarily committed to the psych ward of a NSW regional hospital and then farmed out to community housing where in his utter aloneness stepped off a chair with a rope around his neck, to end on the floor weeping with existential bewilderment after the hanging attachment broke.
And my father’s cousin, who shot himself on the first anniversary of his only child’s death at the age of 8, hit by a car travelling at highway speed, and both of them found by their mother and wife, who has lived 50 more years with the imprinted memories of these tragic deaths of the man & boy in her life. She could have gone mad, should have, but didn’t, and instead married my father after the early death of my mother, and spent the next 30 years caring for him, a survivor of the Burma railroad, a prisoner attached to the Konya camp, where the men slaved infamously on Hellfire Pass. Tragedy touches us all, in various ways.
Thanks for raising this topic, and now I’m weeping, alone, in China, and about to return to Australia to face my demons, again.