Here goes, then

As I promised yesterday, I have comments to make around the following article:


The tale is a tragic and touching one in many ways, and this woman’s battle to carry on and do the best for her kids is unambiguously heroic.

Mark Thompson pointed the article out on Twitter. He also correctly pointed out that, “Everyone’s situation is different. You know nothing about this woman and her situation.”

There are no comments enabled on the story, but if there were, I can’t imagine it’d be long before men and women piled in to condemn the ‘cowardly, selfish’ guy who killed himself, thus depriving his children of their father.

There are bound to be surrounding circumstances to what happened, and the way they are glossed over makes me suspicious.

Almost four years ago, my husband killed himself when our children were three and five. He had untreated depression; he hanged himself.

What exactly was the nature of this ‘untreated depression’? By whom was it diagnosed? How long had it been a factor?

Was it, in fact, a diagnosis from Cosmo magazine, or by perusal of any number of medical websites, that provide the DSM IV manual criteria for diagnosing depression, which actually enable pretty much anyone to be handily and summarily ‘diagnosed’ with depression?

We had been amicably separated for more than a year before he died,

‘Amicably separated’? Uh-huh. How did that happen? We have no details. We do know this, though:

While everyone else was grief-stricken, all I could feel was rage, which alienated people and made me feel even angrier. It was probably my anger that kept me going. I raged that he had hurt his children like this, that he had made me a single parent, that he had bailed out decades too soon. It took more than a year for any compassion to kick in.

We do know some things, then.

We know that she thinks he had untreated depression. We know that she thinks they were amicably separated. We know that she felt anger and resentment at what he’d done.

We also know that men can often suffer worse than women from relationship breakups. And that men are 3 times more likely than women to commit suicide. And that the family courts, CSA et al are all quite arbitrarily inclined towards mothers, and against fathers. And that women can and do use their children (and access to them) as tools of emotional blackmail and revenge against fathers. And that separated mothers flagrantly ignore court-ordered access for fathers, without fear of legal rebuke.

That an organisation called “fathers for justice” exists at all speaks volumes.

I have a close friend. A lovely chap and great father. Last year, the mother of his child ripped his heart out and took a bite.

He spent many weeks living at my place while he got his life back together. In darker moments, he considered taking his own life. Thankfully for all concerned, he didn’t and he’s well on the way back to an even keel.

However, I’ve known him, and his erstwhile partner, for a long time, and if, heavens forbid, he had committed suicide, I can quite vividly picturing her employing the powerful female mechanism of post-hoc rationalisation. I can imagine her using it to gloss over the ugly truth of the way she’d treated him.

And I can imagine her telling the tale in precisely the way Suzanne Harrington does.

It’s an obvious psychological strategy, to avoid dealing with a very important and powerful concept that doesn’t get a single mention Ms Harrington’s story: guilt.

Where is it? Would a genuinely blameless person be of such strong character that they’d never even consider the idea of their own culpability?

To me, it stinks of wilful avoidance of a difficult truth.

Let the abuse commence.



7 thoughts on “Here goes, then

  1. One of my closest friends killed himself last year. There were no indications that this was about to happen, as far as I was aware of. Suicide is a very difficult topic to discuss. Some people consider themselves blameless, others truly believe that it was their fault, if only they did something. The only truth is in the person who killed themselves’ head. I realise this jas fuck all to do with your article, but just a thought from someone who thinks about this a lot.

  2. Won’t get any abuse from me – the thing with these interviews, like the ones now surfacing from Raoul Moat’s ex-girlfriends, is by definition, the suicide isn’t around to tell their side of the story….

  3. I have to say I am more on your side with this one. I suffered a completey unexpected marriage break-up from my ex-wife a couple of years ago. Thank god we had no kids to use as pawns and that I had the financial means to be able to make a clean break and get my own place in a new city immediately however emotionaly I was on the floor for a good 12 – 18 months.

  4. Ah the wonderful DSM …. A truly nonsense “guide” to mental illness (I am reluctant to use anything other than “guide”). The problem with suicide, more particularly the aspects of someone’s life that lead them to contemplate suicide, despite a number of inevitable commonalities amongst the populace, are entirely subjective. It’s easy to be sympathetic to would be suicides but empathy, now that’s another matter. What tips the scales (so to speak) for one man/woman is not the same as tips the scales for another. Therefore, we can’t exactly be objective about the causes post-suicide can we ?

    However, the statistic of more men committing suicide than woman does indeed some of the aforementioned commonalities.

  5. You’ll get no abuse from me.

    The only suicide of my close acquaintance was many many years ago – just 22 years old – and none of this applied in that case, afaik.

    But I have seen enough relationships break up to know that you only ever get one side of the story – almost always the female side, because the male side is removed physically from the scene in nearly every case. I simply don’t believe that 100% of the men in these cases have been the shits their ex-partners portrayed them as. It just cannot be that one-sided.

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