Nina - Interview 11
Age at Interview:
Nina is a student. She is single. Ethnic background/nationality: White British.
Brief outline:In 1999, Nina was shocked to hear that her brother, Joe, was in intensive care. He was aged 16. He had been found unconscious, hanging from a tree. He died three days later. Nina has found most support from friends, family, counsellors and SOBS.
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Were you offered any sort of support at the hospital by anybody?
No, no. Nothing, Absolutely nothing. We, we had to, we; we were left very much alone. Very, you know there was, no, no, not even a referral to the GP you know. Everything, everything had to come from us; we had to seek out the support.
Would you have liked the hospital chaplain or somebody to have come along?
I mean, they did, it was…
Was that too, too premature?
No I mean its personal preference really isn’t it? If you, if you would like, I mean I would just, I think that particularly because there is evidence to suggest that once you have a suicide in a family then you are more prone, you are, you know its, particularly in those, in those tender months, even years afterwards, there… there just should be some, there should be a referral I think you know if suicide is such a hard death to deal with, it’s such a stigmatised death, you’re not able to talk about suicide freely. You know, my Dad lost a friend over it, he wouldn’t speak to him because of, because of what happened. And I can, and I can remember you know people you know, I’d obviously, I’d moved back home and people knew, friends knew, school mates knew, school friends, but I can remember people crossing the street, just to avoid me, to not, whether or not that’s because you know they’re thinking, “Oh I can’t speak to, you know, that’s just too much for me to be able to speak to Nina.” And I’m sure, I’m sure that that, but its still, you know, added with the fact that you have, you know you’ve lost your brother, and then you have to cope with people’s reactions as well.
And when you were at the hospital, what was the interaction like then? It must have been difficult.
At the hospital we were just, everyone was in a daze, everybody was just, just had the, I can just remember this ache in my head which didn’t go for about a year, you know you’re just you just feel like someone’s got your brain and just [holds her head] just squeezing it, but interaction in the hospital within the family considering my parents had divorced and relations weren’t that good between them really, prior to Joe killing himself, at the hospital things, I mean I, you know family try to do, everybody just gelled together, it was, it was, it was quite remarkable really. Didn’t continue. But, you know at that time when, when you know when it was needed, well we were all going through the same experience, we were all losing you know our son, our brother.
So then was there an inquest?
How long afterwards?
The inquest, so Joe died end of October and I think that the first inquest was May, June? I might be wrong about that but it was a considerable time afterwards.
But the funeral was quite soon afterwards?
Oh yeah, oh yeah. But yeah the inquest, which is not, which is not abnormal, I mean inquests do, can take up to a year after death can’t they, which is horrible because I think you just, ‘cos you’re just waiting, and you’re expecting it, and its, closure is a horrible word, but that’s kind of, the last thing that you have to do and you are just kept waiting. I think it’s because also it was, we had to travel because where Joe actually died was not where we live so we had to travel outside, and go past the place where he died as well, to go to [the inquest]. We, our family, had great difficulty initially even accepting that Joe had committed suicide, we hate, you know the word suicide, just for our family it didn’t describe what Joe had done. I think because we had just had held the view, I mean prior to Joe doing this, that you know that people who killed themselves are depressed, down, possibly a history of mental illness, just all the things that that Joe wasn’t really, and because of this, and because he was, I think, because we were just stuck on the fact that he was actually happy, although he wasn’t happy; in the way that I kind of came to terms with it, is he wasn’t happy for that five minutes, when he actually, when he actually did it, or even half an hour, but prior you know prior to that, that its all it takes isn’t it, is just half an hour just to, just to flip. But I think because we were, because we were so adamant that he was happy, therefore how could he have killed himself, so when we went to the inquest, my Dad was adamant to the coroner that we don’t want to have suicide on his death certificate, it doesn’t, it doesn’t describe what we believe that Joe did, it was accident, it wasn’t a suicide, and the inquest got adjourned. My Dad, not so much Mum, but my Dad was upset that they you know that they didn’t take character references, you know they didn’t want to know the person that Joe was, all they were focused on was the manner in which he died. And because he had hung himself, therefore you know the coroner said that he couldn’t come up with an alternative cause of death, than suicide. But which at the time, we were angry about and we were really stuck on, but since I’ve managed to, to reconcile that with myself really, and I know that Joe did kill himself, I know that now it was just, you know, you don’t, you don’t have to be down, depressed, mentally unwell to, to kill yourself, it can happen to anybody, and so yeah I, whereas at the time when it first happened we were, we found that difficult but now that’s, I’ve resolved that for myself really, I know that he did.
I, I’ll never ever. I’ll never stop missing him, I’ll, I don’t think about him or I don’t think about the death, it doesn’t consume me as much as it initially did, and I can remember when I first started having hours, maybe even, no, never days, but hours where I wouldn’t think about him, yeah, possibly days, and I’d, and I’d be, I’d get really annoyed with myself and really angry with myself because you know I kind of thought well that means I’m forgetting about him but you know I was, he will always be a part of me as I said, and you know he, he has made suicide a part of, a part of me as well. I’ll never be the same person, I tend to get, I tend to get, they say that anger can be a, can be a part of suicide and I’ve never been angry at him, I’ve never been angry at anybody involved in his death, but I do tend to get angry with other people who just, ah, just get upset and over trivial things, and I just, but I that, that’s where I think I kind of you know, which is unfair, and which I know is unfair. I think it’s made me a shorter person; I have less time for things. …Yeah. But you know I’m happier that I ever thought would be possible when it first happened; I never thought that I would reach where I am now.
And I think there needs to be recognition that it [death by suicide] is a different death and I think that once you know, in the hospital, wherever, you know, there should be some support, there should be an automatic referral or something, you know, whether or not you need it or not, just so you feel connected, even here we go, here’s a number for SOBS, or here’s something, but there was just nothing. We were literally at the hospital for three days, said our goodbyes to my brother and went back and then just were left. And as I said, where, where do you go from now, what, what do we do now? Try and maintain a normal life, but, that’s not possible you know.
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