A-Z

Lucy - Interview 38

Age at interview: 39
Brief Outline: Lucy's partner, Darrell, committed suicide in 2005. He drove his car in front of a train. He had been depressed but his suicide was a complete shock to Lucy. She has found support through family and friends and via an online group, Widowed by Suicide.
Background: Lucy is an employee support officer. She is single. Ethnic background/nationality: White British.

More about me...

Lucy and her partner, Darrell, had been together for almost 16 years. Darrell had seemed a little depressed for about six months before he died. He had been to see his GP and had asked her to arrange some counselling, but the GP had only prescribed anti-depressants, which Darrell did not want to take. The GP insisted that he should try tablets before she would consider any counselling. During the six weeks before Darrell died he had “highs” and “lows” and Lucy had to try to lift him out of his depressions. Two weeks before he died he had a panic attack and then felt worried and anxious.
 
In November 2005 a policeman called on Lucy while she was at home and told her that there had been an accident between a car and a train and that Darrell had been killed. This was a terrible shock to Lucy. About five days later she found a file on her computer from Darrell, called “Goodbye Lucy”, and a letter explaining that he was feeling depressed and that he did not want to continue worrying about her or himself. It then became obvious to Lucy that Darrell’s death had been a suicide. Lucy felt relieved when she read Darrell’s letter because he said that he knew that she loved him and cared about him.
 
A police woman, who acted as a family liaison officer, suggested that Lucy should go to stay with a friend because she said that Lucy would need support. She also pointed out that once the inquest had been opened and adjourned the news reporters might bother her for more information. The press did call at the door wanting details of what had happened so Lucy prepared a press statement from the whole family, so that the reporters would leave them alone.
 
After Darrell’s death Lucy rang as many members of the family as she could, to tell them what had happened. Darrell’s body was released a few days later. Darrell was cremated and his ashes were interred in his grandparents’ grave.
 
The family liaison officer acted as a “go-between”, between the family and the Rail Transport Police, who were also investigating the circumstances surrounding Darrell’s death. They wanted to make sure that the crossing had been safe and that the train had been in good working order. Lucy found that all these officials were very kind people.
 
The inquest was five months after Darrell’s death, during which other evidence was presented, and witnesses were asked to give statements. The jury concluded that Darrell had committed suicide. Lucy thinks that Darrell was brave to end his life in this manner. She also thinks that the verdict was correct. Darrell planned everything carefully when he was alive and so any other verdict, such as accidental death, would have been out of character. Darrell had always been very meticulous, and so Lucy thinks it was fitting that the jury concluded that he had carefully planned to end his life.
 
Lucy went back to work three weeks after Darrell died. She found that other people did not want to talk about Darrell’s death, and they felt uncomfortable when she mentioned the subject. However, Lucy found it easier to bring up the subject and talk about it openly. This is how she dealt with what had happened. After the inquest some people expected Lucy to be back to normal, but she says that Darrell’s death has changed her whole outlook on life and that she will never be back to “normal”.  
 
A year after Darrell died Lucy went to Las Vegas, a place where she had spent a great deal of time with Darrell. She felt that his spirit was there in the casinos and that in Las Vegas she could say good-bye to him. After crying for three days she decided it was time to start a new life. She is now trying to find a new “normal”, but she says that starting life again as a single person without a partner is very, very difficult.
 
Darrell’s death has improved family interaction. Before Darrell’s death she and Darrell had very little contact with either family, but both families have pulled together and now Lucy feels that she is part of Darrell’s family rather than just a girlfriend or a partner. Both families have supported her. Thus she feels that some good has come out of a terrible situation. 
 
Most of Lucy’s support has come from family and friends. She has also joined an online support group called Widowed by Suicide. By sharing experiences by email Lucy has found help and support and has been able to support others too. Lucy’s local vicar has asked Lucy to help others who live in the community who have also been bereaved. Lucy has found it helpful to help others in this way. This work has helped her to recover.

Lucy was interviewed in December 2007
 

 

Darrell asked the GP to refer him for talking therapy and told the GP that he would not take...

Darrell asked the GP to refer him for talking therapy and told the GP that he would not take...

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

Why do you think that the GP didn’t refer him for counselling straight away?

 

I don’t know. Whether it’s, whether it’s just an easy option to write out; she gave him a print out from the Internet to say about depression and panic attacks and all that for him to read.  But obviously he’d already been on the Internet and looked at stuff and that hadn’t helped him, which is why he went for outside help. He needed to talk to someone.


Hmm.


I suppose the next option would have been for him to go and pay for a professional counselling but he wasn’t a person to go to a, a doctor’s …


Hmm.


If he’d gone, you know that it was something serious that was worrying him that he couldn’t cope with because he wasn’t one to go to the doctor’s.


Hmm.


But she didn’t link onto that.  When he first went to the doctor’s she didn’t want me in the room.  She said, “This is a confidential thing between patient and doctor”, and he had to persuade her to let me in, to sit in on the interview.


Hmm.


Or the, the consultation. Because he was worried that he might forget something that might be of help to make him better. But she was insistent on him taking these tablets and the counselling thing, although we asked and asked, it was, “Let’s try this first.” 


Did he ask more than once for some counselling?   


Yeah, he said that, “I don’t want to take tablets; I do need to talk to someone.  Is there someone I can go and talk to?” And she said, “No, we’ll, it’s normal for us to try tablets first, this is what I’ll give you.” 


Hmm. 


And she explained what they were and I mean I can’t even remember the name of them now, but he never cashed in the prescriptions, there was no way he was going to take them. Knowing him, knowing that he wouldn’t even take paracetamol for a headache, he’s not going to take anti-depressants.


Do you think he told the doctor he wasn’t going to take them or did he not want to? 


Well he, he told her that she was wasting the paper printing out a prescription. So, but, that was what she was going to do and that was what she did.


Hmm.


But I mean, every patient’s different. I mean, it’s difficult for the doctor’s to know whether people are just saying it or how the situation is.  But for Darrell, he was never going to take them.


Hmm. 


Sometimes it helps them to take it and then they can work past it and …


Hmm.


… everyone’s different.

 

At first Lucy thought her partner’s death had been an accident, but about a week later she found...

At first Lucy thought her partner’s death had been an accident, but about a week later she found...

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

My life changed completely when my partner, Darrell, committed suicide in November 2005. He’d had slight depression prior to this, but gave no signs of wanting to take his life, or leaving at all. The first I knew of it was when a policeman knocked on my door and said there’d been an accident between a car and a train.


Hm.


I was then, told to … was there someone I could call, which I called a friend. And then another policeman arrived and I was told that Darrell’s car had been hit by a train and he was dead at the scene. I was then contacting families, to let them know that he had died.


Terrible shock for you.


Yeah … complete shock. Yeah.


The policeman came to the door?


Yes.


He came and what happened when he came?


The biggest, hugest policeman I’ve ever seen in my life, he just filled the whole doorway. But he was very kind. He came, walked upstairs with me because I lived in a flat upstairs. And just said there’s been an accident. He then sat me down and let me waffle and ramble, until another police lady came. And she explained that Darrell’s car had been hit by a train and he was killed instantly. At that time, nobody knew whether it was a suicide or an accident so they keep saying it was an accident, accident.

 

It wasn’t until a few, sort of, I suppose it would be a week, ten days that, just before the funeral, that I found a letter on my computer saying, “Good-bye Lucy.” And it was only just by luck that I‘d gone on there and, and seen it. There were no other signs anywhere else, that he was going to do this.

 

Lucy says that stigma is attached to the word ‘suicide’ and she has experienced stigma since...

Lucy says that stigma is attached to the word ‘suicide’ and she has experienced stigma since...

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

I mean, it’s, it’s a scary thing to think that someone’s got into that state that they want to take their own life and there’s still a lot of stigma where you say the word suicide and people like cross the street or if they come and speak to you about it it’s because they’re curious about gossip rather than curious about how someone’s actually got to that state. So it’s still, it’s still quite a stigma to actually say the word.


Have you experienced that?


Oh yeah. When I went back to work, I don’t know whether it was just because there’s been a death or whether it’s particularly suicide, but after I went back to work, lots of people who you thought were like close work colleagues were avoiding you. Conversations would stop when you’d walk in a room. A lot of people might find that quite difficult but I think I then started to speak out and say, look this has happened. I was quite open right from the beginning, that this has happened to me…

 

The families had disagreements before Darrell died but his death made people stop and conclude...

The families had disagreements before Darrell died but his death made people stop and conclude...

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

How did all this affect family interaction? Did families come together?


Yeah. Since this has all happened obviously I’ve now become closer to Darrell’s family.  


Hmm.  


And I’m now part of their family rather than Darrell’s girlfriend or fiancée that I was. I’m now a part of their family and I’m in contact with his, his parents on a weekly to daily basis the same as I am now with my parents. I mean, not everybody’s welcomed me back but this is real life, not everything goes as, to plan. But more good has come, come out of his death than, than bad, definitely.


I was going to say, would you see that as a positive thing then?


Yeah. 


Hmm.  


I mean, nobody wants to that someone’s got to lose their life to do this.


No.


But definitely where there were disagreements in the families before, that has helped to make people stop and think, is this really worth it? Should we do this or should we do that?  And I think everybody’s a lot closer for it. 


Hmm. 


And a lot more positive has come out, more good’s come out of it than bad.  And if that’s, if that’s something good to come out of it then, then that’s how, how we’ve taken it.

 

The police arranged for a press officer to take a statement about Darrell and the way he died so...

The police arranged for a press officer to take a statement about Darrell and the way he died so...

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

And she [the family liaison officer] said, “There is a possibility that once the details of Darrell’s death is released, the inquest is opened and adjourned, while they look into stuff and the investigation into his death happens, they will be wanting to know your side of the story.” And I thought, I, we’re just private people, we don’t, there is no reason for anyone to know what’s gone on.


Hmm.


But the neighbours did tell me that after his details had been released there were reporters knocking on the door and we found little business cards through the door, “Please contact us and let us know your side of the story and what’s happened and …” We’d only lived there for like three months so the neighbours didn’t really know us that well. So it was a complete shock for them to suddenly see …


Hmm.


… a picture of their neighbour on television …


Hmm.


... saying that he’d taken his life. And then to have a reporter knocking on your door wanting to know, “How do you know the neighbours? How well have you known this man?” type thing. But no one gave any details out. And we were told by the police that the only way to stop these reporters, they wouldn’t stop until you’d got, they’d got my side of the story, if you like. So the police arranged for one of their press people to come and do a statement and we did a press statement from the whole family.


Hmm.


So that they had something to go on so they would leave us alone to, to grieve and, and bury our, our man.


Hmm. So you just prepared a short statement?


It was a full A4 page in the newspaper. With the interview from, the press from the police had worked out a, a statement of his life and, and then they did the bit at the end of how he’d taken his life and how he died and the details of, of what had happened.


Hmm.


And we just gave the details of Darrell’s life so that people, it was like, it, it would, so there was something for them to release.


So would you recommend doing that, so that you’re then left alone?


Yeah, because I think until, I mean it’s a hard thing, it’s different for every person but until they’ve got the information, they don’t care about the people that are involved and the family, what they’re going through.


Hmm.


They just want their, their pound of flesh if you like.


Hmm.


So if you, providing your, the whole family’s working together which we were, is to get together and release a statement and then you’re left, they’ve got something to go on.


Hmm.


… and, and you’re then left to, to grieve in private.


You said that the family liaison officer …


She …


… was involved with that…


… yeah, she, she was wonderful. She arranged for the press, the police press man to come out and chat with the family to get a background of Darrell and his life. He went off and typed it all up and then brought it back for us to read and, and see that we were happy. And then he released our words effectively brushed up into, to posh speak. And a photo. And it was, it was, the police support that helped us do that.

 

Lucy found it hard to make decisions while she was waiting for the inquest hearing. The hearing...

Lucy found it hard to make decisions while she was waiting for the inquest hearing. The hearing...

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

Because this is going to change the whole way you look at life in the future. And you’ll be trundling along and everything’ll be fine and then suddenly something will happen, whether you’re having a bad day or whatever it is, and you’ll be sobs of tears or …


Hmm.


… the loneliness will just hit from, from nowhere. And just as you think that you’ve got back on your feet again, wham, they’re going, you get a letter to say the inquest is going to be on such and such a date and then you’ve got to relive it all over again. I think it takes some doing. Once you think you’re over it, you, you’ve got like two, in a way, two bereavements, because you’ve got the first one which is normal to everyone who has a bereavement where you’ve got the funeral and and the burial or whatever. But then you’ve got to relive it all again for the inquest.


Hmm.


Where it’s, you, you just think you’re doing OK and then it’s all put you back to square one again. And then you start again. But I did find that it, decisions, I was putting decisions off. We were in a rented flat and I had to make the decision was I going to stay in the flat, was I going to buy somewhere to live or; I needed a holiday and friends were saying, “Oh come and stay with us.” So, …


Hmm.


... but I was putting everything off until the inquest. “Oh I can’t do anything because the inquest hasn’t happened.” “Oh I’m waiting until after the inquest.” And so every decision, I was using that as an excuse to put off making any decisions.

 

At the inquest Lucy learnt that her partner had been spotted around the railway line several...

At the inquest Lucy learnt that her partner had been spotted around the railway line several...

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

Would you like to say a little bit more about the inquest?

 

Well it was, the inquest itself wasn’t, wasn’t that difficult because it was just, followed an event. You went into this room and the jury were sworn in and the coroner explained what was going to happen. The witnesses were lined up, or sat down in, in order. The statements were read out and we had to just nod and acknowledge the statements, that they were true when they were being read out. There was then a summing up of all the information that had been given, and the jury then went off to make their recommendations and, and come up with a verdict. It was, when, when you say inquest it, it sounds like it’s quite a daunting thing. But it was really just a big room with one side had the jury on it, one side had the witnesses on it and at the end were supporting friends and family ,someone from the railway, and someone from the press. But we, at no time were we forced to speak.


It was amazing the information that came out. We think we just get on with our lives and nobody notices us.


Hm.


But through the inquest, they were able to trace Darrell’s movements for the, the week before he died. And there was sightings and of him down by the railway line and watching trains. And it was amazing how much information that people do find out about you, if they, if they need or if they’re asked. So in a way, it helped me to know that it wasn’t just an instant thing. He, he didn’t just go off and do this by accident. He had it planned.


Hmm. Would you, would you have preferred it to have had a conclusion that was, that it was an open verdict to an accident or …?


No, I wanted the suicide.


Can you explain why? Was it that important?


Because an open verdict meant that nobody’d decided, it was just a bit airy-fairy what had happened. Finding the note from Darrell saying that he’d come to the end and he couldn’t see another way out to me just meant that he’d planned this and that it had to be suicide. And for it to come out on the verdict from the inquest to be anything less that that would have meant that the letter that he’d left and, and the planning that he’d done, although it’s not how we, we want to see him end his life but it would like, everything would have been a lie. For me I wanted that end, to know, yeah, this is, this confirmed what we’ve all thought from what we’ve found out since, after he died with where he’d been down on the railway line and how he’d, how he’d lived his life right up to the end and the note that he’d left. It all added up to suicide and for it to be an accidental or open verdict, it’s not like it’s a badge of honour but it was like a, a proper fitting answer to the inquest. Well for me personally anyway.


That verdict, everything added up to that verdict …


Yes.


… from you point of view.


Yeah, I couldn’t see how it could be anything else.


No.


And it, because it came out of, as a suicide in, in the inquest it sort of like finished everything off of, rather than having another thought to, “Why’s it this? Why is it that?”


Hmm.


It sort of all matched up to that and I couldn’t really see there would be another option for it to be other than suicide.

 

Lucy looks at ‘Widowed-by-suicide’ every day, where she can share experiences without being...

Lucy looks at ‘Widowed-by-suicide’ every day, where she can share experiences without being...

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

But speaking to other people since, then I discovered this Widowed by Suicide support group, that’s online. And on there again, you’re able to share your experiences with others that have been bereaved by suicide. And you can share those experiences without being judged because there’s still the, the stigma about suicide. You can’t actually speak out and say, this has happened to me, has it happened to anyone, or this is my experience, or I’m going through this at the moment is this normal? Because there’s … it’s very difficult to find someone else who’s already been through it.

 

How often would you go online and look for those emails?

 

Oh daily.

 

Everyday?

 

Yeah, yeah.

 

And have you found that useful?

 

Yeah. I mean there’s a lot of people on there who are reading the emails, rather than posting.

 

Hm.

 

You’ll get some, so many people that will post and so many people that will read.

 

Hm.

 

But providing we’re able to help by showing our experiences are normal and that it is ok to feel angry. It is ok to feel upset.

 

Hm.

 

And to hit bumps in the road of, of recovery because everyone assumes that as soon as it’s over you’re going to be back to normal. And it’s a complete shock to people when they realise that they’ll hit a bump in the road for no apparent reason and go to pieces.


Hm.

 

Or if crying, sobbing and loneliness, to go online and say and type in, this is how I’m feeling, and to have like five or six people reply and say, “Yep that’s normal, don’t worry, you’re ok.”

 

Hmm.

 

And having people who have gone through the two year mark, the three year mark, the four year mark, we’re able to then help those who are newer bereaved…

 

Hm.

 

…in maybe only six, seven, eight weeks in who’ve got a hell of lot of recovery to come, …

 

Yes.

 

… who may need that support.

 


Hm. Is it all, all women or do you have men as well?

 

No we have men as well.

 

OK.

 

Yeah because they, their worries are the same.

 

Hm. Right.

 

If you’ve lost a life partner, it makes no difference in the long run whether you’re male or female.

 

Um.

 

Losing that, that, that person who’s been so solid in your life.

 

Um.

 

Will hit you whether you’re male or female. And it … they’ll have the same concerns. Darrell used to do all the cooking, cleaning, washing, ironing, everything in the house. I, I was the money earner and he was the househusband if you like.

 

Hm.

 

So to suddenly be faced with learning to or relearning the skill of cooking, ironing and washing, in effect some of the queries that the men are putting on …

 

Hm.

 

… and saying how do I do this? And I’ve got this to do. And how do I, how does a washing machine work and stuff like normal everyday stuff.

 

Hm.

 

<
Previous Page
Next Page