13 Tommy talks about the death of his son Paul, who had taken his own life by drowning nearly three years previously at the age of 25. About 18 months before his death, Paul, who had been on drugs, quite suddenly became very agitated. He pleaded that he could not be left like that and asked that his parents help him to die. Tommy tried doctors, health centres and hospitals but it was over a year before he could get Paul admitted to a mental hospital. After two days, Paul left, cut his wrists and jumped in front of a car. After discharge from a general hospital he returned to the mental hospital but two days later his father was instructed to take him home, otherwise the mental hospital would find a hostel place for him. The hospital stated that Paul was not suicidal. Tommy succeeded in getting Paul into a day centre where Paul responded very positively to Jimmy, an unqualified worker. Jimmy had time off and did not return on the expected date. Paul took his own life by drowning. It took eight weeks for the police to find the body.
The worst time for Tommy and his wife was waiting for Paul’s body to be found. His wife wanted to die. Tommy froze his emotions. Fifteen months later at a funeral service for the dead in the parish, Tommy broke down and was in bed three days crying all the time. Nearly three years on, the sparkle has gone out of his life, he gets by but will never be as happy as he used to be. He is always tired, fidgets all the time and sleeps badly. He thought he was made of stronger stuff but now he is doubtful about this. He remains very angry with the psychiatrist who refused to help Paul and has no doubt in his own mind that Paul would still be alive he had been given the help he so desperately sought.
Part of the series The Suicide of Young People and its Impact on the Family.
N.B. Craic (pronounced “crack”) is a social event, a party or enjoyable gathering of some sort. Gutties are gym shoes or trainers.