Are you old enough to remember MASH, not just the TV series but the movie both of which were set in the Korean war and centred around a US army mobile medical group? If not I will just add this - in the movie there is a guy who wants to commit suicide. His colleagues help him - he believes they are helping him to die as he drifts off into eternity but in truth they are fixing him up with a dazzling female military nurse who gives him a reason to live.
The poignant song that plays throughout is Suicide is Painless. Well folks as we all know it is not.
Days ago Robin Williams died. He is believed to have committed suicide by hanging himself. The details have been chewed over online and some have called Mr Williams a coward and more. However, suicide is not painless nor as some believe a coward's way out, not in my opinion.
When this writer was 14 her beloved father attempted suicide. He had done similar when she was aged about two but that had been more like a cry for help. When she was 14 it was a real suicide attempt and very frightening.
The family suffered in many ways, including financially. Dad needed an extended period of time away from work and sick pay was paltry. When we first visited him in the local, Victorian built, mental hospital he was like a caged tiger. He was in such mental pain it was torturous to watch. But his medical team encouraged the whole family to visit as it would help Dad return to reality.
It was however not necessarily good for the health of my mother and myself.
As a potential suicide threat Dad was kept in a locked ward at night which added to our worries. He smoked as did other patients. Cigarettes were not allowed at night but did all patients obey the rules?
These days there are few such mental hospitals. In some ways that is good but care in the community has let too many patients down.
One family relative would not visit Dad even when he returned home. For this god-fearing man he was 'too ashamed' of what Dad had done to visit. Perhaps that was the beginning of the end of my Christian faith.
Dad was a good Christian and firm believer. He lived a Christian live, never swore, attended church, brought myself and my brother up as Christians and would help any person.
It is worth noting that some of those condemning Robin Williams as a coward and more are so-called Christians - their God if he exists may disagree with their self-styled description.
Assuming there is a god - Did the fact that Dad tried to kill himself make him a failure in God's eyes? Dad was after all created in God's image and given his personality and propensity toward depression?
However in Dad's case there were at least one or two reasons why he suffered from suicidal depression.
When his Mum died, he aged three or four, he went to live with two maiden aunts. His dad was in the Merchant Navy and often away from home. A couple of years on the sailor was home to marry but dad stayed on with the aunts. Early trauma for a child is known to lead to mental health problems.
These maiden aunts were goodness personified in many ways but strict, Victorian, god pushing and out of touch.
Move on a few more years and Grandad died when his vessel was sunk. Dad's new step family were not known to him and we have no idea who they are or were.
As WWII arrived Dad tried to join the navy following in his father's footsteps but the aunts but their feet firmly down and he ended up in the infantry. He served more than seven years in Burma and 'out East' and for him it was not a glorius war. He was demobbed with an exemplary war record, married, had two kids but health issues began to dog him; mental health issues.
These days it would be recognized that he was suffering from PTSD but back then he was contstantly told to pull himself together.
He worked hard for the family but the mental health problems would go for sometimes a few years but always return.
So would you say my Dad was a coward for trying to end it all?