An open letter to NZ men considering suicide

This is what will happen after you die.

Peoples’ hearts will shoot to their throats when they hear you’re missing. So out of character, they say. Some have a niggly thought – deep down, they know.

The police visit your family’s home. Your partner will open the door, hoping to hear good news. She’s so sure she will hear good news. When the two young constables start talking, she will start to feel as if she’s floating in water. Every word they say will become distorted and their faces contorted. She keeps it together, closing the door gently behind them. She becomes good at this in coming months.

She will look down at the palms of her hands and jagged little moon impressions of her nails will draw blood. She will drop to her knees on the tiled goddamn floor and scream and sob and scream and look up into the sky and wonder why in the hell you wanted to do this to her. Everyone is a little selfish in grief sometimes.

Your children will come running.

They too will scream. Mummy is behaving strangely. But their real tears will come late at night when they are all alone, even up until their 20s. Because it’s that day that their memories of you stopped – a firm date chiselled into stone and imprinted in their minds forever.

They are only little now. But they grow up until beautiful teenagers, then adults who have children of their own. This you never see. And every birthday, every celebration for them doubles as a painful reminder that you are no longer here. They will develop personality traits and wonder if they came from you. They will have your nose, your lips, or your laugh. People will always point this out.

Your wife will then have to make the hardest phone call of her life – to your parents. An iPhone is hard to use when it is slippery with tears. Through muffled wails she will tell your mother, who screams out for your father.

This will almost hit them harder – you weren’t supposed to die before them. They will embrace tighter than they have in 25 years. But this is a different form of closeness – a grip of sheer terror. Your mum’s knuckles go white and big, juicy, mucusy tears collect on her nose before dropping down your father’s shoulder. He never cries – but he is now. He pictures you with your gapped tooth smile and mop of blonde hair as a three-year-old, pushing your dump truck, cackling with laughter. How can a world be so cruel that you wish to leave it, he screams inside. Then he pictures your son, now the same age, and his face drops and so does his heart.

He will break away from your mother to go and boil the jug. This will be the beginning of a decade of odd and detached behaviour before he dies from a heart attack. But your mum thinks he died that day – that this cruel world killed him too. He loved you with all his heart, but he never got to tell you. He wished more than anything he could have, you know. He sobs in the bathroom in the middle of the night so no one can see his pain. So he thinks, but it’s written in the wrinkles and resignation and the anguish all over his face.

Your mum now calls your sister, who she will lean on for the next 35 years before she dies too, but naturally and peacefully. When she’s ready to go, she is happy she gets to see you. It’s her only solace in death. For seven days straight after your funeral, she stays in bed, crying only when your father leaves the room, because he’s acting like he’s not bothered. Like everything is normal, for God’s sake.

Your sister is pregnant with her third child. Your mother has to almost spit out the news. It’s a horrible taste in her mouth. Your sister cups her stomach and a single tear spouts from her left eye before they all come. You spoke to her just this morning and you asked her if she’d settled on a name. You were going to bring the family over for Christmas lunch. You were the kid’s most favourite uncle. Oh god, the kids. Oh god, she whimpers. She tells your mother she’ll be over shortly. Then she calls your brother-in-law.

He’s at work. In shock, he drops his phone off the side of the building by accident. He is suffering at the moment too.

Your friends will sit for a moment in disbelief and shock. The tears will come – often at the funeral, when reality hits like running full pace into a brick wall. You are gone, bro. There will never be another Lion Red at your local, a fish over the Mokohinaus or a lazy chin wag before a surf out west.

You yourself will never feel the cool salt water over your skin, the silence as you press the nose of your board through the guts of a five-foot wave, or the crisp taste of a craft beer paired with the tenderness of fresh snapper straight out of the big blue.

Your colleagues, who you might not think even care about you, will cry themselves to sleep. They were just your workmates, yes, but you were the highlight of their work day, you know. The life of the party. The cheerful guy in the office.

Your high school sweetheart will lay in bed awake all night.

Your old swimming coach.

Your primary school best friend.

The guy you hung out with at uni after MGMT101 15 years ago.

Even the girl who doesn’t really know you but who’s best friend committed suicide last year will cry for you. She will cry for every suicide for the rest of her life, like an open wound in salt water, never able to heal.

If you could see your funeral, hundreds of people – or maybe it’s just 10, but still, the pain’s no less –  lining up shuddering with tears, maybe you would have changed your mind.

Because here’s the thing – this is not a message to make you feel guilty. This is a message to say one thing: You are loved. You are loved. You are loved.

Even if now you cannot love yourself, the love from others can pull you through this pain, I promise. Even if you don’t have many friends. There will always be one person’s heart that is broken by your passing.


Bro. You are loved. You are loved. You are loved.

Repeat after me: I am loved. I am loved. I am loved.


LIFELINE: 0800 543 354

SAMARITANS: 0800 726 666

YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633 or text 234

1737 NEED TO TALK? Call or text 1737


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Hannah Norton is a former journalist and editor who now works in public relations. In her spare time, she also likes to write – and this website is a collation of her “work that’s not work” – from blog posts to short stories. She is based in New Zealand.

Categories Uncategorized18 Comments

18 thoughts on “An open letter to NZ men considering suicide”

  1. I might join them if no one will employ me. “You will be bored!” they say. Well, no, not really, I have things to keep me from being bored besides any job, and I do damn fine job when I am employed, although some managers are not able to recognise that fact until after I have left.
    BTW, “people” is the plural of person, so your apostrophe is in the wrong place. It’s “People’s hearts…”


  2. sad, but so true and not just for young men…older men…elderly my dad who at 87 took his own life.
    Even though he must have known we loved him….through years of hugs and words and support……illness and the loss of control of what might happen in the future because of that illness must have played on his mind.
    He took back control by managing his death….not a victim of illness any longer.
    His sudden death ripped through our family like a tidal wave..especially for my son – who was close to his Grandpa and would often let Dad share his memories and stories of WWII, and what life was like growing up in 1920’s Australia.
    Miss you.
    4 years ago today.
    Love you Dad. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your comment is very powerful , as a sixty year old life doesn’t feel so worthwhile , so what with your dad at 82 suffering ill health he must have been going through so much pain

      Big hugs for your son , big hugs


  3. Great piece of work but I would have to agree with one of the other comments and say that yes they know that they’re loved, they just don’t know how to reach out to their families, they don’t believe in their self worth and they don’t know how to describe what they’re going through. This is what we have to teach them 👌👌👌👌


  4. Disgusting. Absolutely disgusting. You’re making it seem like it is their fault that they are going to commit suicide. Once a person commits suicide, they don’t have to worry about how others feel. Sometimes, it’s half the reason that they commit – because they are sick of how people are making them feel. This is coming from a person who has attempted suicide before and suffers from multiple mental illnesses. If I were suicidal and read this, I would still commit suicidal and this would make me feel worse than before. Depression is a very lonely place and consumes you emotionally and sometimes even physically. To prevent someone from suicide you need to do more than just tell them that you care. You need to show them that you do because otherwise they won’t believe you. Even if it’s something small like a compliment or a piece of chocolate, it will brighten up their day. Don’t tell them things will get better, because to them, thats the biggest lie in the world.
    I could go on and on about how to make depressed people feel better in their daily lives, but this is a small start. I’m sorry if this upset anyone, but this is only a small portion of what goes inside the mind of someone with depression


    1. couldn’t agree more.
      I personally don’t have any mental illness but i sure as hell know saying “it’ll get better” doesn’t do shit.

      they know that, sometimes it gets better, it does when you get help (usually)

      life is hard and i think it’s important to keep TRYING you’ll have those ups and down it’s inevitable i’d rather someone be real with me, than sugarcoat some bullshit.

      “Because here’s the thing – this is not a message to make you feel guilty”
      After how many words making you feel guilty? how is that living? now if you don’t commit suicide you’ll have this overwhelming guilt which will drive you over the edge anyway?

      It’s like telling a smoker, smoking is bad.. yeah obviously. Won’t stop them???

      i understand this is from a wholesome place and you’re only trying to help.
      Which i’m sure this will help as it’s spreading a message but can also be a double edged sword.


    2. As a mother who lost a child this year to suicide a lot of it resonates, the impact is horrendous. However the difference in my case is my daughter talked all the time. She knew she was loved, except by the one person she wanted above all else. So she was hurt and angry. She took her life. So I can only resonate with some of this. Not all.


  5. Hi guys, appreciate feedback but let’s ensure it’s compassionate as well. There’s a real person at the end of this of this blog. I’m currently working on a response story to this taking into account these views. Thanks


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