Thursday, 16 December 2010

Somebody should have told him

As we find today that the Rushden and Diamonds goalkeeper took his own life, you might well be shocked at my turning to Alan Partridge for wisdom. Stick with me...

Alan: So, who’s your favourite singer, then?

Ben: Oh, anything, really, you know. Frank Sinatra, Kurt Cobain.

Alan: Who’s he?

Ben: Nirvana. Blew his head off with a gun?

Alan: Why?

Ben: He was depressed.

Alan: Why, were they not very good?

Ben: No, they were great.

Alan: Oh. Someone should’ve told him!

Suicide and it's 'causes' is a well documented subject, indeed in my own industry we have some pretty derailed statistics.

It's something I've been exposed to, at work, both before and after the event - and something that has touched my own extended family.

I want to consider the three places where, to my mind, the cause lies.

The first is the disposition of the person concerned, and their ability to cope with a given situation - often related to the other two factors.

The second is those responsible for that stimulus which has driven the victim to this point. That's one for another day.

The third, most contentious, and most interesting to me, is society at large, and societal attitudes towards people who are suffering or struggling.

How often do we ask of another "How are you" quite without expecting or seeking a reply other than a short, positive one?

How often do we fail to seize an opportunity to speak affirming words to someone's face?

Years ago, I was talking to my workplace chaplain. I mentioned a particular colleague whom I respected greatly.

"Have you ever told him?" the chaplain enquired. I had to concede that I hadn't. It struck me as a profound challenge to ensure that he didn't go to his grave never hearing my appreciation.

Of all the kindly words that will be spoken of Dale Roberts in the next few days, I am left to wonder how many of those things were said to him by those people when he was still alive, and how often those people offered him the opportunity to talk freely about how he really was.

The fact is, suicide is the decision of a person, however cursory, flawed or damaged their reasoning, that no longer being around is the best option.

Whilst my industry throws money at stopping people throwing themselves under trains, we could all make a difference, for free - by throwing caution to the wind, overcoming our own inhibitions and vulnerability and reminding each other we are valued.

Go and find someone you appreciate and tell them so. They might need to hear it more than you know.

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