Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Young Male Suicide

Max Kurzweil - Despair (Creative Commons)
A year ago, give or take a few days, a friend committed suicide. He disappeared, leaving friends and family in panic for his safety. He loaded his backpack with concrete. He left a note in his car, and he drowned himself in one of the most beautiful places in the country. No one could believe it, because he was such a fun guy. His life was played out through photos of football matches in fancy dress, travels to the most far-flung places, love of good music, an arm flung round the shoulders of friends all around the world. There was not a bad word said, and that was before he died, not afterwards.

Afterwards his Facebook page, always the news-bringer, lit up with messages of love, sadness, disbelief. Friends from around the world were in shock. He had been a great traveller, an experiencer of life, someone who seemed to grab every opportunity with both hands. He had brought joy and love and great fun to people in almost every continent, and now they were reeling.

This was a single tragedy to many people. It happened, and people moved on. They felt sadness, deep sadness, but life goes on. But 'three young males take their own life on average every day across the [UK].' Three, every day. That's over a thousand a year. A thousand young men who take themselves out of life and leave a wrack behind them, a knock on effect of grief and loss and disbelief that ripples through thousands. Too many people have stories like this to tell of the man who they never thought would do something like that, but did.
There may be light at the end of the tunnel. (G Meyer, on Flickr)

The supreme tragedy of this to me is that many of these young men aren't suffering from severe long-term depression or chronic physical illnesses. They are afraid or pressured or at the end of their tether at that precise nadir of their lives. They are in a situation that could be turned around, somehow by someone, if only there were more awareness of how these things happen. They could carry on and overcome their problems, and look back on that time as one of the worst in their life, but one that they got through. One that they survived.

I don't know how to solve this issue. I wish I did. But surely spreading awareness must be a key step. Be aware of the men in your life – especially the young ones, the ones who seem to have it all but are going through a bad patch, the ones who put a brave face on it but perhaps spend each night in fear. Please, be aware. Don't be afraid to reach out. Surely it is far, far better to offer help to someone who doesn't need it than to miss someone who does? Offer them love, understanding. Help them solve their problems. Help them realise that they don't have to go it alone.

And if you are a young man in this situation, please, speak to someone. Anyone. A friend, a doctor, a stranger at a bus shelter. Anyone. Give yourself time. We don't want you to die.

Please, save a life.

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