He was the life and soul of our friendship group and, he committed suicide
To this day I can still remember the phone call that I received on the 16h May 2001.
As I have got older and experienced similar situations amongst family, friends and trying to manage situations in my day job I feel it’s important to talk about this.
On the 16th May 2001 I received a phone call when I was about to go and celebrate my friend’s birthday. The call went ‘He’s dead, he jumped off the roof of the car park’, I asked ‘what are you joking, really why?’
C had been the funniest and coolest guy to be around; to everyone he was the life and soul of our friendship group. I saw him on the Saturday and he was stressed out because he had crashed his mum’s car on the way home from dropping me off. His mum was in America at the time and she left instructions for him to not drive her car. He was agitated and said that when his brother had crashed his car everything had gone down hill for him.
I went to see him on the Saturday and we spoke about how he should tell his mum what had happened. They say hindsight is a great thing and if I knew what I know now I would have asked him honestly how he was feeling in our chat instead of planning what we were going to do in the summer holiday (Wimbledon and Ascot were on the list of events to attend).
If I had asked him, whilst we were listening to the Jaheim’s album Ghetto Love, how he was doing, maybe, I would have been able to sign post him to get the support he needed instead. I left C, he cleaned his mum’s house for her from head to toe, left one suit in the wardrobe, wrote a list of what to put in his coffin and left messages for us all. The message I received was to tell me it was not my fault.
To this day I think about him daily, it gets easier bearing with this but damn, as I have got older I have learnt to be honest and speak out. As a man statistics show that males from the age of 14 upwards talk less. As a father, a male, a brother and husband we need to be an advocate and a role model for speaking up about how we really feel, and really listening to others. The banter we pass for speaking about our feelings or telling our sons to toughen up is rubbish. It’s not okay for them to not feel okay, it’s okay for them to speak about their feelings. To many men, speaking about your feelings is seen as soft – that’s rubbish.
Speaking about your feelings is important – getting things of your chest instead of bottling them up is important. The saying a problem shared is a problem halved is true.
Encourage mates and your children to speak about their feelings, let them know that it’s okay to cry and show emotion.
Don’t be afraid to ask them if they feel suicidal. Practice saying that word and asking that question because one day you might save a life. If they say yes, ask them whether they have got a plan on what they are going to do. If they have a clear plan call the emergency services or sit with them until additional support arrives.
If you need advice on helping others who may be suicidal or want some good free online training visit www.zerosuicidealliance.org.uk or if you’re worried about children or teens in your life check out www.papyrus.co.uk.
Written by Jay Smith