Late November 1998. I was working as a solicitor in Glasgow city centre. As ever, it was ‘ way past ‘ home time. I remember having a trial at Dunfermline Sheriff Court the following morning and my boss asked me if I was ‘ready. ’ Being the bizarre OCD-driven man he was I found that a strange comment. But not really at the time.
In between ‘packing my bag’ for the trial and leaving he ‘shouted’ at me to come in. He asked me about a case and an ‘Options Hearing’ ( a procedural hearing) that was due to take place. He suggested a bizarre procedure which I told him was just ‘not right’. He told me ‘just do it’. I found it all very odd. But not really at the time
I remember saying to him I was away home and bid him good night. He stopped me to say I had done ‘ a great job’ and that I was ‘a good lad’. Crikey that really was it. Even at the time I really did think it was odd.
I never saw him again and was the last person to see him alive and speak to him.
He hanged himself in the stairwell of our office 2 hours later.
( Image courtesy of petoskeynews.com)
The following morning when I arrived at 0730 there were Police and Press and people everywhere. My colleagues were crying, the phones were in meltdown and if one memory in particular should last with me forever it is how sad I felt – not for the family of my boss, not for our clients, not my colleagues and certainly not myself – no I felt so sorry for him. So sorry for the fact that such was his obviously abject state of utter despair he felt the best option, the only option, was to end his own life. He left behind a thriving business, a partner and an 8 year old daughter.
As we ebb ever nearer the 20th anniversary of his death, how many times I have asked myself whether I could have seen something, whether I should have seen something – whether as a good colleague, and a friend, there was some kind of implied duty upon me to have noticed ‘all was not well’. Many a sleepless night has been spent on that one. But I suspect that is normal. What I am hoping is far from normal is having feelings that mean you are considering ending your own life.
(Image courtesy of ‘Street Kitchen Church)
It is a horrible word – it’s almost unpalatable – not unlike ‘cancer’ but, in this day and age it is a prolific killer and many are being lost to what we now all suspect are avoidable scenarios. The feelings of utter loneliness cannot be measured against anything – you have either experienced them or you haven’t.
For my sins, I do admit to being a fan of Coronation Street – only this week they were bold enough to enter the dark world of ‘suicide’ and run it in a storyline, involving a main character. Social media went into instant meltdown and it certainly was a powerful and difficult watch. However, I commend these people in ‘TV-land’ for bringing these hitherto uncomfortable subjects and issues into our living room on a Monday night.
If it makes people think, stop, talk, listen, whatever – if it saves people from feeling that it is something they must do – because, principally I believe that suicide is not at all about ‘wanting to die’ – then mission accomplished.
As far as my old boss and mentor is concerned, I am just so sorry he felt that there was no-one, absolutely no-one on planet earth that he felt he could turn to in his hour of need.
Let’s all look out for each other – the pain as a result of the possible effects of not doing so is hard to recover from, even after years and years and years.
Thanks for stopping by folks.
Have a good day.
Mr. O 😎