While I hold opinions on almost ever thing, I am at a loss when it comes to suicide. As my friend Regan says, it is a long term solution to a short term problem. The very act is horrible, horrible in the means often used to bring it about, but also horrible in the fact that someone descends to that point where that horror no longer matters.

I think of my son Ben who took his life by hanging a couple of years back. It was a very deliberate act that took some degree of preparation and planning even down to writing notes to the several people who mattered to him.

What I have great difficulty in understanding is how or why he had reached such a low point in life. We had spoke a few days before that and although I was thousands of miles away it was always like I was walking on eggshells, I thought he had a handle on most things, we were making plans, I was wrong. He, like many people in this position was afflicted by depression brought about how he lived, a chemical imbalance in his brain that short circuits and blocks of all avenues of escape from what troubled him.

I am a a loss in what I could have done or for that matter, what anyone could have done that might have changed his mind once it was made up. But Ben is like thousands of other, mostly young people who lose faith in their existence, Is it the fact they are driven to despair by their failure to keep up with some false ideal of success? Is it that the pressure to have all the material things is too much for them? Are they being driven to despair in their relationships where they feel they have lost some sense of control that goes with being the person they are?

There is nothing that can be done to bring Ben back so I have to look at what I might do, what we might do to prevent someone else that we love from taking the same path. It is one thing to ask “Are you ok?” but if they are not going to open up, what else can we do.

We live in a world where, if you take any notice, we are being dumbed down by vacuous media, in advertising, magazines and television, even the radio, who promote financial success as the ideal ambitions in life when in fact we can live an equally happy life living without all the trappings.

If we are going to find any solution, if I have any opinion at all, it is that we have to address the causes. We have to take issue with the way lives are being shaped, how they are being moulded by the never ending inane pursuit of financial superiority. The fact is, most people will never get there, they will always struggle to find enough to update what they own.

Depending on who reads this, if your are finding life difficult, there are solutions that don’t need your permanent departure from this life. Please contact someone who cares and if they are not handy, contact one of the Lifelines that now exist. Do it for the people who might not show it but do in fact love you. My son Ben had a hundred people at his funeral and they all loved him. My former colleague Pete also had hundreds at his funeral and every one of them wishes he was still there among them. Leaving us does not solve the problems you face, it just magnifies them in heartache for the people you leave behind.

Back to the “Are you ok?” position, we all need to look around us, to our friends and family and take a good look at them, not from some patronizing or condescending position but one of real concern. What can we do to help them solve whatever it is that troubles them. What can we do at a more global level, how can we change the emphasis that material success is not the answer. It has to be worth a shot.

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