When private troubles become public concern
Watching the face of Michael Owen on Match of the Day the other night, reading quotes from Robbie Savage and others who had been close to Gary Speed, it seemed a sadly typical scenario was playing out.
Sense of disbelief
The big difference, though, is that it’s being played out in the full glare of the media. The sense of bewilderment and shock, of disbelief that a life could be lost in such a brutal way when “he had so much going for him” sadly resonates with so many tragic tales of suicide among young men in Ireland.
From what we have heard from the many colleagues that were speaking with Gary Speed in the days shortly before his death it would seem that everything was ok.
Many “experts” would have us believe that suicide warning signs are always there. That we should be watching out for them. But how can we? Life is so unpredictable and so is suicide.
Sure, maybe there are always warning signs. But, so often the distress felt by people thinking about suicide is so deeply internalised that none of us ever get to glimpse it until it’s too late. We can learn about those signs but we also need to recognise our limitations too.
When someone so well known takes their own life, private tragedy is transformed into public concern. This becomes a catalyst for another national conversation on suicide. Here is an opportunity for us to recognise the vulnerability in each and every one of us.
Time to reflect
It’s also an opportunity to become more aware of the need to look after each other, be good to each other and be there for each other. Of course it’s also a time to reflect on the terribly sad reality of a young widow and two young children who have lost their father. When responding or reacting to a tragedy like this, loved ones left behind are the people that matter the most.
Let’s not dwell or speculate on the many possible reasons as to “why?”. Instead, let’s acknowledge our shared humanity and environment in which so many of us experience terrible alienation. We can only move forward in that spirit of sharing and the sense of togetherness it can bring.