We all have our ups and downs. Most days are better than others but when things are going wrong most of us find a chink of light in the despair that is sufficient to allow us to pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off, or perhaps talk to someone and gain a different perspective and then tentatively broach the dawn of a new day with the feeling that it can get better.
But for a friend of mine, that didn’t happen. At the age of 24 James couldn’t see the chink of light; he couldn’t find a way to reach out and ask for help; he couldn’t find the strength to dust himself off and carry on. To the shock and horror of all that knew him, James took his own life.
The benefit of hindsight, albeit painful, will undoubtedly allow those closest to him, if they don’t already know, to better understand why he committed suicide. But not all the questions will be answered, particularly the one which instigates a basic human instinct to reach out and help someone in distress i.e. “Why didn’t I notice what was going on?” But some people hide the symptoms of depression and/or mental illness very well; it would be too simplistic to suggest that by scouring the past we will learn enough to realise that we probably couldn’t have done anything about the situation or be able to prevent the same thing happening again elsewhere.
Personally, James’ death has given me a reality check – a jolt that has made me refocus; to appreciate the good in people and to tell them in real time. Sadly I didn’t tell James that he was a brilliantly creative, erudite young man. That I admired him for standing up for the things he believed in; nor did I thank him for giving his time without asking for anything in return. I hope that his family and friends find strength in the wealth of good memories he has undoubtedly left to help them deal with his loss.
James left us with a quote from Winnie the Pooh “….there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think. But the most important things is, even if we’re apart…I’ll always be with you.”
Rest in peace James.
James C Andrews wrote about the London Riots for the magazines. You can read the article London Riots by JC Andrew