I was really moved this week by the remembrance shown to the passing of Gary Speed. I think I can speak on behalf of every Newcastle fan and for the other clubs Gary played for, to state he was a legend. He came across brilliantly on camera and seemed like a genuinely nice bloke off it too. Dan Walker from the BBC at the time paid a lovely tribute to Gary. Showing us some great clips of Speed chatting to a man working on football focus. Dan commented that Gary always had so much time for other people and showed genuine interest in their lives. A special bloke. I watched the tribute from Dan and also the very emotional appearance from his friend Bryn Law live on Sky Sports the day after it had happened. I found it really tough to watch. Both Dan and Bryn both said there was nothing to suggest that Gary had felt suicidal or was close to taking his own life. I think the point they were making was that there can be no signs at all that someone is struggling. This is why it is so important to check in with your friends, family, partners and colleagues or anyone else to see how they are doing.

It made me think about how my family and friends would have been left feeling if I had taken my own life last year. Suicide is often labelled (wrongly in my opinion) as a selfish act. I can understand why people would think that, but I wholeheartedly disagree. You are leaving loved ones behind who will mourn your passing and that of course is terrible. But Gary and the many others who have taken the tough decision to end their lives felt that there was no other way back. I thought I had reached that point last year on that night when I did not want to return home. I had arrived at a point of no return in my head. But something stopped me, something brought me back and that was still a small desire to live. I wish that had been the case for Gary and the many others who have tragically taken their own lives. In 2021, there were 5583 (ONS records) suicides in England Wales. That’s a shocking number. But why is it happening?

Stephen Buckley from the Charity Mind said this, “Even one suicide is one too many, and men are still accounting for three in four deaths. The causes of suicide are many, complex, and vary from one person to another” Since the pandemic there has been a sharp increase in the number of suicides amongst young women. Young people were heavily affected by COVID 19 in terms of isolation and feeling very lonely when cut off from friends and peers. I discussed the issues of social media in a previous blog (see volume twenty-two) and this plays a large part in failing mental health in the younger generation. Seeing images of unrealistic body types or influencers living ‘glamorous’ lives, in amongst the vile abuse users receive online it can be a real cess pit.

We are in a cost-of-living crisis in Britain. Energy prices are soaring, food prices and every day items are increasing in cost. We are being forced to choose between heating homes and being able to buy groceries. In a country supposedly as “great” as this one, how can this be happening? Strikes are taking place across the country and rightly so in my opinion. I didn’t want to turn this into a political statement, but it is disgusting the treatment of public sector workers matched equally in the private sector not only on pay but also the conditions of their employment. The toll this is having on the mental health of the nation is damning of a government who literally don’t care at all, and an opposition who I don’t feel would be much better should they get elected anytime soon. Buckley goes onto say, “Our new PM must prioritise committing to investing in mental health services, including prevention and early intervention right up to crisis services for people at their most unwell,” I would like to think this would happen but realistically I don’t see it. Morale is at an all time low. I see this when I volunteer on a Thursday night in Byker. There are countless numbers of rough sleepers as well as others experiencing drug and alcohol addiction issues but the help and needed support for these guys is severely lacking. We wonder why suicide rates have gone up, this fundamentally is one of the answers. Families and individuals are forced to the brink and unless major reform takes place we will only see those suicide numbers increase year after year.

If you or anyone you know has been experiencing any thoughts like this then please know that I am always available to talk to or message any time. My contact details are at the end of this blog or you can message me through my social media to arrange any form of contact.

Look in on your friends, take that bit of time to check on your brother, sister, mother, uncle or any family member. Speak to your colleagues. Work can be a stressful environment. Sometimes a chat can make such a difference to someone’s day and outlook on the world. Keep talking guys, it really is so important.

Thanks for reading.

Nick Denton

Sobering Thoughts