A few weeks ago, my train journey home was severely disrupted due to a fatality - a suicide - on the tracks near Oxenholme. According to the train manager, this is something that happens every couple of weeks... something in danger of becoming a statistic, a cause of 'delay repay' claims (I didn't, it felt wrong), rather than a human tragedy for those who knew and loved the person whose life was so bitterly unbearable that death seemed kinder, and for the driver, witnesses and emergency services who cannot unsee what they have seen.
Today is World Suicide Prevention Day and I found my self recalling that, for some unknown reason, the very last time I saw her, my Mum recalled and reminded me of an event that occurred when I was about 17.
My Dad was in hospital and, during visiting time, I nipped down to the shop to pick up a newspaper for him. There was a young man in the bed opposite with no visitors. On a whim, I bought him a newspaper too, and took it to him before giving my Dad his. I thought no more about it, indeed, until my Mum recalled it, I had forgotten it ever happened, and had to dig deep to recover the memory.
What she told me shocked me. Seemingly the next visiting time, when she was there on her own, the young man had called her over and asked why her daughter would do such a thing (I think she said something about me being a Christian) because he felt so worthless. In fact, he had been contemplating suicide as soon as he could leave the hospital, but now, he felt there might be hope.
Almost forty years later, I learned this. And I really hope that he is now a man in his fifties or sixties whose life has been more good than bad. I hope that in his lowest and saddest moments other people were able to show him that he mattered - that he matters. Perhaps he's been able to do the same for others.
Today I am reminded that the way I speak to, or act towards, others, matters, not necessarily in such a significant way, but in some way. Kind words, kind acts... these I will seek to demonstrate.