This has been a year where the loss of folk before their time has been all too common and public. I also this morning managed to finally do the Darkness into Light walk here in Galway.
I lost a good friend last December, and only heard about it from another friend in Serbia in January. As I listened to the Dido song I thought of him, his wife and family. The signs were there for many many years, and there was very little could be done in his situation, similar to Lucy Stack, about whom I had written the verse “Smiles Can Hide a Million Tears”.
While doing the walk today my mind was on this as I listened to snippets of conversation from the jovial crowd among whom I was walking. I was in somber mood myself and not very chatty. Its a fundraiser for Pieta House, an organisation similar to the Samaritans, and when posting about going to it in the small hours of this morning I mused that its ironic we campaign to get folk to open up about their feelings to avert suicide with great government support for the campaigns, only for the policies of the very same governments causing a lot of suicides.
We have lost a few campaigners against austerity, and while reflecting on them I realized how horrific the throwaway remark Bertie Ahern made about naysayers as he called folk who warned of the impending crash when he said “Why dont you go and commit suicide” – too many have done that since. One such young man was Trevor Murtagh, on whose death I said Enda had one less enemy, the cruelest twist on that musing is that as we remember the death of Trevor and others like him Enda Kenny was re-elected Taoiseach.
How many more names will be added to the list of 500 plus every year that we lose to suicide, twice the rate we lose in car accidents?
The river patrol in Galway is up and running and have averted quite a number of attempted suicides, but they cannot get to help everybody, and the sea takes its toll every year, what I mused on in “Catch of the Merrow”. As I walk down from work to my home I pass a missing person poster for a young girl who was found in Merlin Woods, for whom I wrote the verse “Birds Sing“, and its only as I write this that I realise what a collection of verse I have on this macabre topic, showing how common it is, for of all the cases there is, its rare I write on it.
As the dawn breaks as we head west back to the Leisureland complex the sun rises at our backs, and I veer off to get my breakfast and head on in to do a twelve hour shift, I thought of the significance the title of the walk has to lodge members, and then thought of Victor, and member of 321 in Tullamore for a long time.
They say there is an age when you find yourself all too often going to funerals and you know you have reached middle age. I noticed this a few years back, life was becoming a series of funerals, but it was the generation ahead of me moving on to make room for me and mine to be the grouchy auld feckers for now it is our day such a role to fill… but its doubly tragic when the funerals come from suicide, and triply when you miss them…
But such is life. All we can do it be a shoulder to cry on for those who need it, and try to prevent the preventable ones such as those which have come about as a result of the property crash. If we refounded the Land Commission that was only wound up in the 1970’s and took the distressed mortgages off the banks the way they did off the landlords and sell them on new terms even over two generation to the homeowners that would save the homesteads, stabilise the banks books and make the government a profit, and possibly is the only way they will get the bail out money back from the banks. While Bank of Ireland paid back in full and AIB is making shapes about repaying, the Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Permanent money is gone for good. No such breaks for farmers who worked hard to make a go of their family holdings. A farm is not an enterprise like a pub or factory, its a homestead that exists to make a living from, built for the next generation, its a home, its a homestead.
But capitalism does not care. And the tragedy as we campaign against suicide is to know that a good 10% or more are 100% preventable by a government who cries crocodile tears. In memory of those, and those for whom little could be done, I walked this morning…