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Gary Speed commits suicide – should we be asking why?

The untimely death of footballer and Wales football manager  Gary Speed has made me reflect over the last few days. How much do we really know about those around us? What is it like to face such a tragedy in a family?

I didn’t know Gary Speed, though I knew of him. I’m not a huge football fan and I’ve absolutely no idea why he took his own life. I suspect we’ll find out in the fullness of time as there will be an inquest. But we may never truly know.

However I do know a bit about depression (if that even had anything to do with his passing) and I also know, all too well about the impact of losing someone so unexpectedly and far too young.

So for me, this whole situation is about his family – his wife and children, his parents, brothers, sisters  etc – my heart goes out to them. The journey they’ve been forced to take is long, it’s painful and it eats at the very soul. 

Earlier this year, my brother in law, aged 49, went to the gym, collapsed and died. I’ve written about this before on this site and on FB. Even now, I cannot believe that it’s true. Seeing it in black and white doesn’t make it easier to bear. I also know that the impact it has had on my family will never diminish. We are all deeply wounded.

 

For my sister, his widow, he went to do an activity that he’d always done and enjoyed and which, it turns out, he should not have taken part in. She didn’t make it to the hospital in time to say goodbye. The next time she saw him, he was dead. 

For his three children, their daddy went out and never came home. It’s a reality that they cannot understand, although they can speak the words, they cannot make sense of it.

 

How much worse must that be if someone has chosen to die? 

 

Gary Speed's family face an uphill struggle to deal with his death...

On the face of it, this man seemed to have everything – talent, success, money, happy family.

 

But life has taught me that such things may hide many cracks. Being successful in life, or talented, does not give a monopoly on happiness. Depression or suicidal impulses can overtake anyone whatever their personal situation. They might know that they’ve got things good – but their mental health might be dreadful. Death might be an escape from turmoil in their own minds. Something they just can’t rid themselves of, no matter how hard they try.

I’ve made films about mental health issues and you soon come to realise that the state of someone’s mental health can be separate from their seeming success in life. Equally being successful, having confidence, being respected can help someone’s mental health if they come from a low place. But there are no guarantees when your mental health is fragile.

So for me – it’s not so much about the why? It’s about reaching out to his family and saying ‘I don’t know you, you don’t know me but I do know something of what you are enduring and it matters…’

 

 

 

 

Motorhome dilemma – what would you do? pr opportunity?

MOTORHOME DILEMMA – WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

THE FOLLOWING STORY IS TRUE…

line of caravans parked up

Dilemma - motorhome or no motorhome? (thanks for pic humblebee)

You are a journalist working on a national television show which often deals with consumer issues.

You speak to a police officer who’s having problems with a company which supplies motorhomes. He’s paid out more than £40,000 on a wonderful vehicle but it turns out to be a complete lemon. The money took his life savings – a silver wedding anniversary present for him and his wife. It was a dream purchase.
It leaks, it’s mouldy, it’s not fit for purpose and he doesn’t want it in this state. But the company refuses to resolve the issue, insisting that repeated repairs are the answer.
He’s at the end of his tether, it’s causing arguments with his wife and he just wants his money back or a brand new vehicle. The company won’t budge – court action looms.

 

As a last resort, he contacts you – a journalist.


You listen, ask him to send in copies of paperwork and photographs to verify his story. It all checks out.

 

But you know from experience that chasing this could take weeks of writing, fending off lawyers, talking to lawyers, and that’s before you’ve filmed a shot. All of that takes money and time.

 

So you want a firm commitment that if you take up this case – he’ll agree to be interviewed and filmed.

He says to you ‘I’m my own man, no one will force me to do anything’.

 

You proceed and take up the case. Letters, e-mails fly around. Many talks take place with the retailer of the motorhome. It tries to fob you off with talk of it being the manufacturer’s problem. But you know that under the Sale of Goods Act, the responsibility lies with the retailer.
Eventually, some weeks later, the company contacts you to say the matter is resolved, they’ve backed down. But you need to contact the police officer, your interviewee. You know that this is a  situation that would not have come about had it not been for your intervention.

 

But you feel that there’s something to this deal that you won’t like – what could it be?

 

The police officer doesn’t contact you. You leave several messages but none are returned. Eventually, you catch him by surprise and he’s forced to talk to you. He confirms what you suspect – he’s been told he’ll get his new motorhome if he calls you off and refuses to cooperate.

So what happens next?

Consider this – what would you do if you were that journalist? what about that police officer? What about that motorhome company? How would you try to deal with this dilemma? Do let me know…..if I get enough comments – I’ll let you know what actually happened next week!

 

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