Today has been a bit of a shocker.
It started off all right. My little one was due to go to a birthday party, which meant I was due for a couple of hours free, to have a good old gossip with my friend Sarah. And I was really looking forward to it.
The party started, the kids were off into their own social whirl and Sarah and I snuck off to have a coffee and a chat with some of the other mothers.
But Sarah was clearly not her usual self. She whispered quietly in my ear that she wanted to have a private chat.
So we found a quiet corner and she dropped the bombshell.
The day before, she had been due to have lunch with a girlfriend. They were going to meet on the top floor restaurant of a hotel. By the time they arrived, after various delays, it was mid afternoon. The restaurant was almost empty, except for them and a man at a nearby table, sitting on his own, drinking a beer.
They got chatting, ordered wine and food and then, finally, realised that they had been waiting for an inordinate amount of time. They tried to get the waiter’s attention, but he seemed to be not just distracted, but in an almost frenzied state, unable to take notice of anything they said. At that point, they realised that the security man was outside on the balcony, talking to the man who had previously been sitting having a beer.
And that’s when he did it. Whilst they sat there watching, this attractive well dressed man, roughly in his mid-forties, jumped. Only a split second later, my friend heard the thud, as he landed on the pavement 12 stories below. He died instantly. For his sake, I’m glad it was instantaneous.
For my friend however, the horror of what she witnessed is only beginning to surface.
She spent over an hour and a half giving statements to the police. And today, she has started having flash-backs. She has started to remember details about this man. His brightly coloured shirt and tie. His goatee beard. His apparently calm exterior, as he sat drinking his final beer.
And she started to question whether she should have been less selfish, wondering why their food had taken so long to arrive. What if she had been more on the ball? If she had noticed earlier, could she, being a woman, have had more impact on this poor man than the male security guard? Could she have talked him out of it?
Clearly, these are questions that no one will ever know the answer to. And whilst I can fully understand her emotional response, questioning whether she could have done anything to dissuade him from this terrible act, obviously she has no reason to beat herself up about it.
I know that many people feel that suicide is a very selfish act. Personally, I disagree. I have been through a few horrors in my life. The most recent being the period that I was still living with my ex-husband and going through the horrors of divorce. There were countless occasions when I woke at 4am, heart racing, sweating, sobbing in fear of what was ahead of me, and feeling like I was in free-fall with no sight of the ground - not to mention the terror of the trauma I was inflicting on my children. But never, not even once, did I ever consider ending it all.
And why? Because I knew that my life has a value. It may only have a value to a very few people, but those people are the centre of my world. Most specifically, of course, I mean my children.
No matter what may happen in my life, I will fight tooth and nail to ensure that I am there for these two beautiful little people I am so proud to have as children. I want to see them grow up, hopefully go to university, meet the ‘person’ of their dreams and have fulfilling lives. To end my life, would be to devastate theirs.
My dear friend is in such a state, that she has accepted that she needs to speak to someone professionally – a counsellor, or something similar. Despite previous traumas in her life, this is something she has never considered before and it is a huge leap of consciousness for her.
And what of that poor man? Was he loved? Did he have a family who will today be devastated by their loss? Did he have children, a wife or friends – anyone at all who might have been able to help him? What was it that pushed him to the brink?
From what the police said, it seems likely that my friend will have to give evidence at an inquest into his death. And it is possible that some of these questions may be answered. But will the answers will help my friend, or make her feel worse? I only wish I knew.
I do know what it’s like to hit rock bottom; to feel totally alone, desperate and helpless; but to feel so bad that you take your own life, is beyond my imagination.
Sometimes, no matter how tough we think our lives are, it is important to step back and count our lucky stars.
And on that note, as I go to bed tonight, I will be giving my kids an extra big hug and kiss.