I was making my way to Aspire on the Quayside at Gateshead, along the road from the small car park to its new offices. Just outside the door, on the other side of the road, there were some wilted flowers tied to a lamppost, something you see all too frequently on busy roads where someone has died. Yet this was a relatively quiet lane.
I asked at reception what had happened. Apparently it was something that had occurred before Aspire had opened at that site. A man had killed himself by falling off the High Level Bridge. Up until that point I hadn’t realised that we were directly under one of the bridge’s main stanchions but now it all became clear.
I was going to say it all made sense yet it made no sense at all. I could not begin to comprehend the trauma that somebody must have been in to do such a thing. The pain and anguish must have been unbearable for him and I couldn’t help thinking of him and the hole he has left in his family. The flowers were testimony to his love and the sense of loss.
Suicide is a too common occurrence. Though the figures are not consistent, around 5,000 people will take their own lives a year in England and Wales, about fourteen a day. Every large bridge that I cross has signs offering people help and I wonder how many take this up. I hope they do.
It touched me. There I was busy as a beaver, planning away for the life ahead of me yet in a matter of metres someone had decided that they had no future. It was a stark contrast and made me realise how lucky I am.
I did not get close enough to read the person’s name, perhaps I should have done. I hope though that they have found the release and peace they sought. It is all too poignant.