Friday, 19 November 2010

Desperate times, desperate people

This morning I met up with fellow community campaigner Sue Hessel on Archway Bridge to assess what more could be done to prevent yet more suicides from occuring. Since I blogged a few days ago, it has been reported that a third man has jumped to his death in as many weeks. David Bennett, 33, Andrew Mactier, 31, and Ryan George, 29, have all died here since October 19th.

Sue and I are standing next to the old SOS phone which is now defunct. Two days ago the Samaritans put up some signs about their helpline (which is sadly not a freephone number). Already one of the signs has been made illegible due to vandalism.

The messages which have been written and left with the flowers on the bridge are almost too heartbreaking to read. There is no doubt that these men were let down by the woefully inadequate mental health provision in this country. With the slashing of budgets and the stresses of redundancy, unemployment and personal debt, our fear is that we will see yet more deaths like this.

The time to act to help desperate people is right now.

Postscript: After this photo was taken, I went down the Holloway Road to run an errand (actually, to buy industrial-strength staples to make up some placards ahead of the demo outside Monday's council meeting). There I found a man collapsed by a bus stop, blood coming from a cut on his head. A few of us called for an ambulance and then ensued a game of chase down the Holloway Road, where the man, confused, drunk, and I expect concussed, tried to walk away but kept falling over, sometimes precariously close to the busy road. We eventually united him with ambulance staff.

This encounter, so soon after I had been up on the Archway Bridge, just served to drive home the desperate state so many people are in, and how the present Government's slash and burn approach to the deficit will drive so many more into such a sorry state.

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