The strains of “Bring him home” from Les Miserables came from the piano. Memories flooded back of the funeral of a young man, dead at twenty.
We never had training in coping with suicide; we never had training in coping with much. The best insight was an attempt at empathy with young people, and it came not from any lecturer, but from Inspector Morse:
Morse: She didn’t do anything special against me. It was just the steady accumulation; the drip, drip, drip of humiliations . . . hatreds, when you’re that age.
So I suddenly thought, ‘Sod this. I’m getting out of this; it’s not worth it’.
Lewis: You ran away?
Morse: I decided to kill myself. I though of all the ways of doing it, then I put them in order: one, two, three . . . all the way down to about fifteen; which would hurt me the most; which would hurt dad; which would Gwen. I even thought of which would hurt little Joycey the least. I liked Joyce.
Then I thought, ‘That’s pretty bloody clever what you’ve done’, because I’m vain. I was vain even then!
And then I thought, ‘If you’re clever enough to have done all that: well, it’s the waste of a good mind’.
Lewis: I can just imagine you saying that.
Morse: No-one can imagine someone else’s pain, Robbie. It’s the human tragedy.
But I made a vow, I wouldn’t forget. I would never forget how awful it is to be fifteen.
I’ve forgotten, of course, everyone does. But I’ve been trying to remember.
The words of a television character in 1992 have been of more help than anything coming from the church – perhaps that’s my own fault.
“Bring him home” is a reminder of unspoken pain. But how shall people speak unless there is someone to talk to them?
Listen to them, please.