Just ten weeks after Jake died the most surreal thing happened. It was November 2015, I set off for a walk on a route that I was familiar with along a nature trail. I was walking along deep in thought when I noticed something which made me pause and think. A young man was sat on a bridge facing the water. I noticed that he had a bottle of vodka in his hand and an elderly lady was talking to him. I thought that’s odd, but thought they must know each other. I carried on walking for a short time but something stopped me and I paused, looked back and watched the situation for a few moments. The elderly lady looked a bit troubled and she reluctantly walked away. The area was reasonably busy with dog walkers, joggers and local school children using the path as a short cut home. I decided to walk back towards the bridge and the young man. Don’t get me wrong it wasn’t high drama, there were railings that he was leaning against and it’s not a particularly high bridge. As I approached the young man he had his back to me and had earphones in. I looked around and everything just seemed normal, but I felt I had to ask if he was ok. I tapped him on the shoulder, he took out one of the earphones turned around and instantly tried to dismiss me by saying ‘there’s nothing you can do or say, just leave me.’ I tapped him on the shoulder again and said ‘are you not feeling good today’? I can still see the response and his face to this day. It was like a light switch, and he started to talk to me. I said to him ‘I lost my son to suicide 10 weeks ago and I have to live with it’. At this point I had his full attention. He started to tell me his situation, he had recently been released from Prison as he had been involved in a fight and served 18 months of a 3 year sentence. He had previously been a promising cricketer (he was 22) and he was struggling to fit in with his friends who he thought had all moved on. He told me that he had drank the vodka and had pills in his pocket (he showed me Sertraline). He also showed me that he had only taken one of the tablets since the prescription because he believed that his friends would think he was weird. He also said that this was the first time that he had actually taken action and that he was at stage 3 (I kind of knew what he meant). I said to him if you fall or jump from this bridge you will probably break both your legs and be hugely inconvenienced for weeks. At that point the elderly lady who had previously been talking to him appeared and she said to me there’s a bench over there. I suggested that we sit on the bench and assured him that I would continue to talk to him. He agreed and we sat down. To be honest I was getting worried because it was late afternoon and it was beginning to go dark, there were people around, but I thought my husband will wonder where I am. I asked him where he lived and when he told me it was literally a 10 minute walk (and the direction that I was heading). I said ‘would you like me to walk you home’? He said ‘would you mind? I smiled to myself and thought thank goodness for that. We started walking and his mood started to lift he seemed more upbeat and we chatted about more general things. As we got close to the avenue where he lived he suddenly stopped and said ‘oh no my Nan’s outside, she’ll have a heart attack if she knows what’s gone on’. I agreed to leave him at that point. I got my shopping and went home. My husband was at the door wondering where I had been. I told him the story feeling like I had done a good deed for the day, I felt quite hyped up. As the hours went by I started to worry and my safeguarding head kicked in. This was a young man, who left his home in the morning and did not know where that day was going to end and like I said it was not high drama and he wasn’t about to jump but he was not in a good place. I overheard some school kids say look at him attention seeking. I kept thinking that he is someone that could do it. I thought about contacting his probation officer, the Health Centre where he god his meds prescribed (he showed me the box) and I even thought, shall I go and speak to his mum. It was bothering me. My husband said to me you are far too vulnerable to get involved and just the chance meeting and the conversation that we had will stick with him and mean something. Over time I realised that this was right. Every time I walked close to where he lived I would look at the house and if the cat was sat on the bonnet of the car it would make me think that all was well in the world (no idea why). I actually passed him on the path about a year later and he said hello to me. I am not sure if he fully remembered me or it was just that I looked familiar. It made my day because he looked really well and upbeat. The family seem to have moved so I no longer need to look for the cat…lol. I will never forget that conversation or the look on his face when I asked ‘are you not feeling good today?’ I would like to think that the conversation means something to him too.
Start the conversation ‘Are you not feeling good today?’
Jun 16, 2019