Thursday 22 March 2018

Eilis O'Hanlon: Refusal to condemn suicide is no help to anyone at all

Is it just me, or does it seem that when taking your own life was stigmatised, there were fewer suicides, writes Eilis O'Hanlon

Every time a famous person commits suicide, there's a rush to insist that there were no signs beforehand that anything was amiss. Come the inquest a few weeks later, and it usually turns out that there were plenty of signs, it's just that they weren't recognised at the time.

So it was at last week's hearing into the death of former Everton footballer Gary Speed, found hanging in the garage of his home shortly before Christmas. So apparently out of character was Speed's manner of death that it led to frenetic rumours on the internet that he was about to be outed in the media as gay, or for having an affair. More excitable souls even suggested he'd been murdered.

In fact, Speed's wife Louise told the coroner in Cheshire, the pair had had an "exchange of words" that night, and she'd slept in the car. She also revealed that he had threatened to take his own life in a text message only four days previously, and was a "somewhat closed character".

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