Tuesday 12 December 2017

Oliver Brown: Suicide is a life sentence for loved ones left behind

You imagine Gary Speed's wife Louise, whose torment at discovering him hanged in the basement of their garage in Cheshire is impossible to measure. You fear for the two teenage boys, Edward and Thomas, who face a lifetime of struggle to make sense of an act that defies any notion of the rational.

The tragedy of those who take their own lives is magnified by the life sentence it delivers to those who loved them most. For a haunting illustration of that truth, Ronald Reng's 'A Life Too Short: The Tragedy of Robert Enke', is unsurpassed. His work, the winner of the William Hill Sports Book of the Year prize, leaves the reader racked as much by sorrow for Robert as for the plight of the goalkeeper's widow, Teresa.

Literature would struggle to render a love story as affecting as that between Robert and 'Terri', teenage sweethearts from the former East Germany whose journey from Monchengladbach to Hanover via Lisbon, Barcelona and Istanbul slowly deepens their mutual commitment. She says of Reng's book: "He never forgets the many happy memories there were."

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