Issue 40

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By Brian Pelan, VIEW editor

I first heard the phrase, ‘lives of quiet desperation’, when a critic was trying to capture the appeal of the US short story writer Raymond Carver.

I thought of it again when I was first approached by Contact’s chief executive Fergus Cumiskey. He asked me would I think about bringing out a themed edition of VIEW which would look at the issue of suicide.

And think about it I did.

My initial feeling was to say no to Fergus. The subject is difficult, and also, would anyone want to read a 32-page magazine which exclusively concentrated on suicide?


But I’ve never wanted VIEW to shy away from issues that matter. And the deaths of so many men, women and teenagers do matter. Those who have taken their own lives may no longer be around but the stories of who they were live on in the lives of those who loved them.

I finally said yes to Fergus. And if you’re reading this then I hope you will read the other stories and comment articles in the 40th edition of VIEW.

I’d be telling lies if I said it was easy to put together. It was hard.

My first morning on the magazine was spent watching a BBC documentary about a young woman whose husband took his own life. In an effort to try and understand the reasons behind it and to attempt to answer some of her own questions, she travelled the length and breadth of Britain to talk to families and individuals who also lost loved ones. I felt very emotional as I watched and listened to the trauma and anger of people affected by suicide. It was as if they had all become part of an exclusive club which none of them wanted to belong to.

I would like to thank all those who assisted in the production of this magazine. I also feel privileged and humbled to play a part in it. We all must raise our voices to demand that the issue of suicide prevention be put at the heart of Stormont’s Programme for Government.

The reasons why people take their own lives may be complex but we owe it to them to adopt measures which try and effectively address it. To ignore it is wrong. To adopt economic measures and policies which may exacerbate desperation in people’s lives is also wrong. The piling on of student debt on our young, and incarcerating people with mental health problems in our jails, is not the answer and never can be the answer.

We have a choice: either we tip-toe around the issue of suicide and apply sticking plaster solutions or we lobby for an effective strategy which is aimed at easing the plight of those who are leading lives of quiet desperation.

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