Death of a Stranger

homelessLast Friday night, In a single room on the third floor of a house in Bournemouth Town Centre, a young man I did not know and never met took his own life.

His short, troubled life was brought to a sad and lonely end by a suspected overdose from non-prescription drugs. His death is all the more tragic because it passed unknown and unrecorded throughout the weekend.

In fact the passing of this young man only came to the attention of the authorities on the following Monday, when another resident in the building, in the very next room, complained to the Landlord that there was a terrible smell coming from room number 7.

Not one word of this young man’s death has made the local newspaper; apart from a few residents at the property and those they may have told, his passing has remained almost a secret. Almost.

The young man was living in supported accommodation run by a homeless charity in Bournemouth. He was in the latter stages of a program that should have seen him move on to a new and independent life, having conquered, or at least learned to manage his own personal demons.

Yet now his life is extinguished, his room has been cleared ready for another troubled young soul to move into and his story is little more than a sad memory. Who is there to mourn his passing? Who will grieve at his loss? Is it possible that there is no-one in this world who loved this young man, no-one to lay flowers on his grave?

Was it loneliness that drove him to the ultimate escape? Was it the unbearable void in his life that drove him despairing to take his own life?

There were other deaths that day that may somehow of seemed more newsworthy. Other lives that met their end that left devastated friends and families, who’s anguished features stare hauntingly at us from the pages of the daily newspapers. But no-one suffered about him and no suffering means no news.

I know of his death because he died in my property and it is a property I lease to the homeless charity that was his landlord. We all know that Christmas is the worst time of year to be alone and that more suicides occur at this time of year than any other.

How tough must it be to be alone at a time when we are bombarded from every angle with images of happy families coming together? This week a post I wrote almost a year ago about a homeless lady from Chiswick pulled in over 7000 views from people who are no doubt largely decent folk and were touched enough by this poor lady’s plight to share her story with others they know.

Maybe all this young man who died alone needed was a little human contact. Perhaps his untimely death may have been prevented by a visit from a friend or a call from a family member. I don’t know, we can never know. But it made me think about things. Who do I know that is living on their own that I might call, or pop in and see?

If we stop and think about it, maybe we all know someone like that. Think about it, would it kill you to give them a call? I know you’re busy, we all are at this time of year. It might be low down on your list of priorities, but imagine you read this post and did nothing and then the unthinkable happened to someone you care about.

What if we all did something? A ten minute call to that friend you haven’t seen in ‘oh my God is it really that long?’ won’t cost you that much, but it might just mean the world to them.


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