Thursday, 23 April 2015
On Monday night of this week something tragic happened; a young 21 year-old guy that I knew called Matthew Percy from Ipswich decided to take his own life. This person was not someone that I knew very well but as a fellow member of the Labour Party we were ‘connected’ and I would regularly see him at Labour Party events where we would say hello etc. Through social media - it added a different level of ‘connectivity’ and we would ‘like’ and comment on each other’s statuses and engage in discussions about local politics and community issues. Ever since I found out that Matthew had died I have thought about him and his situation a lot. I saw so much of myself in Matthew, I became actively involved in politics at a young age and despite only being 21, Matthew was already a local Councillor and through his Facebook statuses his passion was clear – I remember thinking regularly that everything was so important for Matthew, I’m sure that was partly his age, and no doubt partly because of his autism, but also because of his passion. I saw on Monday a Facebook thread of Matthews where there was a debate about suicide, it seemed quite intense but that was not of surprise. I did not see that later on Matthew had posted a Facebook status that was in effect a suicide note. Reading as I did the following day the comments from people frantically trying to contact him and discussing who should phone the police was absolutely harrowing. To read officially that he had indeed died - I gasped out loud. To have it play out online in that way was just excruciating. Death is such a final thing, I’ve always struggled with it, there’s no returning from it – nothing you can do can make any difference once someone has gone – that’s what’s so saddening about it for me. We will never know how Matthew could have developed and what he could have achieved. That's a big part of the reason this is tragic. It’s inevitable I guess but I can’t help but think of what more could have been done, what could have prevented this? I think if we’re all honest we all have insecurities, we all have things that make us unhappy. The difference is that we all deal with this in different ways, we all tolerate things to greater or lesser extents and we all have different support structures in place, whether they be friends or family, or professional forms of support. I’ve really taken a lesson from Matthews situation that we should all be more considerate of others, we should all think about making comments that may cause somebody anxiety or distress. I guess in short we should all be more human. I think too that we should also make sure that there is support there for others. Matthew was somebody that cared deeply for others, he did this despite clearly having his own issues. Whilst I know that nothing can be done for Matthew, I hope, I so so hope that it does not need to happen to anyone else and whilst we cannot bring him back, we can try to make sure it doesn’t happen again. That’s my only crumb of comfort in what is otherwise an incredibly tragic and sad situation. RIP Matthew.