World Suicide Prevention Day

Christmas 1977
Christmas 1977

OK, firstly please forgive this possibly garbled post. I have thoughts rushing at me and they are hard to catch. Bear with me…

I’ve had a weird year, not least because I turned 45. I was worried about this particular birthday because my dad was 45 when he took his own life. My birthday passed and it was OK. But it was when I was in Canada last month, on my own, that I hit his exact age, to the day. It was horrible. But I survived.

Now I feel like this age – 45 – is not a millstone but a milestone. I have survived. I don’t know what the road ahead will be like – I have more mountains to climb, that’s for sure. As we all do, in our own way. But I am still here and I have to make each day count.


My childhood is vivid and present with me as I grow older. Last week, I was in my shed/office (shoffice?) sorting through old postcards and I found this kitsch one of two kittens. I had a shock when I saw who’d sent it to me, back in the long hot summer of 1976. It was from a lady I knew as Auntie Wink. She lived over the road from our sweet shop in Torquay. We hung out. It was fun. Though her house smelt of cat pee.

Wink was the starting point for my first novel The Generation Game. I had no idea I’d kept the postcard. I was really moved to have it in my hand. I was back in her front room watching Bruce and Anthea, eating fish and chips. And I said a big thank you to her for making my book what it is.


And something more. This novel was published as a result of the Luke Bitmead Writers Award, a bursary for new novelists set up in memory of a very special young writer who sadly took his own life. His mother, Elaine Hanson, who set up the award, is a wonderful woman. And a survivor.

So I suppose what I am saying is two things:

1. We can never leave our childhood, however old we get. It shapes who we are, for better, for worse. And sometimes it comes back at us, in unexpected ways.

2. We are all connected.

And finally. Today I am giving a special thought to my dad. I wish you’d got some help, Daddy. Then you might still be here, with us, approaching your 80th birthday. That’s a lot of lost years.

And finally finally. Here’s my plea. If you are feeling suicidal or if you are worried about someone who might be suicidal, then please know there is help. Please call the Samaritans. Please talk.



10 thoughts on “World Suicide Prevention Day

  1. As you know Sophie- My childhood demons have caught up with me on occasions and I spent many years trying to escape them. . . but you are right- they do make who we are however disturbing some may be! I have complete admiration for your bravery getting through this year- I know how hard it must have been on occasions. And through you I have been reminded of needlessly lost lives and will be lighting my candle too. Much love and respect to you from

  2. Sophie, your posts are always so thought provoking. Thank you for sharing them with us and for reminding us of this important day.

    I’m delighted, but not surprised to hear that Auntie Wink really existed; for me, she is one of the most vivid characters in The Generation Game. And I love the thought of you writing in a ‘shoffice’. But am I the only one who thinks those two kittens look more like puppies? Ex

  3. Sophie darling, you are a brave young woman. I admire you for sharing this story with everyone, and for all you’ve been through, you are thinking of others.
    I will light a candle at 8pm. Caring thoughts … Rosy x

  4. What good timing – ten two eight and I’ll find a candle. Your posts are amazingly optimistic at a time of great turmoil. Bless you for your honesty and willingness to share.

  5. Great post as I was not actually aware of Suicide Prevention Day until I read it.
    I’m sorry to read about your dad, it was very brave of you to share it and you’re absolutely right – our childhood does stay with us. The good and the bad. I was obsessed with Disney when I was younger and still am to this day. Whenever I have a bad day curling up in bed watching Disney films always brings me straight back home.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s