Archive for September, 2013

Suicide takes way too many lives and damages those left behind…

September 26, 2013

September the 10th was World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD), this initiative was launched back in 2003 and every year on this day there are now various events, conferences, campaigns and local activities in several countries all held to call public attention to one of the world’s largest causes of premature and unnecessary deaths.

Having lost my best friend to suicide when I was in my early 20’s, and he just a year younger than I, this is an issue that has always been both upsetting and challenging to me. And alas it is an issue that if anything has gotten worse over the years not better. One awful side effect of suicide is the stigma that goes with it, friends and family find it hard to deal with and often feel they ought to have known something. They grapple with the guilt that they may have been able to prevent the death of their loved one in the first place, and this is what feeds the stigma and makes it hard for them to deal with their loss and grieve in a way that others might who have lost someone that was not to suicide. It took me years to deal with these issues and I still think of my friend and what he would be doing with his life were he still here, and indeed what he would make of some of the choices I have made in my life over the 20 years since he died.

It is his birthday in a couple of weeks and I’ll be sure to have a drink in his honour as I always do and visit a church to light a candle for him, something I know his catholic mother would appreciate.

Some facts that you might not know are that here in Australia, suicide is the leading cause of death for men under the age of 44 and for women under the age of 34. In addition suicides take more lives each year than car accidents or skin cancer. So much is done to combat skin cancer here in Australia and the number of public health messages relating to this is great, but very few deal with the issue of suicide, maybe it’s time our government did more to address this issue rather than spending millions of dollars on ads trying to scare refuges off from coming to Australia (but that’s a whole other post).

Not a happy blog post I know, but one from the heart.

RIP Sir David Paradine Frost

September 2, 2013

davidFrom my own county, David Frost was born in Tenterden Kent, in 1939, so a bit before me. I spent a very unhappy year living in Gillingham and went to hear him speak at the local grammar school which he attended as a child before going on to Cambridge University. I can’t really remember what the talk was about now (it was more than 20 years ago) but I do remember that listening to him talk made me want to do something with my life other than live in a bedsit and work in McDonald’s which was what I was doing at the time.

Back then I knew him primarily as the host on Through the Keyhole, and still recall his voice saying “who lives in a house like this”, his co-host was Loyd Grossman who went on to sell condiments!!!

Anyway, what I did not know at the time was that he had been such a successful journalist and TV producer (he was one of the original founders and owner of London Weekend Television). In 1977, he did the The Nixon Interviews, a series of five 90-minute interviews with former US President Richard Nixon. Nixon was paid $600,000 plus a share of the profits for the interviews, which Frost funded himself after the US television networks refused to do so calling them “chequebook journalism” (og how things have changed).

Frost was also the only person to have interviewed all eight British prime ministers serving between 1964 and 2010 (Harold Wilson, Edward Heath, James Callaghan, Margaret Thatcher, John Major, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron) and all seven US presidents in office between 1969 and 2008 (Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush).

And after the 1979 Iranian Revolution Frost was the last person to interview Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran.

These are but a handful of his achievements, sad to see such an accomplished talent come to an end.