Life is stranger than fiction. 16 years ago Saagar came to live in Belfast. Today I attended a Suicide Prevention conference entitled ‘What works? Speaking Truth to Power.’ in Belfast.
It was encouraging to see more than 250 people in the audience – counsellors and other frontline staff, police, GPs, policy makers, funders and voluntary groups. I met other bereaved parents and activists passionately working towards improving mental health services within the NHS and in the voluntary sector. It was inspiring. It gave me hope.
I shared Saagar’s story and the lessons that could be learnt from it. They listened. Afterwards, many came up for a hand-shake, a quick chat and a hug. One lady said, “I have been a psychologist for 12 years. Thank you for reminding me why I chose to be one.”
John Steinbeck, the American novelist once asked his long-time friend, the second Secretary General of the UN, Hammarskjold what he could do to support him and the UN. ‘Sit on the ground and talk to people. That’s the most important thing’ said Hammarskjold.
The longest journey starts with a single step which is to engage in conversation with people in our immediate environment, the place where we have set down the anchor of our lives and to take concerted action with them. The significance of dialogue lies in the process, in sharing thoughts and taking pleasure in each other’s company. This allows each individual to find meaning and feel like a valuable part of a community.