25 May 2016

Andy

What ever happened to Andy Monkman? Why did he take his own life? He was once a friend of mine. We were at the same school together - Beverley Grammar School in East Yorkshire.

Back in 1972, I went off to Fiji to teach in a high school under the auspices of Voluntary Service Overseas. Something like The Peace Corps. A year later, Andy followed my example and went off to Swaziland to teach in a high school there. And then damn me, a year after I had enrolled at The University of Stirling in Scotland, along came Andy Monkman to study the same subjects as me - English Studies with Education.

When he first arrived, we were best buddies but then he found a girlfriend and drifted away. He always seemed so self-assured, loving the university social life when I often found it to be a source of discomfort and soul searching. It often repulsed me. I can picture him now - tall and happy with a big grin on his face. But he died a few years back and I don't know why.
John and Helen on Mam Tor
I found this out from very old friends John and Helen. They came down to Sheffield for a few days to see a concert by Mishka Shobaly and I guess to see me and they gave me the news about Andy's death. I have tried with ultimate cunning to use Google to unveil better details of Andy's passing but to no avail. Maybe somebody reading this post in the future can fill me in. I would like that.

Why would anybody kill themselves? This life is very precious. We all have ups and downs and sometimes the skies above us can seem very dark indeed but there is always brightness ahead - just round the corner. Dear Andy - I am so sorry that you have gone and I apologise for losing contact. Perhaps I could have shown you a different path, a better path. You didn't need to die. I am shocked and so sorry. See you old chum.

16 comments:

  1. Mysteries! Sometimes the most confident person encounters a bout of deep depression for unknown reasons and they're gone. They leave a big question in the lives of their friends.

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    1. That's it Red. A suicide raises many questions for those left behind.

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  2. I'm sorry I can't help you there, Yorkie. I've never heard of your dear mate.

    Who knows really what goes on within the life of another; what really goes on within them. Sometimes the burdens become to difficult, too heavy to bear. It is sad when that happens - sad for those left to mourn...but it is the choice of the individual. And I guess we have to respect their choice, no matter how difficult that is to do.

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    1. Thank you for your thoughts on this Lee. I would just like to know more details - to understand what happened.

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  3. Very sad. There are times when I can see the attraction of suicide. It must be awful for friends and family left behind but maybe he didn't have any.

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    1. I think that if one had a terminal condition or constant pain, then suicide might seem like an intelligent option. Andy was a very sociable guy and according to my visitors he had no significant health conditions.

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    2. Ah, that was going to be my question -- whether he was physically well or not. In any case, it's always hard to understand the inner life of another, especially when it leads to drastic consequences. I think we just have to accept that we cannot know. So sorry for your loss.

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    3. Some people are very good at creating masks that shield their true selves from the outer world.

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  4. It is rarely those who moan and complain about their lives all the time, and maybe even threaten to take their own lives, who really do it. With them, it's mainly a form of emotional blackmail. It's the quiet unhappiness that runs so very deep and is so very hard to detect from the outside that leads to despair so big as to seeing ending one's one life as the only solution.
    I am very sorry that Andy was, apparently, of the latter kind.

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    1. Having spent some time studying the sociology of suicide at university, I can recall two relevant issues here. One - most people who successfully commit suicide are men. Two - most people who commit suicide will have declared their intentions ahead of the act.

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  5. Did you lose contact with Andy or did you just drift apart as you said? In the latter case it takes two two lose touch and you can hardly blame yourself. Just imagine life if you kept in touch with everyone from your past.

    If I hadn't written that first paragraph I would have echoed Meike.

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    1. The losing contact was just about moving on with our lives. I don't blame myself but I feel that I could have helped him not to choose that path if we had stayed in touch.

      Strangely it seems that in the days before his death he made many phone calls to chat with old friends he hadn't spoken to in years. He wouldn't have had my number and because I have always been ex-directory he would have found it very hard to track down.

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  6. No, I haven't heard of your friend either - sorry YP.
    It's sad that things go so wrong in life that someone will contemplate ending it. It must take a certain strength of will to do that, whatever the reason.
    If Andy had been able to track you down, you might not even have had an inkling of his future intentions. You may have put the phone down afterwards and thought how nice it was to have a chat after all this time.

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    1. You are most probably right CG.

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  7. Sadly, suicide is a permanent solution to what is usually a temporary problem, but too many people cannot see the light in the distance. I'm still undecided whether taking your own life is an act of of bravery or cowardice. Perhaps it's a bit of both.

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    1. You are becoming wise in your old age Ian.

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