I sincerely hope, profoundly hope, you’ve never had to go through this. Because I have, and it’s really very hard indeed. Worse than you can imagine.

Talking somebody down from a suicide attempt. Takes a lot of time and emotional IQ. You have to be on the case. Seriously committed. It’s hard work. Really draining. And you can’t just go, ‘Know what? I don’t care. Get on with  it, loser.’

Get a bunch of pills in your hand, a bottle of vodka, a big sharp knife, and you are no fucking LOSER. It takes a huge amount of nerve and commitment. I KNOW. I’ve been hospitalised three times. Stomach pump, a few stitches, lots of iv fluids, 12 hours of nursing time… Nursing staff are amazingly good at keeping you alive

But that was just me. Talking mates  down is a whole different thing. You really need your wits about you. And you won’t always win. I’ve lost three friends, and had a couple of very close calls.

One of my friends rang me at some odd time in the morning.

‘Where are you?’’

‘Dunno. Middle of nowhere.’

‘And? What?’

‘I’m going to kill myself. In a phonebox. In the middle of fucking nowhere.’

I went for the tough love approach.

‘Good. Just do it. Don’t involve me. I’m working tomorrow.’

And I hung up.

Seemed to work. He had his 58th birthday this weekend. n