It’s taken me some time to write this. I’ve written, re-written, held onto it…but I’m hoping it’ll feel better to get it out into the world, to push it away, to say it all.
Back in January, my friend Ryan Rogers was killed by a train in Stonehouse. We thought it was an accident; I originally thought that he collapsed on the crossing. We slowly learned bits and pieces, but it’s hard when all the evidence is being collated and no-one’s entirely sure. So we were waiting for the inquest to hear everything together, and that was in May.
He stepped out in front of the train. It’s a matter of public record, now; it’s pretty clear what the train driver saw even if there’s no video of it. He’d left his rucksack tucked by the bridge, too…I don’t entirely know what to believe, but on balance of probability, I have to go with what was said. There wasn’t anyone else involved. There aren’t any other factors we can point to. I’m still wavering, but I have accepted the verdict.
I saw him that morning; we’d had an awesome game the night before, and a good morning watching Ghibli films. I dropped him home. He was last recorded in the pub in Cirencester at about 2pm, and then he went to meet someone. Then it was 6.20 pm, and he was in Stonehouse. That’s it.
I’ve got two options.
Either; something happened between 2pm and 6.20. We don’t know where he went; we don’t know who he saw. We don’t know why he was in Stonehouse. We don’t know what method he used to get there, or when he arrived. But something happened that made him decide to not want to live any more, and I don’t know what it was; only that it would have to have been something big, something hurtful, to turn him from the person who smiled as me as he got out of the car to the person who walked out in front of a train, five minutes’ walk from a place that was a second home and a sanctuary for him, where he knew we’d be waiting with hugs and acceptance, whatever the circumstances.
Or; he was lying to me. I don’t know how long for. We were good friends. We spoke honestly and often about mental health, and suicide, and the honest reality of what it means to live with a brain that tells you life is shit. If he was thinking of suicide before that day, then it means he was lying to me when he said he would see me next week, and when he said he did have things to live for, even if life was a struggle at times. It means he was lying to us all when he seemed happier, more stable, more optimistic. It means I can’t trust any of my relationship with him, because I don’t know how much of it was a facade. But it also means that he didn’t trust me, and that almost hurts more.
I don’t know which option to believe, or if it’s a mix of the two.
We don’t have his notebook; he always carried one, and it wasn’t in his bag. He didn’t leave messages for anyone.
We don’t know.
In many ways I’ve made my peace with it – I accepted it back in January, in the few horrible days after I first heard. I don’t have any answers. I can’t talk to him, or yell at him, or hug him. I won’t ever know. And I’m ok with that, because it’s not something I can change.
But it still hurts like fuck.
This is the reality of those left behind when someone commits suicide. It’s a way out, and believe me, I entirely understand the temptation. Life sucks, the world sucks, and no one cares; it’s a way out of the pain and it’s a way of removing yourself from the lives of people you’re just a burden to.
Except you’re not.
You leave behind so many unanswered questions and so many holes in hearts. You rip apart relationships and families, and you won’t ever be forgotten.
I’m not sure, if I ever did see Ryan again, if I’d punch him or hug him first. Probably both, which could be awkward.
This will fade, and this will heal.
But I will always have the scar. And I will always have, buried somewhere in the depths of my heart, that tiny list of questions, that frustration that we don’t have answers, and that little nagging doubt.
Could I have done anything to stop this?
Ps. An update from a year later.