Thursday, February 09, 2012

When Kevin Hall Committed Suicide, We Failed Him. I Failed Him....

Working as a volunteer in the local community, you sometimes get to deal with some desperate cases. Some people you can help. And some people you fail, miserably, and you never forget them.

Kevin had marital problems, mental health issues and financial worries. He was due to be evicted and we were trying to help him either buy more time or arrange alternative accommodation.

I don't think we ever really got him to open up because he was a closed, secretive man, and as volunteers, we perhaps didn't have the professional skills to get past the outer layer. And the professional skills required just weren't available. Last March, Kevin was a no-show at an eviction hearing. He had told social workers he “no longer had the will to fight”.

He covered himself, and his flat, in petrol, and lit a match.

Coroner Elizabeth Pygott recorded a verdict of suicide. Hides a lot of sins and details, doesn't it, the simple word 'suicide'? The welfare state, the health and mental health systems, even local voluntary groups just weren't there for him.

You second-guess yourself constantly; could we have done more? Did we miss the signs?

Kevin was not the first person I knew who has killed themselves. I sincerely doubt that he will be the last.

And each one hurts more than I can bear.