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September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and in particular September 10 has come to be known as World Suicide Prevention Day, which helps promote resources and awareness around the issues of suicide prevention, how you can help others and how to talk about suicide without increasing the risk of harm. For me personally, September 27 is a date that I sometimes feel looming for a while each year. But it’s also an anniversary, if you will, that some years (thankfully) can go by without my even realising it had occurred.

World Suicide Prevention Day actually started on September 10, 2003, literally as my world was falling apart. Fifteen years ago I experienced my darkest hour whilst living in The Netherlands. I won’t go into details as it’s possibly even more painful for the other person still living there to recall it than it is for me, except to say that tunnel looked like it was in dire need of lighting.

8 Jan 2015 at Hong Kong’s Canossa Hospital: the mark of Zorro or celebrating Ziggy?

Fast forward eleven years and I’m living in another land again. In early 2014 I moved to Australia. It soon became my favourite country ever. Having said that, 2015 and 2016 could be quite challenging years. And that was made a million times worse because of an accident I had in Hong Kong on 8 January 2015 – yes, David Bowie’s penultimate birthday – where the after-effects of a serious head injury meant that when I arrived in Melbourne I was at seriously low ebb – the worst since Holland, constantly wondering if the physical quality of my life was going to be impaired forever. Even now I’m still not immune to dizziness and I get severe neck pain and chronic migraines if I run for too long or hold my head up high. Damn, isn’t that what gays were born to do too?

Melbourne was good to me. Liveable, yes; stayable, sorry but not quite. Way too provincial. All of 2015 I had this gnawing sensation in the back of my Zorro-marked head that there was something better, hotter and more ‘me’ elsewhere. So I did what any sensible soul would do and returned to one of the greatest, most beautiful cities in the world.

In June 2018, as I was driving back to France after a Bryan Ferry concert in Amsterdam, I made a brief return to the Den Haag apartment block where I was a Netherlands resident from 2002 to 2003, the first time in almost decade and a half

Yup, back to where my Australian adventure began; the city that I dreamt about for so many years back in grey overcrowded Britain; the city with more beautiful beaches you can dare to remember; the city with the most stunning natural waterway in the world. When I say that there is nothing that brings me more happiness than a view of the Pacific Ocean I really mean that. Absolutely nothing compares. And Sydney has all that and so so much more. Cor blimey Sydders, how I missed you! Who cares if the natives can be a little rude? I’m a Londoner, I can be ruder.

Within a week of arriving back in Sydney I… well, you know what it’s like in that first flush of excitement, I met a man that I thought I could spend the rest of my life with. Alas, that someone turned out to be a dastardly bastardly drug addict and confidence trickster who proceeded to rip me off for over 20 grand. Mike Robme my oldest friend Joanne Povey liked to call him. How apt.

Freddie Mercury‘s typically sledgehammer-obvious Don’t Try Suicide, from Queen‘s The Game, replete with intro snaffled from The Police‘s Walking On The Moon

And how bizarre that in that crazy holocaust of 2016 where so many of our heroes, friends and colleagues passed on – including, on a very personal level for me, David Bowie, Pete Burns and George Michael – I should save this person’s life after a sash window got jammed and almost sliced an artery in his wrist as we retuned to the apartment we’d just moved into earlier that day. We’d just returned from seeing Prince‘s peerless Piano & A Microphone concert at Sydney Opera House. I know, right. These irrepressible performers lost their battle with 2016, though Robme lived, at least physically.

Moving on, n 2017 I bought a lovely old farmhouse in the south of France. So now I divide my time between that and the Sydney apartment. My heart remains with Australia though. I’m happy (hope you’re happy too?). But if there’s someone you know that isn’t please see more here. Oh no, love, you’re not alone…

#wspd #worldsuicidepreventionday

Steve Pafford

Epilogue: I spent my birthday in Edinburgh this year, and was delighted to find some Billy Mackenzie and Associates ephemera among the artefacts of the Rip It Up: The Story of Scottish Pop exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland. Dundee duo the Associates were one of my favourite bands of the early 1980s, and Billy a marvellously maverick frontman and imperious, incredible vocalist.

Sadly he succumbed to depression and took his own life in January 1997, aged just 39.

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