When despair gets the upper hand

Plettenberg Bay resident PAUL DEANS shared this poem he penned and subsequent letter, saying ‘I wrote this for a young man who ended his life just before Christmas, leaving behind a broken family’


Sometimes the winds of life are too strong

Rising to a gale

of despair

Breaking my slender stem

Dark heavy clouds

No gleam of light or hope

A shore that I

cannot reach

Slowly the hands of that hope slip away

No longer touchable

Forgive me

Understand me

with kindness

Knowing the desperate distance you feel

Cannot be reached

Be gentle with

my memory

I am always there


It is a sad poem, but so is the subject. It is desperation’s last resort and the numbers are climbing at an appalling rate, particularly among men between the late 20s and 50s. But not so in the female, it seems.

Why is it that men can no longer cope as well as the so-called weaker sex? Can it be because of the difficulty to provide up to modern standards?

The time when man left the cave in the morning to hunt, came back later saying “here’s dinner, the fur coat I promised you is hanging outside” is long forgotten.

Has the constant pressure of equality, both in work and pay, led to uncertainty in his position in the social hierarchy - led to a feeling of inadequacy?

The female has always been the stronger. She will take any abuse, of which there is plenty, to make sure her children survive. She was always the power behind the throne. Now she is the throne.

Or is it the pressure of the workplace to succeed - has it become too competitive, coupled with the aspirations of social wealth, the cost of that position beyond possibility?

And yet in our history, since the industrial revolution when conditions were so appalling, have there ever been so many people taking their own lives?

Is modern communication with its pictures of how the other 15% live, being a divide impossible to breach, making man feel a total failure?

There is no question the pressure of today’s competitive world is unbearable. Then again, the amount of social care has never been higher.

Is the ever-increasing population robbing us of individual identity? Rats when reared in an overpopulated environment produce a variation of sexual changes to keep the numbers down, together with epidemics.

But we continually defeat Nature in her desire to get rid of this mistake she made. Is it money, this desperate need to keep up with the Joneses? (They must be an incredibly rich family, so sorry my name is Deans…)

Got to show we have a bigger car, houses in rich suburbs, the right schools, destination holidays - all those things that the partner wants. Who is now looking after home and hearth, when she is out there helping to achieve the pipedream?

Leaving home when the sparrows make its statement and coming back late, leaving the child in the care of a helper during the years when a mother is most needed, packing it off to a crèche at the age of two, then to school and extra lessons in everything so that it will not be left behind. Competitive absolutely.

These are the things that are most disturbing, having been close to loss by suicide. Which one of us has not considered it at some time in our lives?

Surely it all boils down to the feeling of inadequacy, developing to hopelessness, and despair. Why bother to continue, it’s all going to end sometime, so why bother to wait?

Not all of us have that spirit in Rudyard Kipling’s ‘If’, and in this harsh world, where money is the only criterion of success, to some it becomes increasingly difficult to wake up in the morning and fight against the odds that grow greater every year.

As the Bible states, we are born to struggle. Some just can’t.