Tuesday, 13 April 2010

The end of the road

There is a very sad situation that has undergone some examination in Twitter following upon a Daily Mail report that seems to have missed the MSM.

In short, a Mr Roy Amor at his place of work makes a private remark to a colleague that was based upon the friend being black. The conversation was overheard by another who reported the incident as being racial in origin. The employer suspended the joker and, shortly after, he shot himself. It is - to me - important to know that the man of colour did not take offence at what was said to him. The whistle blower knew this. Following the death, the employer said that Mr Amor had been suspended over the joke and added ‘It’s an enormous tragedy and we are all in mourning. I knew Roy personally and he was an excellent technician' The dead man, aged 61, had worked for the company for over 30 years and had been married for 38 years.

There are many questions that this incident should raise. This from another blog allows me to list some without getting myself into too much of a temper.
The man was making a light hearted "quip", are we really living in a climate of fear where we have watch everything we say now ?
The black man in question was a friend of Mr Amor's and took it as it was meant: a joke.
We still have Freedom Of Speech in this country (apparently).
It was not the business of the complainant.
Why did Opcare suspend him ? I mean isn't suspension a bit severe ? After all it's not like a long investigation, all they needed to do was talk to anyone who had been there at the time and clear it up in under 10 minutes. If they were really bothered they could have just given Mr Amor a verbal warning there and then. Instead they make a mountain out of a molehill and get Roy Amor into a "state" where he takes his own life."
There remain some very entrenched views about suicide. I suppose the campaigning and actions of the Samaritains is a major factor in starting to bring these ideas into the light of the 21st Century. I suppose I need to write that I was, for a very very short time, one of these telephone listeners but left over the issue of suicide. They have very strict rules that their people may not directly intervene without consent but carry on until the call is ended normally or the line just goes dead. My policeman's response was to think about identifying the call and getting the emergency services there as soon as possible.

Suicide is not selfish. It is not self-indulgent, It is not a sign of a permanent mental affliction. It is not an act of revenge or malice. I suspect we are seeing and reading more about this way of escape. We have the Dignitas-style debates re assisted suicide and there are those arising from experience of armed conflict. My answer to the selfish/self-indulgent school is that they are possibly experiencing guilt that they were not able to prevent or assist the death of a loved one. Surely, had they been involved in that inner debate they would have recognised that the deceased had been at the end of their tether. The attitude of many health and social work professionals is that people at risk of suicide are going to do it; they're going to find some way; it's random and unpredictable and there's not much you can do about it. That is not true insofar as my limited exposure ran. There were occasions when would-be suicides were shown that there was another way they could view and handle their difficulties or they were guided into direct personal care and treatment.

The situation I see with Roy Amos was that he had led a nice sheltered life in a supportive and loving relationship at home and what was, to him, fulfilling and satisfying employment. He was 61. I certainly had taken my foot off the pedal at that age and was in neutral; coasting downhill into retirement. The actions of his employer had put everything into doubt and under threat. His relationship with his boss was close and the sudden suspension would have destroyed any trust he may have had in that area. How does one face telling a spouse that one is on the scrap heap and all thought of a roseate retirement are foreby?

This sad case never attracted a significant degree of publicity in this country. Certainly, nowhere near Baby P or the mother who killed and set fire to herself and her disabled daughter for starters as comparisons. Roy would be unlikely to be up to speed on things such as verbal and written warnings and we do not know if his employer had any written policy on disciplinary proceedures. I do see them as the villains in this case - the complaint should have been deferred whilst a quick investigation was made. This would doubtless have avoided the drastic step of being sent home away from his place opf work.

I cannot hold any great degree of animus towards the one who reported this. We live in strange times and there are many strange people about as a result. All that can be hoped is that whoever it was now realises that bullying is not just something that kids do in school playgrounds.

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