Compassion measured in sparse dollars

On Monday my friend Carl died – under the wheels of a train. He would not have meant to disrupt the lives of rush-hour commuters. Nor would he have wanted to cause distress to the train crew. Perhaps from the “other side” he will let me apologise on his behalf.


Perhaps it’s ironic that, in seeking release from pain, his life ended in one of the most painful ways possible. Perhaps he’s at peace at last.

I met Carl six years ago when I was managing a trust committed to the housing of mentally ill people, and he was seeking accommodation.

He had mental illness, and he wished he hadn’t. Paid work was not on his possible list, but he tinkered with old computers and other electronics. Necessary medication was resisted and he was not keen on mental health workers having input into his life. Consumption of alcohol became an important solace and painkiller, and increasingly a gripping addiction. Continue reading


Robin Guy has recently retired after 50 years’ involvement in the mental health sector.

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