This morning, only eight days before Christmas, I opened the newspaper to find three articles about suicide.
The stories brought home the fact that one of the supposedly most-joyful times of year, is for many people the bleakest of all.
In one of the cases, a woman took her own life at a DIY store in Kent. In another, a man survived after he was talked down from the roof of a multi-storey car park in South Wales.
The case that made the front page, was the death of a footballer who took his own life in Northamptonshire.
There are any number of reasons why people take their own lives, but often the decisive factor is not the individual reason, but how isolated that person feels in having to deal with it.
At a time of year during which we are bombarded with glowing messages telling us we should all be eating turkey and opening presents while surrounded by the love of friends and family, isolation is brought into even starker relief and made even harder to bear.
Too painful to ignore
Loneliness that can stay buried under busy lives and shallow distractions during the rest of the year, at this most family-orientated of holidays, can become too painful to ignore.
Perhaps the most-telling of the three cases, was the death of the 24-year-old professional footballer.
A young man living what for countless others was the dream existence of playing football and getting paid for it, still found himself feeling unable to carry on.
That is to say, anyone can hit rock bottom, even those who appear brimming with confidence and success.
It’s OK to feel lonely – it doesn’t make you weak or inadequate. And as these cases and countless others prove, you are far from alone in feeling that way.
So this year let’s try to ignore the messages telling us that unless we’re sitting around a log fire with our family we’ve somehow failed.
Let’s try to listen and to talk. Let’s reach out and hold on.