Well, not toxic, exactly... maybe just a little bit rank. But in a nice way. With a garnish.

Friday, July 07, 2006

youth worker

“So how many paracetamol does it take to kill yourself?”

I blink.

He is about 11 years old; fresh-faced, hair spiked up at the front and clutching a skateboard. He doesn’t look suicidal.

I am at the Ely festival and there are enough shell suits in the park to start a European shell-suit mountain. That is, if everyone took them off and piled them into a huge, static heap, which isn’t that likely thinking about it, as they might get chilly and no one could smoke for fear of infernos.

The combined noise of all the shell-suited bodies as they rustle their way around the stalls sounds like the tide during a force 8 gale.

Maybe I didn’t hear him right, due to not having super-human hearing.

“Did you just ask how many paracetamol it takes to kill yourself?” I yell.

He nods vigorously. “Or heroin,” he adds loudly.

I have a quick think but nothing turns up in the way of get-out clauses.

“Anything from about 7 pills upwards is extremely dangerous,” I say, “and any amount of heroin could kill you if you get a bad batch or you don’t have any tolerance built up”.

The little boy looks very, very, very interested.

“Is it painful?” he says, with a look on his face that I imagine his maths teacher can only dream of.

“Yes. It can be incredibly painful and very long and drawn out… I wouldn’t recommend it."

He looks disappointed.
I wonder if finding out the most efficient way of suicide is normal for an 11-yr old? Maybe I should call Social Services.
I have another think for about a quarter of a second.

I decide against it (after agonising), as I am allergic to paperwork.

“I would say the best way to kill yourself would be to drink a load of petrol and set fire to yourself,” I say, helpfully.

Appalled, he flees and I check to see his mum didn’t overhear.


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