STEPHEN KERSHAW AND HIS TALK OF SUICIDE

One of the auto suggestions which One in Four instils in every one of its ‘clients’ is the assertion that he or she must have contemplated suicide at some time and that this feeling was caused by the alleged abuse.

That organisation will never, of course, seek to attribute this destructive feeling to any other cause. Seeking to identify another possible reason for the suicidal feelings does not suit its agenda and accordingly is never explored.

Stephen Kershaw is the classic example of this type of situation. 

In Stephen Kershaw’s case there is a well documented cause for any suicidal feelings he may have had. 

According to the recollections of two of his friends it was the suicide of the American rock singer Kurt Cobain who killed himself in April 1994 when Stephen Kershaw was 18 years of age which triggered Stephen Kershaw’s suicidal feelings. Kurt Cobain’s death was followed by a number of copy-cat teenage suicides in various countries. It seems that Stephen Kershaw wanted to add Ireland to that list.   

Was One in Four ever made aware of the connection between Stephen Kershaw’s ideation tendency and the suicide of Kurt Cobain?

One of Stephen Kershaw’s friends had this to say about Stephen Kershaw’s reaction to Kurt Cobain’s death:

We were away at Knockree hostel when Kurt Cobain died. We were drinking and Stephen was drunk. He took the information of Cobain’s death very hard, and went out into the rain and thumped the ground. I thought this was not a natural reaction to the death of a celebrity.

His good friend (not his best friend) Ciaran MacAoidh has provided two written versions of Stephen Kershaw’s consideration of committing a copy-cat suicide. 

The first version appears to have been written in December 1994 and relates to an event that took place ‘some four or so weeks before the Leaving of ‘94′. Ciaran MacAoidh’s unedited words are as follows:

’I caught up with him on the Swords Nitelink. ‘What the fuck are you doing here?’ We were both a bit drunk and had an argument on the bus with him saying he didn’t want me near him and either sit elsewhere or get off the fucking bus. I said I wasn’t going anywhere, that I only followed ‘cos I was worried, that he was a cantankerous, aggro bollox. 

Actually it was quite a quiet little affair that didn’t even last until the bus took off at either 1.00am or 2.00am. I have the ticket somewhere. I’ll find it. Not too far from Swords he smacked my knee with his. I thought he was being childish and ignored. He did it again, I turned ready to snap. He had a slightly guilty, sheepish grin on ‘sorry, ok?’ any apology from him is very unusual. I nodded and said ‘we’ll talk when we get off the bus’.

We got off the bus and started to talk.

He was depressed, angry and scared. Even the next day I found it hard to remember the conversation. We were walking past the Bayer plant just after the foot bridge when he told me he was going to commit suicide. He said sooner or later. This week or next year; he wouldn’t make it to 25. Within 10 steps I’d started to cry. I didn’t even notice till he said not to, he was just so frank and level headed about it, like it was a crappy little job he was talking about. We weren’t drunk any more but drink was still in our heads and it loosened us up considerably. When I said I couldn’t accept that he said was fact and I shouldn’t cry about it that it’d be ok. ‘Okay? What the fuck….? I’ve just been told that my best friend is as good as dead and I’m supposed to cry. We made very slow progress with me keeping on sitting down on the kerbside outside the Montessori in tears. He kept picking me onto my feet by my head and saying I shouldn’t cry. The oddest thing I’ve ever experienced was him + I nose to nose, eye to eye and him saying ‘I’m going to die’. We spent about an hour to two hours talking. I was trying not to annoy him by belittling his situation and I succeeded. He said if he told anybody else they’d think his suicide thing was because of Kurt’s death in April. I said I didn’t, I’d never think things could be as simple as that. I knew it was a factor. Kurt Cobain was Stephen’s guru, mentor from a disc and a tape, his inspiration and he was shocked and betrayed by the suicide. He still cries sometimes when he watches the tapes of Kurt + Frances Bean, or certain parts of Unplugged and so on.

The second version of this event was recorded in writing in June 2008. Once again Ciaran MacAoidh’s words are unedited:

One night we were in Fibbers and Stephen was in a really bad mood. There was an argument in the pub,  between the group of us and Stephen stormed out and his girlfriend at the time tried to stop me from going after him, but I followed him to the night link and on the way to Swords he apologised. Then we spent ages talking outside the “Bayer” plant where Stephen talked about wanting to kill himself and if I hadn’t followed him, there was a good chance he would have. He did not talk about how he wanted to kill himself, he talked about the details around it, mainly series of letters he wanted to write to people and things he wanted me to tell people and that he would not see 25. This scared me as he appeared to be so certain in the way he was talking. He said he did not want to tell anyone else because they would think he was just reacting to Kurt Cobain suicide a few weeks earlier. Stephen took Kurt Cobain’s death very badly.

If true this must now all seem terribly infantile to a grown man. The idea that a follower of a third rate musician living on the other side of the world would consider killing himself because the musician had committed suicide seems completely bamey to any rational person.

If this suicidal leaning was as Ciaran MacAoid records – and we await contradiction from Stephen Kershaw – then this critical fact was never told to One in Four nor did One in Four make any effort to discover it.

The next time a ‘victim’ of sexual abuse is heard to attribute suicidal feelings to the alleged abuse the reader or listener can legitimately ask is there some other cause of that inclination which has been deliberately suppressed.