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  • Last night our downstairs neighbour attempted suicide.

    We're not sure about all of the facts of the situation, but what we do know is that he got obliterated, I think on booze, and tried repeatedly to hurt himself.

    I was woken just before 4am by loud banging.
    We live in an old building and sometimes the sash windows bang in the wind. I spent the first week after we moved in pinned to the sheets in terror every time this happened, but I'm used to it now and I couldn't think how it could have woken me.
    Then I heard another crash, so incredibly loud and violent I knew it wasn't the windows. I thought someone was trying to smash either our door or our neighbour's door down.
    I woke Derek and made him listen. Of course, as is the way with these things, there was no sound for some minutes but then a cacophony of bangs and smashes. Then silence again.

    By this point I was convinced someone had broken in and was attacking, in fact killing, our neighbour, Colin. The noises were moving around his flat and sounded heavy and sinister. Two hard objects colliding make a notably different sound to hard objects colliding with flesh. Every now and again I thought I could make out the sound of footsteps. But something about it didn't quite make sense.

    We went to the windows at the front and back of our flat, trying to see if there was anything, or anyone, in the street or in the garden. We couldn't see anything.

    I could barely move from fear.
    Derek made me lock the front door after him and went out to look in Colin's windows.
    It was the longest 3 minutes of my life, waiting for him to reappear in the frosted glass door panels.
    A forceful thump happened on the wall right next to where I was standing - it sound like a person had been thrown against the wall. It made our door shake.
    Derek did reappear; he said some lights were on, things were moving around in between some of the crashes, and it sounded like a door was swinging open inside. But, he hadn't been able to see anything.

    Derek was certain there was nobody else in Colin's flat apart from Colin. He asked me to lock our door again and said he wanted to knock on Colin's door. I wanted to go with him but he insisted that I stay behind.
    I heard his feet crunching the gravel as he walked to the front of the building. It seemed to take a long time.
    I thought I could hear him at the door and then I heard a phenomenal amount of noise from the downstairs flat, culminating in lots of bottles smashing and a thump.

    I realised then what wasn't making sense. There were no voices whatsoever.

    Derek came back much faster than he went. He said that there was a weird note pinned to the front door and I should call the police.
    I called 999 and went through the process, hardly able to articulate myself.
    I felt strangely bad to call them as when I was younger I got drunk and lost a hand bag - I told my partner of that time that it had been stolen and he made me report it. In a nutshell the police operator identified me as a time waster very quickly and I have felt Catholic levels of guilt ever since.
    This was, of course, a very different situation.
    Derek started to write out what the note said so that I could tell the operator. It said:

    "Postie, please knock. If there's no answer please call the police"

    We waited by the windows for the police car. Derek smoked a cigarette in the kitchen as I didn't want him to go and stand outside until we knew what was happening.
    When the police came we went outside to talk to them.

    The policeman that went round the back of the house came back requesting an ambulance on his radio. He could see someone lying on the floor inside the flat.
    The police then opened one of Colin's sash windows and opened the front door from inside. We could hear them talking to Colin, they had asked us his name. Derek had been asked to stay outside for a bit. He said he could see Colin lying on the floor in the hallway and that there was something strange about his belt.

    We went back to our flat and drank tea and listened. I couldn't stop shaking.

    Ever since we moved in people always ask about our neighbour, usually because we share a lovely big back garden.
    The first thing we always say is "Colin is the nicest man IN THE WORLD".
    We go on to describe how kind and chilled he is. He let us use his broadband when we first arrived, before we were set up. He always tells us to use any of his things in the garden. He let us borrow a bike yesterday afternoon because we had friends visting and it meant we'd have to spend less money at the cycle hire place.
    When we took the bike back he seemed relaxed;he was pleased we had taken the route through to Lyndhurst that he'd suggested. We had a laugh about the fact we couldn't go too far off the main tracks because our friends were towing their little dogs in a special cage behind the hire bikes.
    He always says hello and waves. One evening last year he sat outside and chatted to me about sailing even though I was a little pissed and probably boring as all hell.

    The ambulance came. The crew stayed in the house for what seemed like a long time but was probably about 10 minutes. They were talking to Colin and occasionally we thought we heard him make incoherent noises. As the minutes went by it sounded like he spoke to them a little. There were a couple of surprising bursts of laughter.
    When the brought him out on the stretcher he seemed unconscious.

    After the ambulance left a policeman came and told us that Colin had left quite a few notes in the flat, that it seemed like this was something he'd done in the past "nothing that he hasn't written a thousand times before" and that he thought it was "a cry for help". He reassured us that we had done the right thing by calling the police and that Colin was going to the hospital now and would be OK. He told us that it had mainly been alcohol and that he had a head injury. There was an implication in his voice, I felt, that there was something else as well. He said that Colin seemed "like a really nice bloke" and we agreed. He told us that Colin would see a psychiatrist at the hospital and that he had his front door key so would be able to get in alright when he returned.

    I'm nervous about when Colin returns. It's so selfish of me.
    Will he be cross with us? Will he try it again? What should I do, what should I say to him? I want him to know that I'm not judging him and that I'm worried about him, and that we would miss him.

    I didn't really sleep after the police left. When I did the dreams I had were terrible.

    I can't stop thinking about how it must be to be inside Colin's mind. I can't stop thinking about what was happening in the downstairs flat at 4am.
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