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*Warning: This article talks about suicide*

Back when I lived in Salisbury, I used to be up at the crack of dawn to walk my dogs behind what is now the Five Rivers Leisure Centre. Behind this building is a small nature reserve, on land that was once a rubbish dump. It’s a lovely little place and I used to take the same route alongside the River Avon and back around, skirting along the cycle path that heads into Salisbury city centre.

I moved out of Salisbury 17 years ago but it’s still one of my nearest towns so I often pop back for one reason or another. Sometimes I take my dogs with me and we go for a short jaunt around the nature reserve. Buddy Love really enjoys a dip in the River Avon down there!

One day, a weekday morning in 2016, I parked up in the leisure centre carpark and headed off on my usual route. I headed away from the carpark through the trees and alongside the river, cutting down to a path, passing by some of the big, old and impressive yew trees down there. I hadn’t been there for ages so I was looking around to see what had changed and I noticed a big branch of one of the yew trees had fallen down. A thought came into my mind, inexplicably and out of nowhere. ‘Someone hung themselves there and the branch fell down.’

A chill came over me and I was shocked at the thought that had entered my head. I am not a macabre sort of person and I never have thoughts like that. It’s almost like it invaded my headspace and I walked swiftly away. I didn’t like the feeling. I thought about it a bit that day and then not much more after that, until a few days later. Something told me to look up the Salisbury Journal, to see if there was any story in there relevant to my experience.  

It came as quite a shock to me as there I came across a very sad piece of news. Back in 2016, a transwoman named Gabriel Tinto, aged 51, was living as a woman, engaging fully in everyday activities.

But it was difficult for Gabriel. She left messages on Facebook, telling her friends of her struggle with the lack of acceptance and her physical traits that gave her original gender away. It appeared she was attending Salisbury College, studying psychology, and was facing bullying behaviour. The messages were sad, voicing her troubles, and we now see, a cry for help.

“I am starting to believe the insults. I am tired and I can’t see a happy ever after.”

Gabriel Tinto, Facebook

The next part of the article went onto state that so very sadly, Gabriel had been found by dog walkers, having taken her own life by hanging. It was quite poignant that she had chosen a yew tree, given that this sacred tree has an association with death.  

I have never really spoken about this because obviously it’s a very sensitive subject and a tragic tale. I do feel though that, this event should remind us to be kind to each other and accepting of others, no matter how we choose to live our lives.

And as for my experience, that of seeing the yew tree branch on the floor and knowing why it was there; well, I must have just picked up on the energy there at that time. It was only a couple of days after the event that I had been there. It must have been some sort of psychic imprint, if such a thing exists. I have walked there many times since and always glance at the tree but I have not experienced any other overwhelming feelings.

I hope Gabriel is now at peace.

*The image of the yew tree is from Kingley Vale Nature Reserve. Credit: Sussex Exclusive

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