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"A note on suicide – we need to extend kindness"
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"A note on suicide – we need to extend kindness"

Samantha KhanQuestions raised by the suicide of a classmate prompted Samantha Khan, 21, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Trincity, Trinidad, to make a video to promote discussion and reach out to those with suicidal thoughts.

Last November saw the suicide of one of my classmates.

I remember everything about the last time that I saw him. It was his first time to our seminar group after missing the previous classes. He was distant, though not in a way that suggested anything beyond a lack of preparation for our discussion. When the class ended, our seminar leader gently informed him that he should prepare a discussion question for next time. He gave a nod and a slight smile. A knowing smile, in hindsight.

That was Tuesday afternoon. On Thursday morning we received the email about his death.

I wonder why he chose to come to class that day. Was he searching for a reason to keep going? His smile when our teacher mentioned “next time” says otherwise. Was it his way of saying goodbye?

I explained this to a relative of mine who found my sadness slightly unreasonable given that I had only seen him once. But I was not sad for myself. I was sad because this boy, this actual living breathing human being was sitting in a class with us, having these dark thoughts and no one knew anything. This person was there and is now not and not one of us sitting in that room knew a thing.

In hindsight, his mannerisms, his behaviour, everything down to his posture betrayed his thoughts. He radiated a kind of muted vitality as though he was the only colourful entity in a monochrome room. This, I think, is why I am able to recall everything about him that day. You could feel it, whatever it was, around him. He knew. And perhaps we should have as well.

At his memorial service, his parents said that from a young age he was always pondering the meaning of life, that he was loved, that if he was having these thoughts, no one ever knew. At the same memorial service, a young lady sitting behind me whispered that she was “just trying to make light of the situation” as she chattered without pause to her friend before the start of the service.

It is the thought that we, in that class, may well have been the last group of people to see him before he ended his life that prompted me to make this video. It is the fact that people rarely ever know when a person is having these thoughts, no matter how much they love them. It is the absolute outrage that anyone could possibly think that they should “make light of” suicide, let alone at the memorial service of someone who was lost to it. It is because maybe if, as a society, we started talking about suicide more openly, people would be more comfortable seeking help.

In addition, it is because even when we do talk about it, it is almost always shrouded by an inability to treat each instance as unique as the individuals that are involved. Each person that struggles with suicide experiences it in a highly personal manner. I do not think saying, “Don’t do it. You are loved” will help a middle-aged man who is suicidal because he is alone in a new city. “It is selfish” will not help the abused teenager trying to cope with a domineering and violent household. “There is so much to live for” would not have helped my disillusioned classmate.

Perhaps in order to help our classmates, friends, relatives, neighbours, sad strangers at a bus station, we need to extend some kindness. Anything to give the person a reason to hold on for one more day, or even one more hour. It is through one small step at a time that we make it across the bridge over rough water. It is through actually beginning to build the bridge that we start the process. Hiding behind cliché will not help.

With that in mind, this video is a fictional piece in the style of the diary entry of a person that, at a crucial moment of decision, has decided to take a step back and hold on for one more day. It explores the theme from the individual’s point of view and will hopefully encourage anyone in a similar state of mind to find something that can help them hold on while they work on taking small steps to overcome it.

 

 

photo credit: chris@APL via photopin cc

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About me:

“Hello! I’m a student from Trincity, Trinidad, and I love to write, read and sometimes draw. I would live in the cinema if I had the choice. I enjoy learning about as many different cultures as I possibly can.

“My dream is to become a novelist and through that, to challenge the stereotypes and constraints of society, as well as to provide thought-provoking material to shed new light on life itself. I believe that if we all shine a little light into the world, it will inevitably become a brighter place.”

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/

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