With some small changes this story is about you!

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Alvin Bernard Charles

Sui­cide is not a blot on any­one’s name; it is a tragedy - Kay Red­field Jami­son

Amal­ad­justed teenager is suf­fer­ing from a cri­sis of con­fi­dence. The teenage years, nor­mally a so­cially awk­ward pe­riod, are prov­ing par­tic­u­larly chal­leng­ing. She does not con­sider her­self at­trac­tive, a per­cep­tion that those around her con­firm. She has few friends. Those whom she con­sid­ers spe­cial ex­ploit her; of­ten in un­speak­able ways. She is not fooled. She plays along be­cause the so­lace of fel­low­ship, even when rooted in de­ceit, pro­vides a re­prieve from an oth­er­wise ut­terly dreary ex­is­tence. Her self-im­age is but a brit­tle re­flec­tion of the opin­ions of oth­ers. Her face painted as by an un­tal­ented graf­fiti artist, she per­forms for the gallery, do­ing and say­ing the vilest things solely for the ap­plause. Her au­di­ence con­sid­ers her a clown. She alone knows how of­ten she weeps. With ev­ery pass­ing day an un­spo­ken and un­ac­knowl­edged sad­ness within her grows un­til it reaches a crescendo of emo­tional obliv­ion. She be­gins to per­suade her­self that nothing could pos­si­bly be worse than the un­ceas­ing pain that is her ex­is­tence.

A young man de­votes him­self to a par­tic­u­lar woman. He holds true to his promise to love, honour, and pro­tect. She is the cen­tre of his uni­verse; the foun­da­tion upon which is built all that he is and hopes to be. He car­ries her pic­ture in his wal­let to proudly dis­play at ev­ery op­por­tu­nity and to keep him in­spired. Then sud­denly it hits him: his de­vo­tion is un­re­quited. He sol­diers on re­gard­less. Delu­sion ab­hors clar­ity; his undy­ing love pro­vides the veil. But while what re­mains un­said main­tains an un­easy bliss­ful façade, this in­con­ve­nient truth leads to a slow but def­i­nite crum­bling of all that he is. In the face of im­pend­ing emo­tional evis­cer­a­tion, he clings to her even tighter; he knows not what he is with­out her. He soon learns: she ut­ters words she can never take back, words he can­not live with. Over­come by de­bil­i­tat­ing heartache, he con­tem­plates a per­ma­nent so­lu­tion.

A mid­dle-aged man strug­gles to pro­vide for his un­em­ployed girl­friend and their chil­dren. Their well-be­ing is what he lives for. He works long hours, en­dures all man­ner of work­place abuses in the best in­ter­ests of his fam­ily, al­most never com­plains. But none of that guar­an­tees his po­si­tion. Shortly af­ter lunch on a day he will never for­get, he is sum­moned by his boss, who thanks him for his ser­vice then wishes him well in what­ever he might un­der­take in the fu­ture. Sud­denly the mid­dle-aged ex­em­plary worker finds him­self un­em­ployed, with little chance of land­ing an­other job any time soon. But he keeps the bad news to him­self. Ev­ery morn­ing he gets out of bed at his usual time, per­forms his usual chores, then says good-bye to his fam­ily. They be­lieve he is headed for his work­place and will re­turn home at the usual time. They have no idea of the hor­ri­ble truth, that for weeks he has been on a fran­tic search for a new job, to no avail. It’s not long be­fore his mea­gre sav­ings have been ex­hausted. He is forced to re­veal the truth to his wife. He turns to his friends and rel­a­tives for help. What they of­fer him is pity; most of them are also un­em­ployed. His ab­sence from home be­comes more and more pre­dictable. His fam­ily knows he’s do­ing the best he can to land a job. What they don’t know is that he can­not see light at the end of the dark tun­nel that rep­re­sents his im­me­di­ate fu­ture; that he is ready to call it a day.

How many of you read­ing this iden­tify with the de­scribed sit­u­a­tions and emo­tions? How many times have you thought there was only one way out of your mis­ery? How many of you have lost a friend or fam­ily mem­ber to sui­cide? Those of you who have may still be ask­ing the same ques­tion: Why? You blame your­self. Why did you not no­tice some­thing that might have warned you of im­pend­ing dis­as­ter? Why were your love and at­ten­tion not enough to pre­vent your child, sib­ling, par­ent or friend from do­ing the un­think­able? What could you have done dif­fer­ently?

Un­der­stand­ing the gen­eral rea­sons why peo­ple com­mit sui­cide is vi­tal to any earnest at­tempt at curb­ing it. The first thing that needs to be un­der­stood is that peo­ple who at­tempt sui­cide do so not be­cause of a de­sire to die, but be­cause they des­per­ately want to stop liv­ing - a cu­ri­ous di­chotomy to be sure, but one that should be un­der­stood in or­der to con­tex­tu­al­ize the spe­cific mo­ti­va­tions.

Some who com­mit sui­cide are psy­chotic and oth­ers are in­flu­enced by psy­chotropic drugs. But by far the most com­mon cause of sui­cide, in Saint Lu­cia and the rest of the world, is de­pres­sion. Acute de­pres­sion is of­ten char­ac­ter­ized by emo­tional an­guish which is so de­bil­i­tat­ing that rem­edy by con­ven­tional means seems im­pos­si­ble. This warps the think­ing of the af­flicted, lend­ing cre­dence to mad­ness.

De­pres­sion is a men­tal disor­der; hence, to be crit­i­cal of a de­pressed in­di­vid­ual who con­tem­plates sui­cide is as ab­surd as de­rid­ing a mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis (MS) suf­ferer for ex­hibit­ing spasms. What these peo­ple need is em­pa­thy and sup­port. The stigma­ti­za­tion which dis­suades those in cri­sis from seek­ing help needs to stop. They need a cri­sis cen­tre manned by more than two coun­sel­lors and open be­yond the hours of 9 am to 5pm – sui­ci­dal thoughts don’t stop at the close of the busi­ness day. Any of us could fall vic­tim; like the nu­mer­ous Saint Lu­cians of all ages and so­cio-eco­nomic per­sua­sions who have been lost.

Ac­cord­ing to the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WHO), ap­prox­i­mately one mil­lion peo­ple com­mit sui­cide ev­ery year - that amounts to one death ev­ery 40 sec­onds. For ev­ery per­son who suc­cess­fully ends their life, at least 20 more fail in their at­tempts.

We lose an av­er­age of ten peo­ple a year to sui­cide in Saint Lu­cia. Thus far this year there have been seven con­firmed cases. The most re­cent sus­pected case took place on Novem­ber 1st of this year when the life of Her­bert Weekes of Bexon came to a pre­ma­ture end when he al­legedly im­bibed a nox­ious sub­stance. If the sus­pi­cion is con­firmed, his death would be the eighth such case in Saint Lu­cia thus far for 2017.

On 8th Oc­to­ber per­haps the most grue­some case oc­curred when the de­cap­i­tated body of Corinth, Gros Islet res­i­dent, Paul Fanus was dis­cov­ered. The month prior there were re­peated calls for prayer and un­spe­cific re­quests for ac­tion by elected of­fi­cials af­ter three sui­cide-re­lated deaths oc­curred: on 18th Septem­ber Lazarus Alexan­der of Grande Ravine, Den­nery suc­cumbed to the an­tecedent in­ges­tion of a nox­ious sub­stance; and a six­teen-year-old May­nard Hill res­i­dent, Nakyshka Edgar, as well as 42-year-old Kurt Ma­son of Gadette, Den­nery were both found sus­pended by the neck on 20th Septem­ber.

In the words of the Amer­i­can TV icon Phil Don­ahue: “Sui­cide is a per­ma­nent so­lu­tion to a tem­po­rary prob­lem.” To those of you who are in a dark place right now, I will not dare ques­tion the au­then­tic­ity of your dark­ness. How­ever, please be­lieve there is a dawn just be­yond the hori­zon!

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