ATTEMPTS AT RESPONSES TO THE QUESTIONS RAISED
- In attempting to answer the questions raised some samples of heart-breaking suicide notes would assist. There is something about the letters that these people left prior to taking their own lives, which have the power to stop someone abruptly. These are the last thoughts and concerns of people who felt unable to carry on with life. A large number of them are not the eloquent letters portrayed in fiction or on the television. But they are all powerful and upsetting. Read on.
- The suicide note of Bill Zeller. I have the urge to declare my sanity and justify my actions, but I assume I’ll never be able to convince anyone that this was the right decision. Maybe it’s true that anyone who does this is insane by definition, but I can explain my reason. Since I’ve never spoken to anyone about what happened to me, people would likely draw the wrong conclusions.
My first memories as a child are of being raped, repeatedly. This has affected every aspect of my life. This darkness, which is the only way I can describe it, has followed me like a fog, but at times intensified and overwhelmed me, usually triggered by a distinct situation. I feel like I’m trapped in a contaminated body that no amount of washing will clean. In kindergarten I couldn’t use the bathroom and would stand petrified whenever I needed to, which started a trend of awkward and unexplained social behavior. The damage that was done to my body still prevents me from using the bathroom normally. Three to four nights a week I have nightmares about what happened. It makes me avoid sleep and constantly tired, because sleeping with what feels like hours of nightmares is not restful. I’m reminded every morning of what was done to me and the control it has over my life.
I tried romantic relationships, the computer programming, the gym, interacting with people as well as alcohol and drugs to let me escape the darkness. It would always find me later. Alcohol and other drugs provided a way to ignore the realities of my situation. It was easy to spend the night drinking and forget that I had no future to look forward to. I never liked what alcohol did to me, but honestly, it was better than facing my existence. Relationships didn’t work. No one I dated was the right match, and I thought that maybe if I found the right person it would overwhelm him. Part of me knew that finding the right person wouldn’t help, so I became interested in girls who obviously had no interest in me. For a while I thought I was gay. Later I told people I was gay as I wasn’t attracted to men and kept finding myself interested in girls. If being gay wasn’t the answer, then what was? I convinced myself that it wasn’t the darkness at all, but rather my sexual orientation, because this would give me control over why things didn’t feel “right”. In spite of these, the darkness will always be with me.
I grew up in a house where love was proxied through a God, I could never believe in. A house where the love of music with any sort of a beat was literally beaten out of me, a house full of hatred and intolerance, run by two people who were experts at appearing kind and warm when others were around, parents who tell an eight-year-old that her grandmother is going to Hell because of this or that or parents who claim not to be racist but then talk about the horrors of miscegenation. I could list hundreds of other examples, but it’s tiring.
Since being kicked out, I’ve interacted with them in relatively normal ways. I talk to them on the phone like nothing happened. I’m not sure why. Maybe because I like pretending, I have a family. Maybe I like having people I can talk to about what’s been going on in my life. Whatever the reason, it’s not real and it feels like a sham. I should have never allowed this reconnection to happen especially with my mom. Still, I cannot intellectually justify this decision, knowing how much it will hurt her.
Maybe my ability to take my own life, knowing how much pain it will cause, shows that I am a monster who doesn’t deserve to live. All I know is that I can’t deal with this pain any longer and I’m truly sorry I couldn’t wait until my family and everyone I knew died so this could be done without hurting anyone. For years I’ve wished that I should die.
To those of you who have shown me love, thank you for putting up with all my shittiness and moodiness and arbitrariness. I was never the person I wanted to be. Maybe without the darkness I would have been a better person, maybe not. I did try to be a good person, but I realize I never got very far. I’m sorry for the pain this might cause. I really do wish I had another option. I hope this letter explains why I needed to do this. If you can’t understand this decision, I hope you can at least forgive me.
- Suicide note of Cheyenne Allison.
To the man and woman who adopted a helpless child when she was brought to them;
To the teachers who never really cared and ignored my problems;
To my fellow “sluts”, “misfits”, et al, who will no doubt receive more abuse upon my passing, as my tormentors will no longer have me to push around;
To those who never cared, never spoke, probably never knew my name;
To the one true friend, whose caring was the only thing that prevented this even from happening sooner;
To the God, if he does exist, who chose to play a cruel joke on me when he placed me where he did and surrounded me with so many uncaring faces.
To all of you, I say goodbye.
I am leaving a world to which I never truly belonged or fit in. Do not weep or mourn for me. I say this not because I expect to be missed, but to allow those who truly did not care go on with their lives with a clean conscience and dry eyes. I know you don’t want to weep for me. Don’t but I do ask you to listen to the final words of a girl who has taken charge of her own destiny.
Perhaps my parents might feel something inside which causes them to shed tears. They may pretend that it’s sorrow for their “loss” but I hope it is something else. Perhaps sorrow for bringing a child into this world when they really didn’t have the time or desire to raise her. I wasn’t the product of love, born of a desire to prepare another human being to grow and lead the human race. I was merely the next acquisition, the next task and the next project on their significant list of things. No child should be brought into this world for the mere purpose of being just another possession. I am not an asset to be catalogued and listed on your tax forms beside your house and car or fought over during your divorce processes. I am a human being. I’m sorry that it took this to make you realize that. If you don’t, then I’m even sorrier.
What about my teachers? Will they be sorry to see another student become a statistic? Certainly, the administration and Principal will mourn, as my death will not reflect well on them as an institution. I apologize for making the statistics for your administration worse. I don’t expect your false sympathies.
My fellow students, especially those who made a more significant impact on my life, I know better than to expect my tormentors to mourn. Those who belittled me, if I failed to include you, I guess that’s not entirely accurate. James Scott, you used me for your pleasure and threw me away humiliating me in front of many other classmates. I must single out Baylee Bevins and Tylah Forbes for their tremendous dedication to the cause of destroying any shred of self-esteem I might dare to foster. Why can’t you accept the things that make other people different rather than insisting everyone conforms to your will? Sure, some did offer friendly gestures. Wilson often greets me and ask about my life.
I can only conceive of one person in this world who will truly be sad at my parting. Charlotte, my best friend, you earlier talked me out of this decision three times. That is why I did not tell you anything this time and why I do this alone in secret. I wish you were coming with me on this great adventure, into the final frontier. Where ever I go, yours will be the one face I carry with me. The one soul I will miss. Yours is also the only forgiveness I ask and beg for as I depart from this life. I love you always.
I do not know if what awaits me when I get down off this rope. Will there be a void? Or will I come face to face with God? I just don’t care anymore. If you’re anything like your people, I wouldn’t want to know you. Even if I could know you were different, well, I still reject you. You have left your “followers” to treat people like me poorly. You have allowed so many of the people you “love”, including me, to suffer. You want me to trust you with my life? I don’t want to spend eternity with a deity like you or with the company you keep.
As my final moments tick away, I wonder what impact these words will create. It depends. I doubt whether school administration will want such venom spoken publicly about their lack of caring. Will students pause and pay attention to the hurting hearts around them? And even if they do, will it be a temporary salve for their egos, to convince themselves they’re really not bad people or will real change happen?
Farewell forever. I am going to another place. Where, I do not know. But logic dictates that it can only be an improvement. Perhaps my passing will only prove a footnote in a school yearbook. Then again, perhaps the sacrifice of one might bring hope to others. If my death makes life for one person a little more bearable or a little more enlightened, do I really die in vain?
- Leelah Alcorn. If you are reading this, it means that I have committed suicide and obviously failed to delete this post from my queue. Please don’t be sad, it’s for the better. The life I would’ve lived isn’t worth living in… because I’m transgender. I could go into detail explaining why I feel that way, but this note is probably going to be lengthy enough as it is. To put it simply, I feel like a girl trapped in a boy’s body.
- Suicide Note of Wendy Orlean Williams. The act of taking my own life is not something I am doing without a lot of thought. I don’t believe that people should take their own lives without deep and thoughtful reflection over a considerable period of time. I do believe strongly, however, that the right to do so is one of the most fundamental rights that anyone in a free society should have. For me, much of the world makes no sense, but my feelings about what I am doing ring loud and clear to an inner ear and a place where there is no self, only calm.
- On 31 of March 2021, Peter Diyouh reported of a 16-year-old Form 4 student (call him Makombe Peter), of Baptist High school Nyanama in Uganda, who committed suicide as a birthday gift to his mother on her birthday. ‘On today’s special day, I want you to be the happiest ever. Everyday you used to say that happiness left you the day I was born. You told me dad left because of me. So today, I want to change things. I want you to be very happy and live as if I never existed. You told me you’d never look at me with love but always loved you and admire you as the best mom on earth. I hope one day you will think of me, hope in heaven you will finally hold me and kiss me. The best gift I could ever give you is leaving your life as you’ve always wanted, wishing I was never born. I love you mom. Happy birthday’.
- There are a couple of other suicide notes which imprints themselves on one’s memory. In 2019, a sergeant of the Nigerian Army hung himself in Mambilla Barrack due to family problems. He accused his wife of interfering with his job. Similarly, in 2020, a private soldier serving at OPERATION LAFIYA DOLE shot himself and left a note which indicated that he was wrongly accused of stealing a cell phone. He made effort for his superiors to hear his own side of the story but they refused to listen to him. Coupled with battle fatigue at the theatre, he decided to call it quit. In 2018, 2 incidences of suicide occurred in Mogadishu Cantonment where a soldier hung himself because the wife threatened to end the union. The second soldier while the other committed the act without leaving a note. One touchy letter was written by a university graduate at Karu. She had written a letter of thanks to her parents and she apologized for not being the daughter that she felt that they wished for. Her clarity of thought, her use of language was one saddening. Reading her words felt like an invasion of her privacy while still alive at that time. All of these ‘final’ letters and many more are heart breaking.
COMMENTS AND THE WAY FORWARD TO REDUCE SUICIDE INCIDENTS
- Suicidal thinking can happen to anyone. Although the WHO posits that there is a strong connection between trauma, mental illness and suicide but some incidents are not linked to health issues. To reduce the scourge of suicide in Nigeria the federal and states government need to establish Suicide Prevention Centres with sufficient counselors and psychologists. Government and private institutions as well as hospitals could be mandated to also create counseling departments in their medical facilities to cater for suicide prevention.
- As stated earlier, the Nigerian Navy operates the Divisional System. Depending on the Unit’s size, every ship; be it floating or stone frigate, is divided into departments. Each department have Divisional Officers (DO). As a routine, DOs meet weekly with personnel of respective Divisions to appraise the performance of the Department or Division. Such meetings afford DOs some level of intimacy with the men. It also builds, confidence, promotes understanding, mutual interactions and trust among members of the department such that any noticeable decline in the performance or behaviour of a member it could be timely addressed through counseling to nib the problem in the bud. The divisional system has rescued many Nigerian navy personnel who had contemplated suicide as an option to end their existence.
- The role of family members, friends or peer groups in reducing the spate of suicide is indisputable. The notes written by Cheyenne Allison and Makombe Peter indicate that their parents did not plan to have them. This informed the lack of attention and care given to them. Worse still is the mother of Makombe who constantly traumatised her son with regrets that happiness left her the day he was born, moreover, his dad left because of him. Meaning that he was not needed and he has been the source of sorrow and pain in her life. Bill Zeller expected the home to be her last hope but it turned out to be a torture chamber. The parents were not friendly such that she could not disclose to them that she was raped at the age of 8 years. Zeller also noticed that, her parents harbored hatred against other people which she could not accept. Family members particularly parents, should to be parents indeed in order to reduce the scourge of suicide in their families especially young adults.
- In schools, teachers and management staff should be meticulous in observing their students. Teacher Adetola and the school management would probably have lost Yusuf but for the careful attention paid in his attitudinal change and declining academic performance. Thus, it behooves on teachers and the management staff that superintend over institutions and organizations including communities to establish centres or branches where staff or fellow countrymen with emotional challenges could go for counseling sessions. These mechanisms if made practicable would effectively curb or reduce the scourge of increasing suicide incidents among citizens.