IT’S easy for any one of us to say we never expected someone to take his or her own life. Especially when that dearly departed happens to be someone we knew very well, the pain and anguish seem intolerable. Reminiscing the most recent moment we shared with that person seems to provide no clues that the departed had any intention of choosing the suicide route over seeking help and saving a precious life.
For whatever reason, people seem to be choosing suicide as their ticket out of this life as easy as falling leaves. Be those reasons economic, social or religious, people are somehow learning that following the steps to recovering from pain are just not worth the effort and time. Many have also lost faith in the “being my brother/sister’s keeper” system which sometimes offers only superficial and short-term support.
But we really need to pay much more attention when someone is reaching for a lifeline. As precious as life is, it can slip through our fingers in one heartbeat simply because we were too busy to at least lend an ear to a friend or relative in need of comfort. The saying “The Lord does not give us more than we can bear” really gets tested when people searching for real answers find themselves second-guessing their options to remain alive.
I would definitely be crowned a hypocrite if I pointed a judgmental finger at anyone who has ever attempted or went through the act of suicide. Ashamedly so, I’ve contemplated and even attempted the forbidden act. To this day, I have never regretted stopping in my tracks as a seventeen-year-old high school graduate without a job growing up in an abusive home and asking myself whether I was really doing the right thing. Even in my adult years, there were moments when the easy route seemed best. But that’s the thing about taking shortcuts: they often lead you nowhere but off the deep end or to destinations you shouldn’t prepare for, anyway.
The past eight years, I would say, have been the most rewarding of my life. I have been able to catch dreams I thought would have fallen through my fingers and met some of the most inspiring, influential and loving people on the planet. Hardly a day goes by without me reflecting on how much of a mess I would have made of life – and their lives – had I gone through with the unthinkable in the past. As I said earlier, I’m hardly the person to judge when my finger was almost stained after coming dangerously close to voting my way out of life through my selfish thoughts.
When I heard that soca artiste, Valentine “Mubarak” Moise had committed suicide last Thursday, my initial recollection was seeing him speeding past the Vigie roundabout about a week earlier. Up to that point, I had no idea that he owned a car. But what I did know was that he possessed a vibrant spirit and was always in a positive frame of mind.
My earliest memories of Mubarak date back to Mainstage Jazz five years ago when he approached me at Pigeon Island National Landmark and told me that after performing with another local artiste, he wound up in some trouble backstage. According to Mubarak, after finishing the set, he was approaching a big name foreign artiste backstage to greet him when security told him he couldn’t. Since he had VIP access, he told me, he felt “dissed” by the security guard’s actions. I told him that maybe someone was just following protocol. But Mubarak was visibly ticked off nonetheless. The situation got so out of hand that the female artiste he backed up that day issued a press release the following week dissociating him from the track they had recorded.
On the soca stage, Mubarak’s talent shone through. The man had energy, probably ignited by his early days as a track star. He even owned his own barbershop and was considered a cut above many others in the business. He always seemed motivated to me and seemed even busier to the extent that he never came by with that flash drive to get his photos I had taken. So that’s what saddens many of us when people who seem to have it all together just break into pieces. We never really know someone’s story until we try on their shoes.
I am definitely not a professional when it comes to mental health issues. However, I’m sensible enough to know that whenever someone is suffering from a bout of depression or stress, they really do need someone to at least speak to. Not necessarily a professional, but someone who can listen to the outpouring of emotions and words they want to unleash. Pointing them in the direction of professional help – albeit important — becomes secondary.
Just Tuesday afternoon, I ran into a good friend of mine who claims to be at his wit’s end as far as his life is concerned. On the surface, he looks like he has it all together, especially since he never seems to go a day without being gainfully employed. He, too, is second-guessing his existence. I certainly will not breach our confidence by divulging any other bit of information save to say that I’m checking in on him regularly to keep him in good spirits and to advise him to seek professional help – even if I have to hold his hand walking those steps. Like many other people, I prefer birthday parties and anniversaries over funerals any day.
It seems so hard to do but putting pride aside and checking into the Crisis Centre, Division of Human Services and Family Affairs or a church for professional guidance is about as simple and life-saving as it gets when rough times seem too much to bear. Find someone you can trust with your problems. Reach out to that encouraging friend on WhatsApp of Facebook inbox and ask them for guidance. Above all available options, choose to preserve life.
Let’s face it, people. Times are tough and even those who previously felt they could not be touched by the harshness of life’s unfolding are beginning to realize that even money cannot guarantee happiness. Therefore, having a positive state of mind and finding the right things to do in the right circle of supportive friends might be the right mix that keeps you on the right track.
As exorbitant as life’s toll on us might be, just try to imagine putting a price to a life that was ended through a moment of weakness that causes further pain and anguish among those who are left to pick up the pieces. If you asked me, paying the price for living might be high but it is certainly cheaper compared to the price we pay when suicide claims the life of someone we love.