When I was 19, a boy I knew died by suicide. We had been in class together at primary school. I was coming up 19 years young myself at the time. This was someone I had known and seen for every weekday at one time in my very young life back then.
Although I had not seen him in years having gone to different high/secondary schools, my mind was quick to flash back to those days in primary school.
John (name changed to protect family), had been one of those kids that was always in trouble. As far as I can remember, John would always be the one on detention, the one punished, the one who had not done his homework, and a whole host of other things. If anything went wrong in class, or there was mayhem, or some trouble somewhere even in the playground, John’s name was always high on the stakes.
I remember once John coming to school with his hair all shaved off. He had been naughty at home. His dad had decided to punish him in the way the dad probably knew best. It only added to the taunts at school. We laughed. He looked odd. A bald headed 11 year old kid sure does, right? Yes, kids can be mean. Now with my adult hindsight, John must have felt pretty low that day – I close my eyes and can imagine him dreading coming to school.
Looking back, even us kids, probably sided with the teachers in school (and his dad), where John was concerned. In our young minds we must have thought, why could John not just conform? Could he not see that if he did as he was told even once, he probably would not have to endure all the pain, punishment, and humiliation? And be so disruptive!!!!
As we were to find out a few short years later, it was not all that simple. John had been found hanging. Rumours spread round like wild fire very quickly. He had left a note. Rumour had it that the note was to his father and step mom, the first I ever heard he had a step parent. Now your troubles are over, his last note read.
John had probably been one of those kids that felt alone all his life. If I really search hard in my heart, I can’t remember John having much friends. Or anyone who you could say was his best friend or even just a buddy! Hands up – I really had not spoken much to him in class.
He did not have any siblings I knew of, but then I never struck a conversation with him. He may have had step or half brothers and sisters. Had John found adjusting to life with his new family members hard? Where was his own mother? I do not have a clue myself. I had assumed… Assumptions, assumptions.
Home life therefore had not been easy for John. School had not offered him any answers either, at least in the primary school we both were.
Not many, even in death remembered John for good. He had been that problem kid that had made problem choices and had chosen a problem way to exit a problem life. We all felt sorry for his dad more. He was the one that had been short changed and robbed of a child.
For us, John had not left us with fond memories! How that sounds unfair now. All we had to speak of, was his shenanigans. As Shakespeare said in Julius Caesar, ‘the evil that men do live after their death’. John’s ‘evil’ was still haunting us. His good, which none of us could pick out, had been interred with his bones. Yes Shakespeare had said that too.
Within a few months or weeks even, news of his death died as unexpectedly as its announcement. No one spoke of John again, ever. In his cold grave, he was probably somersaulting. A young life had gone, and like many in the world who die by suicide, another sad, unfortunate statistic.
It did not help either that traumatic year, that two people I knew very well, all aged 19, had died. One was a relative who unexpectedly fell ill and died within hours. The other was another school friend by drowning. However, John’s death was the one that had left the most sour taste.
Perhaps if John had a friend, perhaps if an adult had detected early signs of a troubled rather than troublesome child, perhaps if John had seen life as getting better one day, perhaps, perhaps…
…I would not be writing this.
(In honor of John).
May 13 2015 is Anti Suicide Day. Remember, every life is precious! Thank you for taking a moment to read this – Please share as much to prevent suicide. THANK YOU.
If you are feeling suicidal or know someone who is, call your Suicide Helpline immediately… NOW!