A text message popped up at 21:36 on Saturday, February 22, 2020. “Did you hear the unfortunate news?” This was from a campus friend, let’s call her Mimi. We had just graduated in September of the previous year. As was the case, we went on our separate ways but had been texting on and off. And now this?
Of course, the message grabbed my attention. I was at home just chilling, listening to the television blub away in the background, scrolling on my phone. I sat up immediately as I eagerly awaited more information.
“Waaah… pole my dear. But Savi amepass juzi... The cause of the death is yet to be confirmed but it is suspected to be suicide.” I’ll translate
“Oh no!... Sorry my dear but Savi passed away the day before yesterday…”
I recall these details with such precision because I still have these messages sitting in my inbox. Obviously, as anyone else would, I was shocked to the bones. I read the text over and over again. I wondered repeatedly if this was the same Savi I knew. I checked people's WhatsApp statuses. Indeed, they echoed the same sentiments.
Savi and I met on campus. We pursued the same course, shared numerous classes and did projects together. In one of those many projects, we ended up at her house for three days, two sleepless and by the time we left, we had a project. She was a great host and an even better friend. So how and why it had to come to this, up to this day, I haven’t come close to finding the answers to these very poignant questions.
September 7 is world suicide prevention day. It’s got to be one of the most meaningful yet sorrowful days. For those of us who keep going despite the tough times, we are reminded of the value of this one life that we have. People will voice their opinions, as was the case on a morning show in a local television station, whether a suicidal individual should be legally prosecuted or whether more needs to be done beyond just hashing out the laws.
The void left by those who go down this road is daunting. Sometimes we can only speculate. Try and recount the last few moments, days, weeks and even months leading up to such a tragedy. The victims of the deceased question themselves and whether they could have done anything to rescue the situation. Then we have experts who’ve studied and continue to study human behaviour in an attempt to answer some of life’s pressing questions.
Critical Counselling Psychologist Yvonne Gache is one of them. She is passionate about mental health. In fact, she describes herself as a mental health advocate and activist. Yours truly had an enlightening conversation with her. She offered insights into the triggers of mental health issues as well as solutions to tackling these problems.
Societal expectations can drive people crazy. Someone somewhere has drawn up a list of things you should do before your 30th birthday and if you fall short, they tag a huge banner of failure on your head. And they constantly remind you of it. What do you think this does? It makes them feel worthless and lose hope. As much as we say that people should have a hang of their lives, remember there are external factors that can greatly inhibit your ability to achieve something. Like Yvonne said during my chat with her, “At times, people are just having normal reactions to abnormal situations.”
What’s the fix? Again, I will bank on a line from Yvonne. “The problem is the problem, the individual is never the problem.” Always look beneath the surface to find out what’s really going on. Ever heard of the phrase, there is more than meets the eye? Exactly. Go deeper before you draw those conclusions. You just never know what people are going through.
One last thought from yours truly. They often say, check in on your “strongest” friend. Yeah, that’s true. The strong friend is the one whose shoulder everyone leans on. You run to them whenever things are going south for you. They are always there. Have you ever thought that they also have their own issues going on? Perhaps they are good at masking their emotions or don’t know how to express them. Once in a while, be the one to provide that support for them.
Note: Savi is a fictitious name used for demonstrative purposes.
Read More: When Death Snatches Your Loved One Away