During my first semester at Wesley College of Education, I received a call from my mum one day after lectures whilst I was resting. She called to inform me of the death of a relative. I call him an elder brother because he had stayed with us since the first time he came from the upper east region to Obuasi when I was at lower primary till he moved out to his own room when I was about to complete basic school.
By the time I completed senior high school, he had built his own four room apartment at Abompekrom New Site close to where my family was living. I stayed with him in his rented room before I completed junior high school and part of my senior high school days.
When I completed senior high school, he gave me one of the rooms in his house to live in. I was then a pupil teacher. He had managed to put up his house through artisanal small scale mining. When I rented my own room after I have taught as a pupil teacher for a year, his wife went after another man, taking along some of the documents of his house. I remember receiving a call one Saturday morning from him asking me to come over to his residence. I went and he showed me the remainder of the documents of his house. I looked through and assured him there was nothing to worry about.
He felt very sick afterwards and grew very lean. Everything was going south. After some few months, he got better and looked energetic again. He was naturally tall and well built due to the nature. We used to call him Jackie Chan. I remember chatting with him one day and an issue of one of our tribesmen trying to commit suicide popped up. I still remember the anger in his tone when he said. “…he should have been beaten even before taken to the police station for trying to hang himself.”
‘’What happened to him’’, I asked my mum?
‘’ He hanged himself in his room ’’, she replied.
I remained speechless for 30 seconds. I hanged up.
What? Suicide? No, that’s not my ‘Jackie Chan’. He can’t do that. What could possibly be worrying him? He has his own house. He was able to survive his divorce. He was able to survive that sickness. What was wrong with him? These and many more questions kept racing through my mind.
Many people in better conditions than my brother have also committed suicide. I learnt of a lawyer committing suicide in his office and a man jumping from a storey building to his death. Have you ever at one point in your life felt that the earth could open and swallow you up? The feeling isn’t different from the ones felt by those who committed suicide? Anything, no matter how irrelevant you might think it is, can cause someone to commit suicide.
Have you ever taken a big loan from a financial institution for a project and the project is incurring more debt rather than producing profit and the lenders are also on your neck? How did you feel? Have you ever shared someone’s secret with another person you trust and that person turns around and informs the person who told you the secret? How did you feel? The difference between those who killed themselves in similar situations and you are the people you spoke to coupled with how relevant you think you are on this planet. All the people who have committed suicide could have been alive if they had trusted one good person and felt they were loved irrespective of the conditions they found themselves.
Sometimes, I asked myself what I could have done to prevent my brother from committing suicide. Was there something he was keeping inside him and was looking for someone to open up to? Each and every one of us has a duty of helping to solve the suicide menace in our country.
Doctors and nurses maltreat patients. Teachers shout and beat students at the least provocation. Lenders run after borrowers into every hole they enter ready to get their monies back. Banks have fewer chairs for the many customers they are attending to, leaving many standing for hours to deposit or withdraw money. There is no love in the country. No provisions for disabled persons. Politicians are looting the country leaving the poor to grow poorer. I listens to Lady Prempeh’s song “ODO NO WO HE” (Where is the love?), and I always ask the same question again, WHERE IS THE LOVE?
Pastors don’t care whether you have money or not, they will try to convince and intimidate you till you give out all you have. You can’t win a case at the court if you can’t pay well. Someone should tell me where the love we preach about has gone. God and posterity won’t forgive us if another soul is lost due to our negligence to show love.
The solution to suicide is in our own hands. Be good to everybody you meet whether you know them or not, who knows, you might be saving a soul from committing suicide. Let’s not wait for the suicide notes. They are memories of our failure to do the right thing. We can make things right now.
It is not the poison, the height or the rope that kills, it is the pain we can’t let go of, the shame we can’t live with and the feeling of hopelessness and loneliness. If you have life, you can always start over again. Say NO to suicide! Start showing Love! We don’t want any more suicide notes. We need you!