Statistics show that about 12 out of 100 000 people die as a result of suicide each year. Some people may not know this about me, but I could have been a part of these stats not once, not twice, but three times. Yes, I tried to take my life on three separate occasions, and today I would like to come clean about my suicidal phase, what led me to it and how I overcame it.
To say the least, my childhood wasn’t the best. When my parents were killed in a car accident, life took an unexpected and dark turn. My autobiography barely tells my story. Life was tough. The worst thing about it was that I felt alone. I had no one to talk to. I had to be the grown-up for my baby sister’s sake. I was a 50 year old woman in a 12 year old’s body. My grey hairs multiplied and my spirit suffers many beat downs (as did my body). I held everything in for as long as I could. I tried my best to be a “normal kid”, but my circumstances wouldn’t allow it. As I grew older, I started to realize the predicament I was truly in. Life’s realities soon began to break me, piece by piece…
I think I was 16 or 17 years old when I first tried to take my own life. I was tired of everything, lost, confused and alone. All the negative emotions which I had bottled up inside of me began to overflow, and I thought that I wouldn’t be able to endure anymore of the abuse, hunger and pain. I remember sitting on the bathroom floor in tears. My heart wanted to end my lie, but my body was the real coward. I had a few bottles of pills (most expired) and I began to take them, one by one, sip by sip…
As I look back on my thankfully failed suicide attempts, I am both ashamed that I allowed myself get to that point and proud of the efforts I made to pick myself up. Why did I try to end my life? The reasons were numerous. I couldn’t bare the pain, I had no one to talk to, it felt like the whole world was against me, etc; but the biggest reason is because I wanted to be with my parents again. You see, after their tragic deaths I felt so unsafe and alone. The people whom I thought would take care of me and protect me were the very people who ripped through my flesh and shattered my heart. The only feeling of security and true happiness which I could remember were the days when my parents were still alive. So in some twisted way, I convinced myself that the only way to feel safe and happy again was to join my parents “on the other side” (it had probably made sense to me at the time).
Overcoming the suicidal thoughts did not happen overnight. A multitude of factors came into play. I guess my biggest inspiration was my little sister. Every time I looked at her I remembered how my parents loved their baby so much. I remembered her first day of primary school. She had started school a year early (the smart little princess) and she was tiny. My father had told me to take care of his princess and that he would pick us up as soon as school ended. Every time I thought about that first day of school and every time I heard my parents’ voices in my head telling me to take care of their baby, I knew I had to remain strong for her. Yes, she was my biggest inspiration.
Suicide is a tragedy both for the person who is taking his/or life and the loved-ones. It is also something that people are somewhat ashamed to talk about. The social stigma around suicide silence the ones who are suffering the most. In my culture, family members aren’t permitted to mourn a person who has taken their own life. The corpse is beaten and buried immediately. Naturally, I didn’t have anyone to talk to about my suicidal thoughts and attempts. It was a very dark time in my life. That’s why I urge you to talk about it with someone you trust and to be there for anyone you know who may be going through it. If you don’t have anyone or you know of someone who needs to talk, please feel free to contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org. Your privacy will be respected 100%
Remember that no matter how hard life may seem, there is literally always light at the end of the tunnel. It may not seem like it, but trust me when I say that the light WILL come. It may not necessarily come in the form that you wish for, but it WILL come. Hang in there. You are never alone.
By Stella Mpisi
Stella Mpisi is a Congolese-born (Democratic Republic of Congo) South African author, writer, colourism activist and lover of the African continent.