Dear Shakespeare

Shakespeare – you taught the modern world – in your perfect prose and bitter sonnets; your emotional scripts; your flawless hand, intricate form and written words – about all there is in a world of betrayal, love, lies and most of all – tragedy.

They say a person dies every few seconds. Does it matter to you if that person doesn’t matter to you? Do you care about that person’s family? Do you care why that person died? How they died? Do you shudder when someone is murdered? Do you tear up when someone dies in a film? Have you ever lost someone who meant more to you than you will ever know?

It doesn’t matter whether you answered yes or no.

I would never wish death on anyone.

During the past week, there have been a lot of injuries and fatalities on the train tracks in Sydney. As a result, trains have been delayed on all lines across the entire network, making people late for work. Across all social networks, there were complaints from several people – none of which can be helped, really. It might be selfish to not even give a thought to the person who was injured and only care for the meeting you’re going to be late for, and one might argue that in the greater scheme of things, if you’re late to one meeting it isn’t going to kill you – but what is so disgusting, so inconsiderate and even more selfish is the amount of people who bring up the topic of suicide and say the most horrible things about those who have died.

It almost always goes along the lines of questioning why you could possibly want to kill yourself, and why you could not think about the people around you.

I just want to tell these people that they know next to nothing about how these people feel. If they did, they would not be saying anything like what they were saying. Depression is a cruel illness that I – as a sufferer in recovery – would never, ever wish on anyone. A lot of people are born with clinical depression, and no amount of consolation will improve their condition. It is a mental illness which not every person understands. It is a condition of the brain that causes these people to feel suicidal no matter how hard they try.

I will now share three stories.

A girl with clinical depression. Several years ago, my friend shared with me the story of a girl he knew. This girl had suffered from clinical depression for at least twenty years. Medication after medication, treatment after treatment, was not entirely successful in curing her. She could not recall a single day in her life when she was happy. Day after day she was miserable. She attempted suicide several times, but all these times, her friends fought to find where she ran to, and saved her life. They continually stayed by her side and were her light of hope.

Kurt Cobain, frontman of Nirvana, suffered from depression. In one of his journals (found in Journals by Kurt Cobain), he wrote about his depression at the age of thirteen. He had tied himself down to the train tracks with rope, weighing himself down with bricks. His family life, given his parents’ divorce and his failure at school – he just wanted it all to end. Fate had his side, and after waiting for a train to run him over for long period of time, one finally came – but instead of running him over, took the track next to him.

The girl who was bullied. My friend went to school with a timid girl who was constantly bullied and made fun of. She caught the train to and from school and every day at the train station she was teased, spat on, and physically pushed around by a group of boys bigger than her. Unable to defend herself, one day she could no longer take the pushing and shoving, and threw herself in front of a train as it passed. She was instantly killed.

It doesn’t matter if people live on to survive suicide attempts. If they succeed, someone out there, some cruel, cold-hearted and shallow-minded person out there is going to leave a bitchy comment on their memorial Facebook page. A couple of years ago, just like the girl in my last story, a girl hung herself after a group of girls at her school bullied her. At the memorial service the school held for her, these girls laughed during the service and continued to be disrespectful beyond her death.

Many a time I’ve heard of people who have attempted suicide by jumping on the train tracks, but have survived. At my mum’s workplace, there is always a man in his thirties or forties, an amputee with one leg – just coming to say hello. As a result of being hit by a train, he lost his leg and suffered brain damage, but still has the heart to interact in a friendly and curious manner to the females at the beauty counters. He survived, and though he is pretty much homeless, his spirit breaks the heart of anyone who knows his story.

Last night, I heard that my aunt’s brother – he is not my first uncle, but a slightly distant uncle – was killed by a train. He was 52 years old, the father of two autistic sons. Yesterday afternoon, he was running after one of them, making sure he wouldn’t get away. To witnesses, it seemed that he was going to board the train.

He fell onto the tracks – whether it was through the gap between the train and the platform, or straight on the tracks, I don’t know – and was dragged a certain distance by the train. The fall had immediately wounded him and knocked him unconscious. He later died. This tragedy has left our entire family upset. In our family, everyone is family, no matter how distant.

My aunt had lost one of her other brothers when he died at high school age.

It’s so heartbreaking that this accident has happened. It’s upsetting, it’s sad, and it just makes me think about how short life is, how unfair it can be, how fleeting it is. Shakespeare wrote of Romeo and Juliet, of Hamlet, of Macbeth. Tragedy, no matter what it is, is tragedy; and death is always tragedy, no matter how imminent.

So next time you hear about suicide, about fatalities on train tracks, don’t ever think you know. Don’t think you know how that person felt. Don’t immediately think someone attempted suicide. Don’t think it couldn’t have been an accident. Don’t.

You just don’t know.

Comments on this post

I don’t have any adequate words to go with this post except for a simple “yes” and a little pixel: (Y).

Sometimes not many words is better – “less is more”, according to Charmin toilet paper.

Hope your day is going well. ♥

… No idea why (Y) didn’t work. If it works after this, okay. /bash

I remember the first time I heard people remarking how selfish, how stupid, how pathetic, etc a person is for thinking/attempting suicide…it really made me think how cruel people can be. I can understand why that person may feel that it’s a selfish act, but aren’t they just as selfish for forcing a living being who is in constant pain to continue living when clearly, they do not want to? It is an illness and people brush it off like “it’s gonna get better if you stop thinking so negatively.”

I’m not saying the person SHOULD kill themselves because maybe it can get better, but if they’re in so much pain…people should really be considerate of that. Saying how stupid or selfish they are is not gonna help. I do view severe depression similar to a person who is in constant pain and is on life support.

“At the memorial service the school held for her, these girls laughed during the service and continued to be disrespectful beyond her death.” That’s really sick…

I think people in general are so wrapped up in their own life and fighting to survive in this world, that they intentionally block off anything that doesn’t physically involve them. Everything is constantly moving and people work hard to catch up, but we never really stop to think, but when we do stop to think, it becomes a tragedy.

I definitively think to understand suicide you need to have a qualitative insight into the meanings around the tragedy, rather than just counting the statistics. /oh

I’ve heard of a lot of train deaths and how popular they are in terms of suicide.

My friend committed suicide, but still no one knows why.

First and foremost, I’m so sorry for your family’s losses and all the lives lost due to depression and train accidents.

I have never personally met anyone who severely suffered from depression, but I really wish more people could try to understand it and what it does to people. A lot of times, people say, “Oh, I’m so depressed that I got an F on this test!” or something relative and I’m like, that’s definitely NOT depression. Too many people use it too simply and not in the right way – like the word rape. “I raped the replay button.” – Seriously? Do you even know what rape is and what it does to people?

Anyway, people can be so inconsiderate sometimes. : I can be too, but I catch myself and I think about the bigger picture. Some people don’t do that. They keep going on complaining and whining as if it’s ever going to change anything.

I’ve suffered depression my entire life and attempted suicide many times. I unfortunately don’t have a lot of people around me to make me feel better, but I’m still suffering and every day is a challenge for me to get through the day. I know what it’s like to be in that dark hole that you can’t crawl out of. I don’t appreciate cruelty people have spread about depression and suicide. It makes me sad.

But a lot of times people focus on the victims and not the bullies too. They are victims as well. How else would they get that behavior? I think (and know) they are treated someway to gain that behavior and pin it on someone else. It’s a vicious cycle that should be fixed, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s not possible to fix everything.

I feel for anyone on the two sides. Even myself, who has been bullied and tortured most of her life, felt bad for those who bullied me because I wonder what kind of life they have to want to take their anger out on me.

That actually disgusts me that people are so quick to judge based on deaths and suicide. It’s nobodys business quite frankly, as you said ; they have no idea what the other person is going through! People make me sad. How can we be so ignorant? Ohwell, its a part of life i guess. Your writing is impecable i must say xD

The opening to this post was beautiful. Thank you so much for writing this… Earlier this year one of my friends committed suicide. And it turned into a messy drama as people argued over “what happened” and “who knew her better” and it just made me want to rip my hair out. Dx

All the more reason why it’s so important for everyone, even the introverted, to form personal social networks and communities of other people to lean on. Because my school is so academically challenging, the school officials preach to all the students, telling them to reach out to each other and that having friends and a social life is as important as studying.

The amount of stigma associated with a mental illness is unbelievable. Someday, the false information will disappear, and someday, the bitchy teenagers who bullied others will grow into adults who regret their actions. But it’ll take people like you and Liza who understand to fight for that future. I know that you will, and I’ll do my little part on my corner of the Internet too.

In the words of Tumblr: bless this post.

My aunt’s first husband committed suicide by jumping in front of a train. My cousin tried numerous times, I believe. I was never close to either (never even met the former), but it’s still touched briefly upon my life.

Maybe it is true that some people are unable to see ‘the point’ of suicide, so as to speak, but to disrespect the dead like those girls you mentioned is just wrong. The scale of pain you would have to feel to even consider ending your life, let alone go through with it, is simply unimaginable.

Ironic that those people complain about the victim being selfish. Pot. Kettle. Black.

I mean, what would it take for them to realise that someone had just died?

We’re all so fragile.

All three of your stories broke my heart, but especially Kurt’s because of the image it brought to mind. You know, just lying there, ready to die, and he was so young.

Unafraid, perhaps.

I mean, that’s probably what saddens me the most about suicide. That it is seen as the one solution and can be so desirable that maybe they don’t care enough to even fear what is coming.

Maybe it’s just me, but I find that heartbreaking.

I love you. ♥

I think it’s only coincidence you wrote this blog the day before I wrote my memoir for my brother, who would have been twenty on the 26th. He was killed on July 23rd in 2011, and his body was found on the highway. He had been struck by a vehicle of some sort. That’s all we really know.

He was a sensitive guy. He didn’t certain subjects very lightly, and I think he was just very sad for most of his life, specifically through high school. He had a history of drugs and substance abuse and it was really, really bad the months and weeks up until his death.

When the police came to our house some weeks after he died, they gave us the things they found on his person, as well as the death certificate and the layout of where he was found. There was a bridge a few yards away from him. It could have been suicide. I don’t know.

I don’t know if anyone knows if he intended to end his life, if he was high at the time, or if it was just an accident. There’s no way any of us will know, I don’t think, and some people might find that unnerving–not knowing how a relative or friend died–but I find it comforting. It’s not something I want to. Ignorance is bliss, right? and the mindset he had before he was killed is something to which I’d like to be ignorant.

Because of his death, though, I’ve come to accept death. Some people say there’s no certainty in life, but I disagree. We are all certain to die. If we live, we must die, just as we exhale when we inhale. But because of that acceptance, I respect it so much more. I understand people’s views on death and people dying, whether it’s murder, suicide, accident, or just “their time”. It’s sad because it’s an ending and we can’t be certain if there’s another beginning.

Up until my brother’s death, I hadn’t known much of it. There had never been personal experiences with death, aside from suicidal thoughts and intentions from my depression. I have some very strong opinions on suicide, and I do believe it’s selfish, but not in a negative way. To me, suicide is a very, very personal thing. It’s all about the victim. I can’t understand when people think that someone killed themselves to spite someone, or to intentionally harm anyone other than themselves. I mean, maybe it’s not so much selfish as self-centered. It hurts me to hear about suicide and all that, because I really do understand it. The walls that they put up. The hopelessness. The feeling that there is no other option.