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.