On September 10 each year, the world observes World Suicide Prevention Day to raise awareness on suicide prevention. This year, I find myself thinking that one of the main contributors to suicide is bottling up the things that burden us. I feel that it is important for each one of us to have at least one person that we trust enough to share our deepest struggles. As a result, I create time occasionally to listen to people’s issues and I can assure you we all have issues, regardless of our status in life, education or location. Besides listening to people, I love to tell my story and the main reason I do so is because I have learnt amazing lessons from each of my life experiences and can use some of the lessons to encourage others.
I recently watched an interview of a very accomplished Supreme Court judge in Kenya who revealed how tormenting her childhood was. Growing up, her family lived in a plush neighbourhood in Nairobi and they didn’t lack anything material. According to her, what they lacked in their home was love and peace. Her father was an alcoholic and a very violent one at that. They never went to bed before their dad arrived because they had to ‘rescue’ their mother. I didn’t watch the end of the interview but my greatest take away from what I saw was that her home experience is what led her to study law in order to save other people. She realised that there are things in life such as crime and violence that do not discriminate between the rich and the poor. Looking at this woman now, she could have chosen to create a different story. Considering her wealthy background, she could have told the world (and successfully so) how hers was the perfect home. She could have picked silence as an option but no, she chose to use her childhood experience to encourage others and to let them know that they are not the only ones facing challenges.
As we grow older, we may have some things in our past that we do not want to be discovered; they could be family or personal struggles. If such things are not dealt with, they catch up with us and they could lead to depression which in turn could lead to suicidal thoughts, followed by an attempt or actual act of taking one’s life.
This year’s World Suicide Prevention Day has left me with a commitment to become a better listener. In this fast moving world, there is a deficit of listeners because we are all either talking or surfing. Life is not always easy but having access to social support and help when we need it makes life worthwhile. No situation is permanent and in every situation, there is a potential lesson, it depends on how one chooses to see it. According to World Health Organisation, nearly 800,000 people commit suicide around the world every year. We better give each other hope and a reason to see beyond today.
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