What makes you go over the edge? To want to end it all? Why is it that the pain inside of you is so intense that you choose to take your life? …

“My knees buckled and I fell to the floor….. I kept shouting, No! … No! …” These were heart-rending words of a mother who had received a picture of a noose sent by her son over the phone, through a person associated with that precious eighteen-year-old son of hers. She could not imagine that he would ever attempt to take his life but a frantic call to her home confirmed her worst fears – her son had gone through with his threat.

Even though the post mortem proved that it was an accidental suicide in which he would have tried to stage a suicide but somehow before he could even think of doing otherwise, the noose he constructed had tightened and broken his neck, thus ending his precious life. The vibrant, handsome young man with a cheeky smile that had often lit up the hearts of so many was now a mere memory. All who hear about it or have had the pleasure of knowing him are still in disbelief at the manner in which his life ended.

His death has sadly added to the alarming rise in suicidal deaths among the youth in Sri Lanka – already infamous for a high rate of suicides globally.

Death by suicide is an extremely complex issue that causes pain to hundreds of thousands of people every year around the world. Every suicide is a tragedy. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Global Burden of Disease study estimate that almost 800,000 people die from suicide every year.That’s one person every 40 seconds. Due to the stigma associated with suicide – and the fact that it is illegal in some countries – this figure is also likely to be an underestimate, with some suicides being classified as unintentional injuries. Globally, 1.4% of deaths were from suicide in 2017.There is a ten-fold difference in this share across the world. At the highest end, 5% of deaths in South Korea, 3.9% in Qatar and 3.6% in Sri Lanka were from suicide (2017).

Depression and other mood disorders are widely recognized among the most important risk factors for suicide. A study done by Bertolote and Fleischmann (2002), for instance, provides a systematic review of studies reporting diagnoses of mental disorders for individuals dying from suicide, and discuss the implications of psychiatric diagnosis for suicide prevention.They report that 98% of those who died by suicide had a diagnosable mental disorder. These are conditions that should not be considered a taboo and if detected, can be treated, thereby avoiding fatalities to a greater extent.

A global imperative, summarizes the key risk factors for suicide – as per the WHO’s analysis of available evidence – that have aligned with relevant interventions. Its message is clear: to prevent suicide, interventions need to take place from the universal to the individual level. One-size-fits-all approaches are likely to be ineffective.

While statistics continue to loom we cannot remain stoic, as the statistics may include our very own loved one. Therefore we need to be educated and aware of those around us and do what we can to light that proverbial candle to dispel the darkness that is robbing our youth of living a life of joy, peace and love – a life of abundance.

The aftermath for Davin’s parents

While suicide is a sad end to a potential life, it is also a life-long struggle for those who have to pick up the broken pieces and move forward with a deep-seated ache.

Speaking to Davin’s mom gave me a glimmer of hope, as the family has come through to a greater degree. “In the aftermath of the incident, each of us tried to grapple with our grief on our own but months later we clung to each other and reached out to people who have had similar or worse experiences,” revealed his mom, Shero. She, together with her husband and daughter channeled their grief into a worthy cause – a constructive social media platform called, ‘Davin. Foundation’ which is accessible through Facebook and Instagram.

The Foundation reaches out to anyone who needs a listening ear, a compassionate and understanding heart, as they try to wrestle with various issues that threaten to destroy their lives. Moreover, relocating to New Zealand has enabled the family to speak openly about their trauma and given them a new lease on life after Davin’s passing in 2017.

I knew Davin when he was a child of four, as he used to accompany his mother to work on certain days and he won the hearts of us who were her colleagues. Therefore, the loss was personal and I too find it hard to comprehend the fact that he is gone, yet I hold onto the hope that one day we will see him when Jesus returns.

Struggling with suicidal thoughts

Suicide is not a figment of our imagination, nor are suicidal tendencies a form of gaining attention. It is a cry for help and at times the cry is not audible but felt by a compassionate heart. Believe me when I say this, as I myself struggled with suicidal thoughts from the time I was 13 until I was 39 years old. Even as a young child I would hear my father jocularly say, “I want to kill myself.”

However, I had never associated it with the term suicide until I watched a movie as an eleven-year-old. In the movie, a teenager committed suicide, broken-hearted from unreciprocated love. Little did I know that a few months from hearing the term, it would hit close to home when my beloved grandfather succumbed to it and left a void so deep and caused a ripple effect of brokenness among all of us. At the time it was taboo and one could not even address it openly, yet it left a hole inside of me.

At 13, I wrote my first suicide note, sealed it and kept it in a drawer in case I went ahead with the churned up feelings of despair that I felt myself drowning in. On the outside I was a social butterfly, full of smiles, laughter, friends and family. However, battling many internal demons within me, I felt intense pain and thought of ending my life multiple times.

All that prevented me from going ahead, was my fear of not succeeding in my attempts – I did not want to be maimed or marred for life.Yet these bouts persisted until a few years ago, when I was 39 years old. It was at that age that I knew for a fact that Jesus had healed me completely. Spending time in the Word of God gave me an understanding of my true worth and that I was loved by the God of the universe who formed, fashioned, planned and proposed me, and that I am a masterpiece created by Him. The fact that Jesus died for me and set me free from guilt and shame and His grace is sufficient for me strengthened my resolve to live with an abundance of joy, irrespective of this turbulent journey called life.

This healing from despair and suicidal tendencies that I was plagued with came at a crucial time, as a year later my husband passed away after two and half months in a coma, which was due to an injury he suffered in Bangkok while on business. I was by his side and every moment I was in prayer and able to walk in strength because I knew I did not have to end my life even though the pull to do so was strong. I knew God was in control of this seemingly hopeless situation and He would take all of us through it.

So suicide to me is not merely limited to statistics, it is personal. By sharing these anecdotes the hope is that we could create empathy and awareness among individuals to reach out to a trusted friend, family member or seek professional help, in case you or someone you love is facing such thoughts. This would ensure the prevention of yet another senseless loss of a precious life.

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About Rochelle Gunaratne

I believe that everyone has a story to tell and in turn, I love listening to those stories, attempting to paint a picture to my readers with my words. I may not be an artist or painter, but I believe words can create powerful images in ones mind and it is how we share our stories with others.
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