Today I read an article in the NST about a young woman who attempted to commit suicide by jumping off the KB Mall rooftop. Luckily (or unluckily, depending on your point of view), she was not successful. She jumped right into a safety net waiting below. This got me to thinking why did she do it? As a Malay Muslim she would have believed that nothing would be waiting for her except eternal damnation.Yet she chose to (unsuccessfully) take the fastest way out of her misery.
I do not presume to know her story, or her reasons, and based on that alone I cannot pass judgement. That is for the Lord to do in his own time and will. What I can do is draw comparisons to my experiences, and to those of people that I know.
I think that almost everyone has had a moment, no matter how brief, where a suicidal thought enters their mind. It doesn't have to be a long lingering thought, festering within the deepest recesses of your mind, just waiting for the right moment to overcome your senses. All it takes is a small microsecond of a thought, or even the simple question "I wonder what would happen if I died today... What would he/she/they feel?". Some people may vehemently disagree, but to those who are truthful to themselves, they will know what I am talking about. We are human beings, and we all come to a certain phase in our lives where we will be tested, sometimes beyond what we imagine we can endure. For me it came when I was heartbroken over a girl I had had a relationship with for four long years. Trust me, when you are in college, four years is a long time to be with someone. But I was. And like every relationship, when the cracks start to show and a couple lacks the strength to reapply the cement that once held them together, it shatters and dies.
And that happened to me.
I remember months of being in an abyss of darkness and pain, where I felt there was no end in sight. The more I tried not to think about her, the more I did, and the more I did, the more I died inside. Every day passed by in agonising slowness, and numbness and pain were the only two emotions I felt contained within. Sometimes the heartache would take on a physical dimension, and I would suffer real physical pain, something I never knew could be possible. My chest would tighten and my lungs would feel constricted, and sometimes I really did feel like dying.
But I held on.
I know it sounds cliche, but I turned to God more than I ever did in the previous four years of my life. My prayers started to become regular, and I found comfort there. I foundd new joy in being with my family. I immersed myself in bowling, and became good enough to coach the district bowling team. I started taking my Masters. Eventually, although the pain did not go disappear, it became bearable, though certain times were more difficult than others.
And I remember clearly, exactly one year after my breakup, I woke up in the morning and found no tightness in my chest. I remember seeing the morning sky, as if I was seeing it for the first time, and the haze that I had been in for the past year had been lifted. The pain was gone. I was finally able to get on with life, not by escaping the pain, or finding comfort in other women. I just gave myself time.
I know that my story is hardly unique, and that millions upon millions of people all over the world go through the same thing every day... But that is exactly my point.
In the words of R.E.M :
"When the day is long and the night, the night is yours alone,
When you're sure you've had enough of this life, well hang on
Don't let yourself go, 'cause everybody cries and everybody hurts sometimes"
Isn't that the truth...