Vincent Van Gogh, Alexander Mcqueen and now Robin Williams is on the list of people who committed suicide. When I hear this 7 letter word it always brings me back to March 10, 1995. My sister was 6 years old and I was 8 years old, we came home that Friday with a terrible sight. I opened our bedroom and found our 12-year-old sister hanging lifeless. Naive and clueless, I remember holding her legs and telling her to wake up, but she never did.
At that time, I had so many questions. The media from my hometown haunted my mother. No one could clearly say why a girl would kill herself. I had times where I blamed myself for it. I remember the night before she committed suicide, she was quite disturbed. She broke my pencil and I told my mother about it. I thought I was the reason. I never understood what pushed her to do such a thing. One day, during her wake, I had a dream of her. I looking at her while she was facing a full body mirror. She saw a lot of things, maybe it were her personal monsters. I woke up trying to figure out why I had this dream. Days after, my mother showed us her suicide letter. I can barely recall everything except for one point. In her letter, she spoke of being afraid of putting our family into shame. She was a young leader, a state scholar and well-loved, to me she exuded perfection. Every now and then my parents argued, pointing fingers at each other on who was to blame. I could not blame any of them. I knew very well they loved my sister so much. I saw their agony at her funeral.
Years passed and we eventually learned to live without her. It was one of the biggest loss our family gone through. We endured poverty and flood but nothing like this. Saying goodbye to someone who shares your blood is never easy and what made it worst was none of us knew what she was going through. She stayed in a dormitory because she was a scholar at a state university far from my hometown. She only went home for the weekends. I always saw her happy and trying to make other smile.
My sister’s death helped me when times got tough for me. I had to deal with a lot of things during college. I have fallen in and out of depression. There were times when I felt everything was overbearing, that I could not go on. I had suicidal ideations and would stay in my room for days without food. Every time I am succumbing to the hardship that life deals me, I replay the sight the day she died, my parents, my sister, my relatives and everyone who loved her in anguish.
After studying about psychiatry in Nursing, I began to understand depression. None of us is ever immune to it. Life is never easy and you need a lot of strength and a change in perspective to get through it.
I never understood why until I found Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning from the old books I did not take seriously when I was in college. This book opened my eyes to a lot of realization on how we are during suffering and one quote that is in my mind is: “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’. When people go through depression or a lot of stress, they fall in a bottomless pit where they see no more meaning in their life. Sometimes, I still wonder, if I could have stopped her and yet I know even if I found the answer to this, I can never bring her back. I am lucky enough to have a strong spirit to deal with life. Her death gave me another reason for living, to help those who are at the brink of hopelessness.
“Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible.”
― Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning