The Story within the Story…When suicide visited my home – By Leonard Gildarie

 The Story within the Story…When suicide visited my home

Leonard Gildarie

Jun 10, 2018 – By Leonard Gildarie

I awoke on Friday morning to news of the death of Anthony Bourdain, an American celebrity chef, author, travel documentarian, and television personality whose show on CNN mesmerized the world. Bourdain hanged himself in a hotel room in France using the belt of a bathrobe.
In April, Avicii (née Tim Bergling), a popular DJ known from Sweden, killed himself in Oman. He used a bathrobe belt.

Chester Bennington, the frontman for Linkin Park, a highly popular rock band, was found hanging in his Los Angeles, California home last July.

They all had something in common…highly successful careers. They all had money. They all had beautiful homes, and families and friends. Yet, at the height of their lives, despite the millions of adoring fans who loved their work, they committed the ultimate act.

The world was stunned and saddened and attempted to come to grips. While the toxicology reports and other incidents would try to give us an indication, there are too many unanswered questions. The big why always surfaces.

The Catholics believe that your soul wanders when you take your life.

In Guyana, last week, we were numbed yet again with news that a Glasgow man, triggered by something, hammered his wife and daughter, and then went after his son, 11. The boy escaped. The man, said to be unemployed, fled to a nearby abandoned building where he hanged himself.
There were reports of accusations of infidelity.

I, more than a lot of persons in Guyana, can attest to the impact of suicide and murder.
My family suffered both.

I can imagine the pain of the relatives and friends of the Glasgow family that was wiped out because of the act of one man. I am deeply worried about the boy. He saw, he fled. He will need help. What were his thoughts as he fled from his dad? The man who was supposed to be the head of the house? His hero?

What compelled a man to wake up one morning and snap to such an extent that he would take the life of his daughter? She was only married last year to a US-based Guyanese, we are told.
By the acts, the lives of several persons were affected. Her husband would be broken.

I saw a photo of the now dead couple during a religious function wearing their traditional clothes. It spoke of decent, hardworking Guyanese.

As a newspaper, Kaieteur News has taken a position on the coverage of suicides…we are not highlighting it.

Three years ago, a teen, in the prime of her life, leapt to her death in Kaieteur Falls. That was probably the last time we extensively reported on such an incident.
I know the family well. They are decent folks. The incident has extinguished the light of the family.

Shortly after that act, which shocked Guyana and caused authorities to take precautions at that much-visited waterfalls, another suicide occurred.

The woman was part of a group of tourists. There were no suspicions. She was talkative. She took a running leap, into the gorge of Kaieteur Falls. She was a beautiful woman. She had quite a few friends on Facebook. The army had to recover her body from the dangerous terrain. It took days.

The newspaper did not want any copycats, our Publisher, Glenn Lall insisted.

I now come to something very personal that affected me four years ago.
I believe my siblings and other close relatives may not be too happy with the disclosures, but I am hoping that it will bring some closure to something that has left me angry.

My mom was young. In her sixties when she killed herself four years ago.
She was just in her late 20s in 1980, when she received the worst news possible.
Her husband, a policeman, was killed while guarding a power company facility at Sheriff Street. He was a simple man, from Mahaicony, who came to the city to live with his new family.
He was attacked for his gun. He fought back and was stabbed in the process.
My mom was devastated. She had two sons, both below six. She went back to our grandparents’ home in Enmore.

I recall the funeral. There were a huge crowd and a gun salute.

My mom was lost. Yes, she was getting NIS death benefits, but it was never enough.
There was one incident that my brother and I could recall vividly.
She took us to the Enmore seawall area. Somehow, in our little minds, we were scared that she wanted to kill us. She was that deeply affected. Somehow, I can recall us begging.

Over the years, I watched my mom, one of the kindest and hardworking persons I know, rebuild her life. She had her brothers and sisters. But, she never recovered from the loss of her husband.
We had a new dad.

Thirty years passed, but she still spoke of her husband. She wanted her remains to be with that of my father. She gave from kitchen and purse freely. She had people who loved her.
But she was a troubled woman who kept to herself and kept everything bottled up.
I received a call one evening at work and rushed to Diamond Hospital. She had ingested ‘carbon’ tablets – about four, I was told later.
I watched in anguish and anger as the life left her little body and the doctors covered her with a sheet.

Mad with rage, I wanted to hurt my siblings. My mom had a beautiful home and was living well. What triggered her? There was intense anger among her relatives. There were fingers pointing.
People were deeply hurt. I could see they were asking if they did enough, whether there were warning bells that they should have listened to.

I have decided to come out today to talk about this problem. Suicide and murder are issues we can ill afford in Guyana. We are already short of human resources. Our people are migrating.
There are families that remain who are hurting. Homes have been split apart. Little children who have to go live by other relatives.

We have to improve dramatically our capacity to deal with mental health issues.

I was glad this past week when I saw the GPHC had taken step to move a key department to deal with mental health.

We need to use some of our coming oil wealth to also, in a very strategic manner, develop our capabilities to deal with our vulnerable. We not only have mental health problems, but there are street dwellers, physically challenged persons, addicts, senior citizens and a host of others.
We have to move to change our narcotics law to amend the sentencing part.

Yes, I am still angry. Yes, there are thousands like me. We have pain and suffering. It is not good.

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  • Deen  On 06/13/2018 at 6:34 pm

    Leonard, good article. Yes, mental health issues and illnesses, as well as the incidence of suicides in Guyana are very disturbing.
    Your suggestion has merits, that some oil revenue resource should be utilized to deal with the social problems of mental illness, sucide and poverty.

    • Emanuel  On 06/13/2018 at 7:00 pm

      There is a taboo surrounding the topic of mental health and people don’t want to talk about it. They clam up and go in a shell.

      The time to come out of that shell and get help is now. You should not wait till you reach the point of no return.

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