With considerable confidence we may conclude that since the dawn of man, he or she have been searching for a sympathetic ear. Someone who would not only hear him or her, but moreover validate the inherent, selfish, autonomous desires within. Yes, we all want to be heard, believed and confirmed.
Evidence of this propensity can be found down the annals of time, from Eve’s encounter with a cunning serpent, to the bully pulpit of today, both mixing a distortion of the truth to be mingled with a lie and swallowed by the masses.
But there is another voice crying out, one that wants to take more than it wants to give, or perhaps one that has given all it can and can give no more, forced into a corner by life itself. It is a voice of confusion steeped in loneliness, it says, “You neither hear me nor understand me, is anybody listening?”
It is a voice that deeply wants to know its purpose but cannot. It is a voice mired in heaviness crying, “Pull me out!” but no one comes. It is a voice desperately trying to find its way, but hopelessly stumbles in the dark.
Persistently, incessantly, relentlessly cries the voice, “Is anybody listening, please help me, I can’t do this anymore; I am hurt, sad and lonely but no one cares, no one can help me.” It is the poisonous voice of self destruction screaming, “You’re better of without me!”
What takes a person to the irrevocable point of no return, suicide? Is it a lifelong journey of loneliness and depression? Is it a trauma, loss, or perhaps an embarrassing failure that causes great shame to the individual and his or her family? Does it build up over time or come on suddenly?
Men and women do not share the same fight or flight gene and process immediate danger differently. By that same mechanism, men have a higher mortality rate as relative to suicide; even though women are three times more likely to attempt suicide, men are four times more successful in their attempts.
What causes some to overcome insurmountable odds and cheat death in the face of horrific circumstances while others would rather die than fight? Maybe for some life itself is that life and death struggle.
I pondered these questions on July 21 of 2016 when I received a call on my work phone. My helper who had been released from prison not long ago and with a bright future ahead of him, hung himself the night before. He had escaped prison violence and even renounced his affiliation with the gang he was in, which has it’s own dangers.
Cameron was a big, tough, muscular guy covered from head to toe in tattoos which signified his affiliation. Each tattoo represented some pinnacle of achievement within the ranks of his gang, so by the virtue of being covered with them, it is safe to say that he had climbed the ladder of success.
But once at the top he quickly discovered the emptiness of his position. On a personal level he would choose to requite his actions through his memoirs and mentoring those at risk. But alas, he will mentor no more nor shall his memoirs ever be published. I am deeply saddened at my own failure to hear his cry for help.
On the outside Cameron’s presence was enough to make one feel fear or confidence depending on which side of the argument you were on. But on the inside he was as fragile as an old window pane leaned by years in the sun. He was a gentle giant that always spoke with respect, that in itself commanded respect. But Cameron wasn’t looking for respect or attention, only peace.
Cameron, I will sorely miss you my brother, may you truly rest in peace. Amen.
Rev. Joaquin R. Larriba