Before you go any further, read my words, pick your side, choose an argument, curse at me or have any form of reaction you might have after reading this. You should know one simple truth: I do not care what you think.
If you are reading my essay for the first time, this might not be the best way to meet my mind, but you are here, so you might as well. My essays express my thoughts, opinions, rants, experiences and simplified ideas of how I navigate the world.
Fundamentally, I do not write to admonish, encourage, advise or criticise (LOL, this is a fib; I am definitely criticising someone or something) anyone. Mostly, I write for myself. I write because I need to. I write because I have something to say, and whether the world agrees is up to them. If you read and find my writings relatable enough to comment or leave a reaction, it gives me solace that I am not alone. If you disagree with me, I acknowledge your point of view as different from mine. Water no get enemy; I am Ice, I melt and flow as I need to.
These articles, essays, and texts are mostly expressions, my expressions, my outlet, which leads me to my first segue…
I love the internet, I do. Twitter is one of my favourites (Yeah, I know, I know, it is now X, but I absolutely refuse to acknowledge this preposterous nomenclature, and I will call it the name I have grown fond of — Twitter). While there, I get a good glimpse of humanity at its best and worst. It is utterly fascinating to me. On most days, I don't participate. I observe and watch and have learnt this in my short stint with the internet: Anything you put out on the internet is Cannon Fodder.
You must understand that anything you put out on the internet is expendable, some Entertainment, a filler for people's time and energy and nothing more for the most part. Anything you share with the world via the internet, on any platform, is nothing more than Entertainment to spectators who didn't even ask. It doesn't matter if it's your Pain, joy, love, or experience. Do not delude yourself into thinking that it matters.
Don't get me wrong, the internet has done amazing things to change the world. Advocacy like #MeToo, #EndSARS, and much more gained root and sparked a fire, conversation, some policy and then CHANGE. The internet is a tool, and tools are meant to be used.
A lot of us feel the need to share. It is fine for various reasons: validations, a sense of superior intellect, euphoria, showing off, dopamine, whatever reason you choose.
But you must know that if you decide to talk about your relationship online, fully expect your internet in-laws, agony aunties and uncles to comment. They must chip in their thoughts and opinions. After you have shared, there must be a reaction. People must laugh, snigger, point fingers, give unsolicited advice, rebuke, correct and warn others based on your story.
If you decide to solicit funds for an emergency on the internet, it opens you up to possible ridicule in the future. Your Pain = their Entertainment; You must make your peace with this.
Some days, you are lucky; there is genuine sympathy and admiration. If you are fortunate, you impart, influence, and cause a change. But in all, it is Entertainment for the world (this is how I see it; you are free to think otherwise)
This is why I believe some words are best left in conversations without records or history to refer to, in the comfort of the walls, with close friends and family. Once something is said and put out on the internet, it is there forever. The internet never forgets, and whatever you put out will be held against you, used as a hallmark, a reference, an accusation or a defence when your day of reckoning comes. And your day always comes, at least as long as you are active on the internet.
If you are not, Nah, don't bother. You will be fine. This doesn't concern you, I guess?
So before I put out anything anywhere online, I ask myself, "Keyu, are you willing to be Entertainment for today, tomorrow and forever? If the content you are curating right now is ever turned against you, can you bear the consequences?"
I don't always have the answers to my questions, but I am very conscious and deliberate about the information I let into the world.
This very thought I hold dearly makes me struggle as a writer (Screammmmmmmsss! I am calling myself a writer now, Oh bloody hell). I wonder where I will go wrong, what I will write about or share that will eventually come to bite me in the ass.
I went on this fucking tirade because of the main topic for today's essay.
Today, I want to talk about Suicide. Yeah, you read right, Suicide!
Okay, I am about to step into really heavy waters.
Death is a topic I often find that people refuse to talk about. I guess the finality and uncertainty around it boggles and scares people. It elicits fear. I can't categorically say I fear Death. What I truly fear is Pain. And this is why I don't have trouble talking about Death.
Not because I have died and come back to life. It's nothing dramatic like that. But I know what it's like not to feel like you are living either. And I know what it's like to detest your very existence so much that you want to erase it.
When it concerns Suicide, some of the narratives that people peddle generally infuriate me. For example, "The Check on your friends" talk.
Ummmm, Okay and then what happens after you check on them?
More often than not, checking on your friend does not take their pain away. Sometimes, they only pretend to be better to make you feel better. While your support is appreciated, it doesn't change how they feel. It doesn't remove the source of the Pain or whatever reason they want to end it all in the first place.
Am I saying you should be nonchalant? No, far from the truth. We should be good friends, empathetic friends. We should empathise, sympathise and help as much as we can. But it would be best if you did not carry unnecessary guilt. We like to believe we have a lot of influence or control over people's agency and can change their minds. And sometimes, it works, but that is only because the person in question wants or desires that change you so convincingly speak of.
Living with the thought that you could have done something to prevent someone who wanted to die from dying is soul-crushing. It is unnecessary and futile, and I will tell you why.
The question of a person's mortality is theirs to bear alone. I understand the school of thought concerning community and living for the collective, but let's face it- In the end, your life is still yours and yours alone.
Saying things like "check on your friends" when news of someone's Suicide breaks out only leaves guilt in the hearts of those left behind, thinking they could have done something about it. You cannot do much if someone wants to die or really wants to die. Trust me, I know, I have been there.
The best you can do is pay for a competent licensed therapist and convince them to see one. But remember, you can force a horse to the river, but you can't force it to drink.
If you are wondering why people choose Death despite "having it all, know that sometimes having a good job, friends and family that love you, etc., is not enough. It is not enough reason to want to remain alive.
Another statement I have a grouse with is "Suicide is not the answer". When I hear this, I chuckle. I am genuinely amused because I can only think, "What then is the answer?" Do you know? I sure as hell don't, and I can bet my penniless ass that you don't either.
If you are religious, what you have at best is faith, hope and nothing more and maybe for some people, that is enough, but for others, it doesn't even begin to cut it.
I will tell you how it felt when I was suicidal. I remember the feeling as clear as day because it is not one that disappears. It is there, reminding you that this is where you came from, and you can always return.
I was in Pain. I was delirious with Pain. Depression was the pillow on which I lay my head, and anxiety was the alarm that woke me up. I was in despair, and I was suffering. Sometimes, people around me were trying to help, holding me, telling me to be strong and reminding me that I was loved. They did this as they powerlessly watched me suffer. No one understood my Pain, no one. There were people around me with similar circumstances and pains of their own, but no one understood mine. My Pain enormously outweighed my will to live.
I wanted to die; I begged for Death, prayed for it to come and take me into the abyss so that I might finally find peace. I waited for the Grim Reaper, but they never came. After waiting so long, I tried to take charge of my Death, shorten the distance and find my way to nothingness. I thought of the many routes I could take: pills, jumping, drowning. I thought of the utter embarrassment if I failed and ended up as a vegetable instead. Or worse, I had come back to life to face the despair and guilt in the eyes of my loved ones. Or that I might end up in jail (in Nigeria) if I failed.
All my courage, my bravado in the face of Death slowly dissipated. My cowardice was my deterrent.
I think it takes courage to jump into the unknown realm of Death decidedly. It takes a certain pedigree of courage and bravery to make such a definite, unalterable decision- one you know there's no coming back from this, and you don't know the aftermath.
Then I thought of my reasons to live; only one came to mind, and even that was hanging by a thin and fraying thread. When I was better and looked like everything was going well, I still wanted to die. I wanted to die when I was on a high and living the best life with the cards I had been dealt.
Speaking of reasons to live, I'll digress a bit…
On purpose and existence
To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering.
— Friedrich Nietzsche.
For a long time as a teenager, I was obsessed with purpose. Why am I here? Why do I exist? Like Barbie, "What was I made for ?" (Oops, I still haven't seen the movie, but I have listened to some of the soundtrack mainly because I like Billie Eilish's music. Does it count for something ? I guess not🤷🏼♀️).
Why are we born? For what purpose do we exist? These are questions I ponder from time to time. Not as often as I was a teenager, but occasionally as an adult, it comes up.
We are born not for ourselves but because our parents desired us (or not), but eventually, we find a reason to live. Some people live for others to preserve themselves and give their lives purpose. Others find religion to give substance and meaning to life. This is why people talk about legacy, childbirth, leaving something behind, and posterity, but in truth, we only know the now, the present.
We ask the question of purpose because we live our lives cowardly, afraid to confront the truth of our mortality. That it is finite and the end is arbitrary. Well, except if you believe in God, heaven and hell, then life begins, and purpose begins to have perspective.
I don't think my words are enough to accurately describe what it is like to lose the will to live. I know Psychologists and Psychiatrists have a medical explanation for why this happens to people. I am neither one of those; I will not offer any medical explanations. You can read and research if you must.
All I know is during this time, I carried on like I always did. I woke up, told my loved ones I loved them, worked, had classes, posted wide smiling pictures on social media and continued to live. Only those closest to me caught a glimpse of my despair from time to time.
I wrote all this to let you know that when a person reaches the point of choosing Death over life, they have reached their answer. That is the answer they choose. So maybe that is the correct answer (for them), don't you think? It is their last survival measure, the last way to protect their soul. And I don't think it is right for us or in our place to sit on our high horses and say, "Suicide is not the answer."
I understand it is painful to lose a loved one. It is painful to learn that you were not enough of an anchor to keep them rooted with you. It hurts, and it sucks. But it is their choice.
Am I saying it is the answer? Ha! I am not. But I am also saying it is not "not the answer." It is just what it is: a choice, their answer.
I have people around me who are suicidal. Some days, I wonder when they will have had enough, and they will finally leave. Other times, I hope they finally create or find their will to live. I don't tell them what I truly want or think about their thoughts on dying because I do not want to influence their decisions. I know their love for me is important, and I do not want to add to the guilt they probably already feel about nursing the thoughts of leaving us behind.
Is guilt enough reason to want to keep living? I don't think it is good enough as an anchor. I think it sears the conscience, peu-à-peu and eventually wears you down. Then, you begin to resent your source of guilt.
Am I justifying Suicide? I don't have any moral high standing to pronounce such judgments. I don't think I have any such power to dictate the tides. I am merely sharing my thoughts on the matter.
But this is what I know: All things end. Death comes in different forms in the same way the new is born. And I don't see anything wrong with wanting to take charge of how it ends—considering you didn't choose how it began in the first place.
We don't know where we came from and what happens after. But we know the now, our present, and it is vital to live for the now, relishing the little joys and staying present every minute and every hour.
And like Roark in Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, I don't believe in letting things happen to me. So, the things I can take charge of, I will.
This is why Me Before You is one of my favourite movies of all time, although it was more about euthanasia. William Traynor wanted Death. Life had happened to him, but he realised that at least he could control his end. And if you are wondering about my thoughts on euthanasia, you can infer my answer.
I didn't write this because I intend to off myself (you can calm your titties now). Like everyone else, I am learning to live. When I am high, I ride that high like a fucking matador. And when I am low, I accept the abyss, not fighting it, just threading the waters to stay afloat. I still haven't found or given my life meaning. But I have the will to live and hope that gets me out of bed every morning.
And if you want to live truly, then you must find it or create one- Your will to live.
All my Love,
PS: You can end your reading by listening to Frank Sinatra’s My Way