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Pain and Aneliation in the Family

There seems to be lots of pain, anguish, disconnect and malaise taking place in Trinidad and Tobago within recent times. Suicide has always been a feature in the lives of some segments of our population, but recent occurrences are creating some concerns primarily because it is having a major impact on our children, and the increasing frequency in which they are occurring. What is disturbing is the fact that we are somehow beginning to accept this behavior and are reaching out to find reasons and justification in an effort to do what we have always done – nothing. Perhaps the time has come for full scale catharsis of the human spirit throughout the country. When we were kids, ever so often we were given a purge to flush the system out. Ever so often we take our precious vehicle for a tune up. The objective there was to ensure that it performs to maximum capabilities.

What one might ask, can be the equivalent on a whole scale basis for a nation with so many deeply imbedded socio- economic and political fissures? Running away is no solution, neither is finger pointing. Prays alone might not work, as we have so many ‘gods’ to pray to in this beloved cosmopolitan country of ours. It was wonderful to see that for once terrorist elements, racial reasons, political partisanship, or foreign based criminal elements were not trotted out as the tired excuses for the tragedies that took place. Albeit some rather simplistic and naïve explanations were used by well intentioned parents in each to ensure closure as they strived to pick up the pieces after the fact.

The time for action is now , as we have transcended what the popular Sociologist C.Wright Mills referred to in his book Social Imagination, as 'the personal troubles of milieu' and 'the public issues of social structure.' This is no longer a taboo subject that should be relegated to the back waters of Central or South Trinidad. Likewise it is too important to be left to exotic seminal research project for another bourgeois sociology student at UWI. We have enough of those gathering dust on the shelves of our University with little follow up by those that can make a difference.

A 48 year old Bar-B-Que vendor of Cunupia reportedly poisoned himself along with his four year old son. It is believed that the actions were due to marital problems he had with his wife. His 66 year old grieving mother defended his actions by claiming that they were done” out of love and concern.” His 73 year old father did the same and was convinced that his son meant no willful harm to his son, but simply wanted to protect him from a neglectful mother. A jilted husband and father attempted to kill his two kids by poison before successfully committing suicide himself. The grandfather of the kids and father of the victim took great pains to defend the honor of his son by claiming that the kids “a good relationship with their father.” He also promised to take care and support his grandchildren.

A 29 year old man shot and killed his 23 year old Couva girlfriend and wounded her brother after a ten year romance .It was described as a case of ‘forbidden love,’ that resulted in rage as family members were against the relationship and attempted to end it . A 16 year old Toco Composite High school student is alleged to have committed suicide due to the stress of having to re-sit an examination. His mother claimed that he had studied hard, had failed the exam before, and was very stressed out at the fact that he had to re sit the exam due to cheating by others. His father however expressed shock at the actions of his last son who he claimed showed no outward sign that something was wrong.

It was Immanuel Kant that regarded suicide as "the intention to destroy oneself." To others it is considered as” magical" and "consoling." The German philosopher Nietzsche placed another spin on it as he claimed that “by means of it one gets successfully through many a bad night." He would know, as his own life was ended in similar fashion I believe. Suicide cuts across several demographic boundaries. It knows no distinction when it comes to cul¬tures, nationalities, races, age groups, and professions. Evidence seems to indicate that the following people are most vulnerable: divorced, widowed, childless, the unemployed, dispossessed, the alienated, the emotionally distraught, alcoholics, substance abusers, or those where the bonds of family and socioeconomic cohesion are fragile.

No theory is dominant as to reasons for the common practice of suicide. The list includes biochemical imbalance/e.g., low serotonin levels in individuals suffering from depression), psychoanalytic explanations, sociocultural influences, and a whole host of
other psychological, social, and biological variables. A person faced with perceived psychological pain can lead to anxiety, guilt, despair, hostility. This can eventually result in hopelessness, haplessness, and helplessness.

We should again be reminded that suicide is in several forms and are not sole limited to jilted East Indian men or women. The Afro Trinidadian kid that confronts the police in a shoot out when he is obviously outnumbered by superior forces is committing suicide. The young person that lives a reckless sexual life without consideration for life threatening diseases is also attempting suicide. Reckless driving , and wanton abuses of drugs – even the legal ones-can shorten one’s life and yes,….Improper nutrition…. .I believe that the message is becoming clear. Proper reassessments, dialogue, and partnership between civil society, government and private enterprise should be the new order. This is human security manifested to the highest level I believe, agree?

C. Wright Mills, The Sociological Imagination ,1975 Oxford University Press,
RHONDOR DOWLAT, Murder/Suicide leaves two families in grief, Thursday, March 27 2008,,75762.html
Poisoned children in stable condition at hospital,,76943.html

CECILY ASSON , Newsday Forbidden Love ,Saturday, May 17 2008, http://www.newsday.,,79060.html
Sandra Singh and Ralph Banwarie,Teen commits suicide over Cape,Friday, May 16 2008,,78980.html

John Donnelly; Suicide: Right or Wrong? Pg.8. Prometheus Books, Amherst, NY. 1998

Trinidad and Tobago News

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