My neighbor took his life yesterday. A 15 or 16 year old boy, handsome. He lived in the floor above me. As I was having dinner, I heard a human cry / scream, and then tiles shattering. I thought it was a pot of plants which had fallen. I went out unknowingly for a foot massage, and saw the hole in the roof, the police barricade tape, and the dark pool of blood on the grey cement floor. Turns out he had gone up to the highest floor, jumped, crashing through the tiled roof of our covered walkway.
I went to the funeral this evening. Christian, with a bible in front of the coffin. His mother and sister looked calm. As saddened as I was at the loss of such a young life, I was heartened to see many of our neighbors in the donors’ list. I do not know any of them, but I recognize the familiar block and unit numbers.
I had seen a plain-clothed man taking photos of the scene yesterday night; might have been the police or press. But none of yesterday’s events were reported. Apparently it happens almost every day on our beloved island, often more than once a day. Within a day, there was no more trace of what happened – the debris cleared, roof repaired, and floor scrubbed clean.
Those who are closest to me will know I am a secular-minded person; how I feel about organized religion oscillates between curious fascination, detached amusement and eye-rolling disdain. But tonight, I will pray. For the boy and his family.
For the migrant workers who poked at the roof with their brooms to make sure there were no more loose tiles which might fall on people in the aftermath. And for there to be less fear and judgment in our communities of people sharing their difficulties. That we will stop seeing vulnerability as weakness or failure. That we cease to insist upon a public facade of happiness as a condition of respect. So that those among us who can empathize have an opportunity to affirm, encourage and hopefully, save.