I called my dad one night we talked about many things as we were ending I told him I will call him back the following day , then he said: “Oh no, don’t call during the day I will be at Felix’s* funeral.” Felix was a young man in his late thirties (that’s young in my book), hardworking, and very handsome. Felix was single and had no bastard kids anywhere. When I inquired what was the cause of his death he told me that he committed suicide. It bothered me for only a few minutes and then I moved on with my life. A week later as we were talking with dad he brought Felix up and I could immediately tell it was a hard topic for my poor old man. He’s a man of few words but all his words are loaded with sarcasm. He once told me,”Kendi, I never see the need for a grave stone, it’s a waste of money a time for the living. We should cherish the memories we had with our loved ones while they were alive, a stone means nothing.” When my dad talks, I listen because it wasn’t always this way so on this day all I did was stare at him pensively with nothing to say. But on this day he said nothing sarcastic, because Felix was close to him he was like a son.
He started recounting how after college Felix came home when his dad had a stroke and his mother was the only one at home to take care of him and their farm and it was very hard so he needed to help. After a while his father recovered from the stroke and you could technically say Felix was free to go and explore the world. Felix didn’t, he stayed on and after a short while he started getting serious bouts of depression, he couldn’t leave his room he just slept all day, he started walking the streets (more like paths really) of my village talking to himself. Most people in my village started saying, “umeona Felix, anatembea akijiongelesha, amekuwa mwenda wazimu.” (Felix walks talking to himself, he’s gone mad). I wouldn’t call that crazy like everyone else it’s just depression and the moment we start accepting its depression or stress and that all other mental related illnesses do not run in the family and are an actual illness that can affect anyone then we will stop neglecting our loved ones and sort treatment for them.
A few months later Felix’s dad had an accident and he became severely paralyzed and was confined to a wheel chair. Prior to this moment Felix was still depressed, after the accident he healed (you can say he snapped out of it) with the help of his mother they took care of his dad. His dad lacked for nothing, Felix went on to run a very successful horticultural business. My father said he changed after his father’s accident, he wasn’t the same boy he knew before: there was an emptiness, a blank stare in his eyes, it’s like he was staring into the abyss, a hollow loneliness in his voice and a stammer in his words.
Fast forward 3 years later his mother was taken ill and went to sort treatment in Nairobi. She stayed for a little over a month and while away Felix was left to take care of his now frail father. One evening he went to exchange evening greetings with my old man (even in the village people turn up or meet and greet or whatever tickles your fancy). Dad said as he left that evening there was a finality in his words he sounded like he was telling him goodbye and thank you for overlooking the huge age gap and just being a friend , that was around 10:00 pm. At around 8:00 am the following day my father received a call that Felix was found hanging from the verandah facing the backyard of his house.He was laid to rest three days later. During the funeral my village was awash with hush hush tones of Felix’s death and in a few days it he was forgotten.
We can reduce suicide cases around us by just listening to those we love around us rant away their struggles. I know many people go through trying phases in their lives and we are bound to with all the stuff happening around us. Talking to someone really helps if you don’t have anyone close to you, you can call the NACADA helpline 1192 it’s toll free by the way and someone will always listen I tried it and it actually works a lovely lady counselor picked and I told her I was calling to find out if the line works because I wanted to recommend it to my peeps and it’s 24 hours. It was around 2:30 am when I called .I also found +254 20 3000378/2051323 I don’t know if it works but I will try it at a normal hour and bring back my findings, I will also look for a suicide watch in Kenya. Don’t feel alone call and talk to someone it might be all you need. Stay happy peeps.