About ten years ago, when I was 15, I met a friend whom I hadn't seen for years. When we were about 10, we played a lot together. He heard about my computer-'addiction' at that time and we talked during a whole period at school. It was a Monday and we planned on meeting up that next weekend. I was thrilled to have talked to him again, since we were quite good friend when we were younger.

That next Wednesday, I had my birthday. And school too. After two period, we had Geography. I can still remember it very well. The teacher walked in like a zombie. I knew her well, since I talked to her a few times in private about the way things were going at home. My mother left my father that year in February and we had a really rough time. She sat down and didn't even try to stop the noise. Seeing her lack of authority as an excuse, my fellow-classmates started making more noise. I sat right there in the front and I could see the distress radiating from her. She sat there, quietly, with her hands in front of her mouth. After a few minutes, the class noticed her behaviour and became all attention. Questions were being raised, "what's wrong, misses?" The class went dead-quiet.

She started to speak. "I heard some really bad news during the break. Really, really bad news." Still all attention, we tried to make her tell us the news. She told us she wasn't allowed to, but that it shook her very much. It was quiet again. Then we heard a few screams of anguish from down the hall. I mean, not like children playing and hurting each other, real cries of pain. At night, sometimes, when I'm in a brooding mood, I can still hear those screams. She turned to us and said "Well, seems like they told his class. Now I can tell you." I could feel the whole classroom not breathing anymore. She started to talk, paused, and then started anew. "Someone died yesterday."

We looked at each other, not understanding what she meant. When we asked after it, at first she couldn't talk. Then she said "It's someone from this school, he was here a year before you, about a year older than most of you." I have always been one of the oldest of the class, because I'm born in November. I had a lot of friend in that class she was talking about, probably most of my friend were in that class. We finally pried the name from her. It was the old friend I spoke to last Monday.

I think I just sat there, staring at a point far in front of me. I remember the teacher asking me if I knew him. I told her that I hadn't spoken to him in several years, but that we met again last Monday. She gave me leave to leave the classroom for some water, but I didn't want to. The class was full of noise again, but not as loud as earlier. I remember not really believing her, thinking about waking up that morning and if it was real.

Later, we heard that he had committed suicide by accident. He heard about some sexual game on tv, something to do with a rope around the neck, and he tried it out. Alas, he had asthma and when the rope was tied, he got one of his attacks. His mother found him, naked and suffocated. My parents knew his parents and my father told me she never went back to being her old self. Not that I can blame her. It was a very sad accident.

A few years later, an uncle of mine committed suicide. He was very deep in gambling debts and apparantly didn't see a way out anymore. It was the start of summer and he married again not six months earlier. He left a widow with major debts and four children. I don't know what became of her and I'm not brave enough to ask my dad.

His daughter, a girl from a previous marriage, my full niece, a few years older than me, found him, locked in his car with a tube from the exhaust wedged between the window and the motor running. He too was all blue and puffed. I can't imagine what the sight most have done with my niece, but I can't imagine her ever sleeping soundly anymore.

Yesterday, a friend of Hanneke was here. She was supposed to spent the night. During dinner, she got a phone call. A boy in the street where she lives, a friend of her daughter, tried to commit suicide. The children were gossiping about it and she was quite shaken. She gave her husband some instructions (it's always kinda sweet to see how a mother always takes charge when something affects her children) and continued eating. We talked about children's suicide (the boy was 13 years old) and she told us that the last six months had been terrible, with two suicides and one attempted suicide from kids in about the same neighbourhood. I've been reading about that a bit online and in some magazines and it appears to be some kind of morbid hype, children talking to each other and glamourizing suicide.

I had a birthday to visit yesterday evening and a movie to see with Monique (Miss Congeniality 2, don't waste your money on this one, it's complete crap). Since I was on my cellphone for about an hour and a half yesterday, the batteries were about empty and I turned it off early. When I came home, at about 2.45am, all the lights were on. That's very strange, since my dad always turns out the lights when he's going to bed. Not seldom does he turn of the light when I'm still in the room, just because it's a habit of him. Also, I noticed his car was gone. I turned on my cellphone to see if he left me a message. He had. In the message he told me that Hanneke's friend had had another phonecall telling her the attempted suicide wasn't just an attempt, the boy had died. So my father and Hanneke were taking her back home (that's my dad, fuck the 3 hour drive, she needs to be home, I really love my dad).

Once, I thought suicide was something I could try myself. I was very depressed and didn't think my worries would ever be solved. I took on the whole world, thought that all the wars of the world were somehow my doing. Or at least something that would come back to haunt me. I couldn't do a thing about those things, but still they made me feel very, very depressed. Then I noticed what happened to the people closest to someone who commits suicide. They never get over it. Never ever. It's a large scar on their life and a thing never forgotten. Then I realised, committing suicide is the most egotistical thing you can do. It's not a solution, it's not a way out. It's running away from your fears, not taking responsibility for your own life and the lifes for the people who love you. Loving someone is a weak spot and something to be cherished. It's the worst hurt, if someone uses that weak spot to hurt you. By commiting suicide, you're hurting the people that love you. Suicide is not problem-solving. And problem solving is what you need when you really consider suicide. It'll come back to hunt you in Hell (since people who commit suicide don't go to Heaven) or your next life (due to the negative karma) or whatever you believe in. And just think of the pain you'd leave behind!

When you're young, at times you can feel very depressed about life. But what helped me the most, was probably the insight that you can't have happiness without pain. If you didn't know pain, you wouldn't recognise happiness if it hit you in the face. Pain and happiness are relative terms, not absolutes. If you know very, very deep pain, you can be sure life will treat you to the other end of the spectrum eventually, supreme happiness. I'm convined of that.

Can you truly be happy when you're feeling the weight of the world on your shoulders? Yes. When you find the first piece of happiness (trust in yourself), the weight gets lighter. Will the pain ever go away? No. I can still be very depressed when I watched the news and saw yet another family destroyed because of some madman. Or the tsunami that hit South Asia last christmas. That still hurts. That's what makes me a compasionate person. I'm proud of that. But I can share the pain with someone I love and the happiness she gives me in return balances out the pain. It does, truly.

I'm glad I never committed suicide.


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