Correspondence: Bring youths back from the brink of depressionFebruary 28th, 2011
The tragic loss of an old friend sparks a call from Ryan Bachoo, a 21-year-old from Trinidad and Tobago, for Commonwealth nations to unite to save their young from depression.
I’m not here to give a sympathetic story on the lead-up and history of our relationship, but rather to try to reflect where our society is at and, if I can, explain how depression is fast becoming a cancer among the world’s young people.
Because the information I received on my friend’s death has come from word-of-mouth sources, we’ll call him John Doe, for his sake.
Twenty-year old John Doe came from a rural district in South Trinidad, not far from my house. His father is an alcoholic, his mother left when he was four or five. He has a younger brother and sister, never finished school, and shared a house with bigger cousins who regularly took advantage of him.
He worked at a local grocery store, and when he finally had enough of his bigger cousins and his family, he decided to leave and rent a place in the town’s main area. He paid $700 or $800 a month. He met a pretty girl, they got together, then they broke up.
During that time, away from home, unconsciously, depression sunk into him. He was a perfect target for it. Living alone in his landlord’s two-storey house, with no television and a mobile phone without a charger. Away from his friends and his family, John Doe was away from the contact of the world. Several times he mentioned he would talk to his girlfriend, then the mobile phone would die. A twenty-year old kid was left all alone, as he had been all his life.
John Doe hung himself on Thursday and was found on Saturday morning by his landlord. He was one of the best cricketer’s our village ever produced. He was a young man, who had his bad times, but showed character. For him, death was the only answer.
But by no means is John Doe’s story the only tragic tale in this world.
For starters, parents have completely forgotten their roles in life, while some are becoming parents too young. The majority of children facing such problems do not commit suicide, but that is not an excuse for such occurrences to continue.
Can we really afford to have children growing up in an environment where the father is an alcoholic while extended family take advantage of that?
The fact is, throughout the Commonwealth, and in other parts of the world, there are many people living in such situations. It is one of those domestic stories that many take for granted.
But, unless this issue of child neglect is met, especially in rural parts of the world, then we will continue to lose our next generation through not only depression and suicide, but also prostitution, drugs and other forms of easy-income. It’s already happening, and it must be countered.
It was only a month ago another mate of mine from Australia also committed suicide. Again, depression was the cause.
We as a Commonwealth have totally ignored the needs of the lower classes who need help in places like the Caribbean and India. The United Nations clearly isn’t doing enough, but we as a Commonwealth must begin initiatives to pull families and children from the brink of disaster.
We must get into the towns, villages and communities of people who really need assistance, and change lives. The effort, if there is any, clearly isn’t good enough.
The problem comes and goes, but it exists. It doesn’t affect people who have never been in the shoes of such an incident. Now, I have worn those shoes for the past few hours, and it isn’t a comfortable one. I hope my story can change your mind.
John Doe’s father called me last Wednesday afternoon at home and told me that his son wanted to talk to me. I brushed it off, didn’t take it seriously and – caught up in my work – told him I would try to see him this weekend.
I’ll be seeing him alright, just not the way I planned. I don’t think I would have changed his mind, but I would have liked to hear from him one last time.
But regardless of the poor decisions I have made over the last couple days, there are people being tortured as you read, and they’re in rural places like Africa and India where you cannot hear their screams.
Let’s really unite as a Commonwealth and pull these children from the brink of disaster. For young, uneducated and financially weak people, death is the only cure for depression.
When John was discovered, a note was left on his bed. It read: “I like my daddy, my brother and my sister.”
If we work together as a Commonwealth, we can save the next John Doe.