If you ever wondered what could trigger a suicide attempt, Prince opens up on his experiences as a six-time suicide survivor.
Tertiary institutions have recorded the most cases so far, but it spreads beyond just that. Junior High School students have now been engulfed in it, and the situation is getting more serious with each passing day.
But if you ever wondered what could trigger a suicide attempt, Prince opens up on his experiences as a six-time suicide survivor. In an exclusive chat with Pulse.com.gh’s current affairs programme Pulse Blitz, Prince talks about how depression, and a will not to let his parents down, nearly led him into committing suicide.
This is a man who attempted suicide SIX times, but he explains that a series of crises he faced in his early life led him into attempting his first. In fact, his inability to gain his first choice course at the university sparked the whole thought.
“It’s quite a lot [before you attempt suicide]. It wasn’t like something that happened just once. It happened like six times. The first one happened after I completed Senior High School (SHS). I applied for engineering but I didn’t get it. I was given a different course,”Prince recalls.
“I actually got admission into the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) and anytime I passed by the faculty of engineering, I felt like I had failed in life. And I always wondered about how my friends would feel about me doing a different course, because they all knew that I actually wanted to do engineering.
“I was given physics, but I never planned of doing that. And it really got to me. For a while I felt really, really down. And around that time I was also facing financial issues, and everything was just crumbling down on me.”
Normally when people commit suicide, the overall assumption is that they suffered from depression, and could not get anyone to talk to. Prince admits that his own case was no different. According to him, anytime he tried to open up to people, they either turned him down or downplayed the seriousness of his psychological trauma.
“You know I tried speaking to someone, but the person was like ‘oh it’s just one of those moments, you will be fine’. I felt like the person didn’t really understand me, because I spoke a lot to the person. I opened up and told the person about the things I was going through.”
Having found no one to really understand what he was going through, Prince finally attempted to end it all. He recalls how a voice kept pushing him to do it, revealing that the idea of committing suicide actually “sounded good” to him.
“One day I just woke up – for the first time in my life – I felt like [ending it all]. At first I heard a voice like ‘take your life, it’s the best way’. And you know, it sounded good to me, so I went on and actually tried it,” he narrates.
He adds that his cheerful demeanor meant that even his close friends did not know he was contemplating the idea of committing suicide. As a student of KNUST at the time, Prince lived together with four friends at the hostel.
However, his resolve to keeping issues to himself meant that his friends knew nothing about his plight and could not help him overcome his emotional battles.
“I had roommates. I was with four of them in a room but they didn’t know what was going on. If you are close to me, you would know that I’m someone who is cheerful all the time. I don’t really show out what I’m going through or feeling. I am very good at keeping stuffs to myself.
“It was when I took overdose of a drug I was on, I felt it was time to end it – I was tired [of living]. I felt like everything was not worth it.
“So in the night I started screaming that I wasn’t feeling good, [and] the next morning I couldn’t move. So I was taken to the hospital. But all along, everyone thought it was some food poisoning, but no one knew exactly what was going on [that I had intentionally taken an overdose of drugs to kill myself]. That was my first attempt [at suicide], but I came out of it ok.”
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The first attempt eventually failed and Afful knew he needed help to make sure the thought of ending his own life never came to mind gain. According to him, the episode made him realize “there was something called depression, and I started to read more about it.”
But that was not it. His fragile emotional state meant that another challenge took him back to square one. Eventually when things got tough for him in subsequent years, the thought of committing suicide was again staring at Prince.
As a young man with so much hope, his continuous dwindling fortunes in academics really got to him. Worst off, he had relationship issues with his girlfriend. And with his grades falling due to severe depression, Afful decided to give up school.
More worrying is the fact that he began to lose self-believe; he saw himself as a failure in life and thought the only way to save his face was to take his own life.
A second attempt at suicide was soon on the cards.
“Two years after [I escaped my first suicide], when I got to my final year everything started crumpling Down again. I had relationship issues, and you know I had problems with my legs. Within a month I had three different occasions with people mocking me. And around that time too, things were not going well back at home. And it started affecting my school work. At a point I actually gave up school,” Afful articulates.
“Then everything started coming back all over again. I felt I was useless. A voice in my head kept telling me that it was not worth it, [take your life].
“At the second attempt, I was about to try it [suicide] then I got a message from someone to stop it. I actually went in for poison, because I made it a point that I was not going to fail like I did the first time. I looked at the poison and I cried actually.
“My grades were falling from first class, to second class upper, then even to second class lower. So again I felt like I was a failure to my parents. I felt like they were trying for me [by paying my fees] and I wasn’t repaying them.”
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Thankfully his second suicide attempt also ended in futility, after a friend talked him out of it through a text message. Prince remembers very well how that singular act by his friend got him thinking twice, and he eventually felt the need to live.
“I was like, I’m trying my best but it’s not working so I just decided to end it all. But when I was just about to do it, I got a message from my friend asking me if everything was ok.
“So in the conversation, I poured out everything. She advised me to lift my head up and read more about my situation. So that [talk] led me to throw away the idea of committing suicide.”
Counselors and psychologists usually advice that when one feels depressed, it is best to speak to someone. Prince admits that although he had good friends around him, he always felt he would be considered a burden if he approached them with his problems.
“It’s not like I don’t have friends. I do have friends who really care, but you know sometimes you just feel like you talk about it all the time [and you think it might be a bother to them].
“I felt like [they will feel] I always complain, because I was always down so it was like I was not feeling good every time. I felt like they were tired of me [bombarding them with my problems]. So I started keeping things to myself.”
As a young man who has attempted suicide six times, Prince has first hand experience about the trauma it takes for one to conceive that thought. He advises that such people must be treated with attention and care. He feels there has been less talk in the media about the effects of suicide.
He adds that the penchant of Ghanaians to joke with everything means people suffering from depression find it very difficult to open up, for fear of being mocked.
“Most people don’t know about this. When you tell them about your problem, they are like ‘are you the only one facing problems in life’? Some will say they have even been in worst situations. And it is very insensitive so I decide to keep most of the things to myself.
“I feel people are not talking about it [suicide]. But I feel like when people talk about it too, the ones supposed to help you end up joking with it. We can’t really blame it on depression, but suicide is not something we have to joke with.
”It Seems people are more interested in taking pictures when these things happen, rather than helping victims. One morning I opened my Twitter, and I only saw pictures of people hanging; it’s not pleasant.”
Prince is currently a spoken word artist, having overcome his emotional traumas. He still habours an ambition of going back to school to complete his tertiary education.
To him, the past attempts to commit suicide are now a thing of the past, but he was quick to add that anytime he thinks about it, “it puts me in that moment again [and] it makes me feel like I should try it again”.