Silent Souls

You know who and you understand the what. You’ve received details on the where and when. The how is often a difficult pill to swallow. But the why is the most prominent question that often goes unanswered.

I still turn the station when that Sean Kingston song comes on. “You’ll have me suicidal, suicidal …” The words have a deeper meaning to me. And I always hated the pop-cultural phrase, “kill yourself.” Hearing stuff like that cuts deep when you have a friend who actually did.

We’ve heard it since we were kids. “Don’t cry and get over it; you’re a man.” It’s infiltrated its way into culture – toughness. Jay-Z said, “Difficult takes a day, impossible takes a week.” And if you ask a member of hip-hop culture to solve an extremely difficult life problem, his answer might be, “It’s nothing.” We’ve been taught to move on from life’s troubles, but haven’t been taught how to deal with the damage done to our minds. The worst part about being strong is that no one ever asks if you’re okay.

Suicide is a silent killer in our community. It’s time to stop ignoring the pink elephant living in our living rooms. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention says more than 90 percent of people who kill themselves are suffering from one or more psychiatric disorders, in particular:

  • Major depression (especially when combined with alcohol and/or drug abuse)
  • Bipolar depression
  • Alcohol abuse and dependence
  • Drug abuse and dependence
  • Schizophrenia
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Eating disorders
  • Personality disorders

Depression and the other mental disorders that may lead to suicide are — in most cases — both recognizable and treatable. But as long as mental health is a taboo issue in the Black community people won’t reach out for help, and they’ll find a way to self-treat.

None of us are 100 percent whole on our own. We’re only human. We’re flawed. We don’t have enough to rely on our own supply. Only our Creator can restore us. No one has to be strong alone. Asking for help is one of the most human things you can do.

Thursday, Mary J. Blige tweeted, “You never know what can send a person over the edge or make them want to keep living. Take it easy on people. We are so fragile.” Industry executive Jeff Robinson tweeted, “So very sad about Chris Lighty. Great long time friend, fellow Bronxite and peer. Incredible businessman & person.” Tyrese tweeted, “I don’t wanna believe this … Chris Lighty passed away…????? Hello? I’m so *expletive* sad right now it’s unreal. I hope this ain’t true.”

I don’t know why Chris Lighty allegedly took his life. And I don’t know why my very own friend took his life five years, four months and 3 days ago. We usually never fully understand the whys. We never believe our friends are capable of doing that to themselves. Not our friends. Never them. You never know what someone is really going through despite a smile. What I do know is we all need each other to survive and true friendship is more than a few head nods, handshakes and hangouts. We must be present in each other’s lives and we must uphold one another in constant prayer like our life depends on it … because it does.

This column is dedicated to anyone ever affected by suicide. My prayers are with you.


– Enitan Bereola, II

Bereola is the go-to style and etiquette impresario, public speaker and entrepreneur. He is also the bestselling author of BEREOLAESQUE: The Contemporary Gentleman & Etiquette book for the Urban Sophisticate. He is working on his follow-up book – “GENTLEWOMAN: Etiquette for a Lady from a Gentleman.” Check his Website and @bereolaesque on Twitter as well as Facebook.


One Comment

  1. Camille says:

    Wow, this article was very touching and absolutely true.

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