Last Monday, I wasn’t feeling great, so I asked a good friend of mine to come over and give me company, which he promptly did. Yes, this may be uncommon in this part of the world, but both he and I hail from cultures where this is done.
When he returned home, a few hours later, there was a police car waiting for him in front of his house. Three visibly shaken cops were there to announce to him that his 28-year old daughter (who lived out of town) had taken her own life. Like many people who are suffering, she did not share the pain she was living with. Her death came as a total shock to her family and friends.
During her father’s tenure as university president he had tried to comfort several families of students who had taken their own lives. He often told me that it was the most difficult part of his job. Now, he and his entire family are coping with that same reality.
And as if this is not heart-shattering enough, as soon as I announced the horrible news on behalf of the family, I started learning that these tragedies are not as rare as one might think. Shocking was the number of friends and colleagues, who came forward since, to say that they also had gone through such a tragedy: a son, a daughter, a sister-in-law, a friend. Like my friend’s daughter, many of those who were suffering did not share the pain they were living with.
On this Father’s day, we all need to take pause to think about the many young people out there, who may also be struggling.