It was a beautiful, summer day in the middle of September. Alone in the cloudless, crystal blue sky, the sun reserved its 2 o’clock spot. Meanwhile, usual everyday activities assumed at State Correctional Center: Inmates stood anxiously at canteen windows with their orange net bags; bored inmates loitered the boulevard (walkways) to say “what’s up?” to their fellow convicts or female staff; workout junkies crowded the weight pits; and men walked around the rec yard tracks, or talked to their friends through the 12-foot fences.
“Four on four. It’s me, you, Jason, and Gran.” I said to one of my soccer buddies. Although the odds weren’t in our favor, our confidence motivated us to win. Minutes after the game’s first touch, I was distracted by loud radios and jiggling keys. I saw correction officers and nurses – like the entire medical department – running on the boulevard with a stretcher heading to N unit (a housing unit). “Someone passed out from smoking that darn spice” was my initial thought. Once the nurses disappeared into the building, I got back into the game.
With mesmerizing footwork, I dribbled the ball down the left side of the field. As always, I looked in the goalkeeper’s box for an open teammate. No one was there to attack. Using my lightening speed, I overstepped the ball twice, drifted right, and passed a defender. Within 15-yards of striking distance, I cocked back my right leg to fire, but instead, I back-heeled passed the ball to Jason, who was behind me. I cleared out and created space for him to shoot. With no mercy at all, Jason aimed and discharged a missile. Unfortunately, the ball whistled over the crossbar.
As the ball rolled slowly on the grass behind the goal, all of the players locked in on a breathtaking matter. Filled with fear and urgency, several nurses bursted out of N unit. While a desperate nurse administered CPR, her colleagues pushed the stretcher of a lifeless, 20-something year old, white tattoo artist to the front gates. “Lil E killed himself. He’s dead!” a person who had intel of the situation yelled. The short, slim build, young man – who suffered from drug addiction – had committed suicide.
From the few conversations I’ve had with Lil E, he seemed to be very lost, yet I saw – as God see in all of us – the good in his sinister soul. Along with the nerve-wrecking sirens from the ambulance, I heard hateful comments: “He needed to kill himself. That piece of s*** owed me money,” a guy standing near me expressed. My heart fell to the earth’s surface, then it was repeatedly stabbed by sharp tongues. “How can someone be so cold-hearted” I thought as I shook my head in disbelief.
Psychological studies have shown that deprivation of affection causes depression and abnormal responses to life – hence I couldn’t help but to think that lack of empathy was a factor. When the rescue squad faded away, the soccer game and other activities carried on. Despite the ambulance’s departure in silence, a part of me had hoped he was still alive. Discombobulated with saddened emotions, as I kicked the ball, the tragic passing bounced around my head.
Later that day as I sat on my bunk, my wish of Lil E still being alive was denied by the harsh reality – Lil E was gone. “They’re taking his body out now with a sheet covering it,” my cell partner said as he witnessed from the window. It was devastating. “How could he do that? What was he thinking? I feel sorry for his friends and family,” were my final thoughts. A man was tired of living and gave up.
I will never know his reasons. No one will ever know why he did it. But I do know one thing: “When one escapes pain and suffering, it creates more pain and suffering.”
Suicide is a self-inflicting cause of death – that is, an act of killing oneself purposely. Suicide is real. If you see a person who appears to be distressed, talk to them. Perhaps text or call your loved ones right now, and ask if they’re okay. You never know when someone is contemplating suicide. Your words or voice may be all one needs to keep going. In efforts to help save lives, check in on those around you. Be courageous and join the fight against suicide because all lives matter.
How do you feel about suicide?