According to the researchers, suicide rates are the highest during the late spring and early summer. In 2017, during the summer holiday, an event which can reinforce that finding came and knocked at our door. Every summer, I used to leave Mandalay and enjoy the quality of life in Pyin Oo Lwin. The appeal of the cozy weather, the aroma of roasted coffee and horse riding with Chloe is irresistible. Chloe, my cousin, is one of the strongest reasons for keeping the tradition of spending my time there annually. In our extended family, Chloe and I are two peas in a pod. She is the definition of perfection and the type of kid every parent wishes to have.
Since I set my feet in Pyin Oo Lwin, I noticed the change in Chloe. Her cheerful and energetic side was lost. She was in a daze most of the time. I worriedly asked her, “Hey, you okay, Chloe?” She said, “I hope so,” while smiling but her smile didn’t reach her eyes. Even during the family dinners, she was isolated from the family members and avoided having a chat with them. It was not the first time seeing her feelings being trapped in this kind of situation. Chloe’s parents are notorious for being severely strict with their kids. Chloe grew up in a mold set by her parents. As an offspring of an accomplished family, she had to carry the expectations of other people on her shoulders all the time.
One night, Chloe came into my room carrying her favorite manga books. She pointed to the pile of books and said, “Now, you are the new owner of my manga collection. I’ll give them to you as a present,” as a response to my curious look. My jaws dropped to the floor. In the past, she didn’t even lend them to me, even though I begged her countless times. I asked her, “Are you for real?” She nodded her head as a confirmation and gave me a hug. “Holy Jesus Christ! What is wrong with her?” I thought to myself. Needless to say, she left me puzzled for the whole night.
A few days later, I was reading articles on my tablet. Chloe and I were left at home while the others went to a relative’s wedding. Thus, I had to look after the house as Chloe was taking a shower in her room. However, I noticed that she was taking longer than usual. I saw an article with the title “Potential warning signs for suicide” and it instantly grabbed my attention. It includes the characteristics found in my sister, such as severe moodiness, isolation from the others and giving away the belongings. My heart skipped a beat. I immediately dropped the tablet and ran to her room. The door was locked and all I could do was knock on the door and call out her name repeatedly. As there was no response, I decided to try with the master keys. My hands were trembling and drowning in sweat. After unlocking the door, I rushed into the room. The scene I have never wished to see was waiting ahead of me. Chloe was unconsciously lying on the carpet and some pills I couldn’t probably name were scattered around her. I called the ambulance and embraced Chloe tightly. Her fragile frame made me shed tears.
After a while, the sirens erupted in awkward silence and Chloe was taken to the hospital. She had undergone various surgeries. The doctors said she wouldn’t survive if she was a bit late. She was in critical condition for a few weeks. Counseling sessions with her therapists as a part of the rehabilitation process helped her overcome her past events. From then on, it dawned on me that mental health is a thing we should prioritize more than the other materialistic success. What have I learned from this case? I learned that life is a short track and it is not worth living if we give too much space for the grief, grudges, anxieties, depression, insecurities, and dissatisfaction instead of our own physical and mental wellbeing.
This narrative essay is written by Myat Thazin Maung, student of AEM-Parami English Language Initiative.