What are your thoughts on suicide and its implications?

A student wrote to me, asking:

What are your thoughts on suicide and its implications?

This question reminds me of a student who passed away in recent memory. It totally devastated me…

Days before her passing, I reached out to her as the trajectory of her social media posts suggested that suicide was imminent. I messaged her to check on how she was doing, and we conversed over the next couple of days. One day, she asked to see me as she wanted to hear advice from an older adult. She didn’t say what the matter was. We fixed an appointment, and I came to my office that fateful day waiting to meet her.

Half an hour passed, but she didn’t show up. I messaged and asked her if she was coming. She said that she wasn’t feeling too well. So she cancelled our meeting, and asked that we reschedule to another day. I didn’t think too much about this, so I agreed to a rescheduling.

Two days later, I learnt from some of her friends that she had passed away a few hours after she cancelled our meeting.

I was devastated, and even now, I am still haunted by this lingering thought in my mind: What did she want to talk to me about? What advice was she looking for? Would she still be alive today had I been insistent on meeting her? Given how it happened soon after we were scheduled to meet, I felt really awful. Couldn’t I have done something? Anything? Would it have been better if I wrote my messages some other way? What could I have done?

I beat myself up for days over this incident.

I eventually met up with some of her friends to find out what had happened. I learnt that even though this student felt so unloved, she meant so much to so many people. And so many of her friends were heartbroken by her passing.

The point in sharing this story with you is to let you be aware that no matter what you feel, or how you feel, you will always matter to a lot of people, even the seemingly unimportant or insignificant people in your life. At the very least, I want you to know that as my student, you will always matter to me.

Our minds can play tricks on us, make us feel unloved and unlovable, or make us feel that we have reached the point of no return. But how we feel is often an inaccurate reflection of what’s going on in our lives and to the people around us. Yes, the feelings are real because you feel them; the thoughts are real because they go through your mind. But we can always be mistaken.

Suicide basically leaves a trail of brokenness. Brokenness begets more brokenness. Pain begets more pain. What seems to be a solution for one’s self turns out to affect so many people. Suicide may feel like the answer to your problems. You cease to exist, but the people who love you will have to carry the burden of continuing their existence without you. And it is a sorrowful burden to shoulder for the rest of our lives. Some are haunted regularly by the lack of closure from your sudden departure. Some are haunted by the void that fills your absence for the rest of their lives. And many will have to live with the guilt that they could have done something, anything, to prevent it from happening because they are your friends/family. And not all are emotionally strong to get back up on their feet after your passing.

So, don’t forget the people around you. They do care for you even if you don’t feel that they do.

I just want you to know that no problem is ever too big. You will always have your friends and family, and you have me too. Come talk to me if you like. Don’t be afraid. :)

And if you want a trained professional to assist you in your time of need, please call the Samaritans of Singapore at 1800 221 4444 (24 hours).

An Experiment in Film-Making: The Ocean of Human Existence

Last week, after months of procrastination, I finally tried my hand at film-making.

In this past year, I’ve watched quite a number of breath-taking documentaries and online courses, and I have been quite inspired to make my own videos.

Those who know me would know that I’ve been working on the production of online course videos for some time. However, I’ve not had much experience with narrating or speaking in front of a camera. But most important of all, I’ve not had the experience of writing a script, which I think, is so central to film-making.

I think it would be worthwhile to gain the experience.

I decided to start small, so as to learn from the mistakes and problems that arise along the way.

I must say that the experience of writing a script is very different from writing a blog article. It took me several days to ponder about how I should present the content. The biggest difference is having to imagine what sort of scenes would complement the words of the narrative.

It is challenging, but overall, the experience has been fun!

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If you’re curious about the equipment, I’m using the Sony HDR-MV1 as my primary video camera, and the Olympus Pen E-PL6 as my secondary camera.

I’ve named this short film, “The Ocean of Human Existence.”

This film is based on the advice I received from a senior of mine back in my undergraduate days. His advice is, by far, the most beautiful words of wisdom I’ve ever heard. Back then, I was at a low, overwhelmed and stressed out with many issues in life, but upon hearing his advice, I felt enlightened, liberated from all the cares and burdens of this world.

This has been my guiding principle ever since.

Of course, the first time you encounter such a message, it might sound rather depressing. But there is something truly liberating about it if spend time thinking about it.

This film is meant to be serious, yet peppered with a dash of light-hearted fun. A nihilistic attitude, you could say, which is quite fitting for the message.

Without further ado, I present you… My first film!

If you enjoyed this video, please thumbs-up this video on YouTube and share it with your friends!

 

Transcript

Is it true that everything we do matters in life?
Is it true that we have to get things right every step of the way?
That one wrong move or failure would totally wreck our lives plans?

Is it really true?

Perhaps we think too highly of ourselves.
Perhaps we give ourselves far too much credit for all the successes in life.
Perhaps we don’t really have the power to change the course of our lives.
Perhaps we don’t have the power to change the world.
Perhaps we don’t even have the power to make things right.

Perhaps.

Life is like pissing into the ocean of human existence.
Nothing we do matters.

No matter how much you pee into the ocean, the ocean will not turn yellow.
It is only when the world pees with you at the same time that the ocean turns yellow.
Our actions are successful only because favourable conditions are present.

There is an ancient Chinese proverb:
When you drink water, remember the source.
We are where we are today not because of our own efforts alone.

No.

We are who we are, and where we are today
because of the fortunate and unfortunate circumstances
that are beyond anyone’s control.

We are who we are, and where we are today
because of the people around us,
who shaped us, who helped us, who guided us, who taught us.

We are who we are, and where we are today
because we have been pissing into the ocean of human existence
both in good times and bad; with people we love and people we hate.

But, the ocean remains clear.
Nothing we do matters.

We continue to live.
And we continue to piss.