Watsons Bay – a name that gets thrown around a lot locally, but I’ve only been here twice. First time at the beach, arrived by ferry.
It was here that a bunch of strangers gathered one day to mourn the loss of their loved ones, who took their own lives.
I haven’t lost anyone I know to suicide, thankfully, but I lived among them. I lived with this demon since the age of six. Twenty years later it still comes back every once in a while. Although nowadays I see it more as a beautiful haunting ghost, instead of the feral mouth of hell that it used to be.
I also intended to come to mourn the strangers died around me. The many victims to high risers in Hong Kong, two who jumped in the same morning right in my neighbourhood, plus many teenagers in Hong Kong who gave up their lives at the conclusion of their final exams, to which society convinced them that you either get into university or you are done with life.
I was one of these teenagers, knowing that I would never live up to the standards of such a commercially driven society, where art and humanity are the least of anyone’s concerns because they don’t make good, stable money. All I saw was despair, unable to betray my authentic heart to believe that it could have been anything else better. No, this is wrong. It’s wrong to make our children believe that a school exam is the end-all-be-all. It’s wrong to make us believe that any lives other than having a stable income job are not worth living. It’s wrong to threaten us with worthlessness. It’s wrong to intimidate.
I refused to succumb to these believes, but I was alone. My peers have all too unfortunately followed through the rat race and let it defined their lives. They could only respond to my inborn resistence by ridiculing, suppression and isolation. Among the social abandon, unable to change my point of view, I believed, instead, that it was wrong for me to exist in the first place. I don’t belong in this world.
It was no wonder that leaving the city magically fixed everything for me. All along I was not being lured towards the feral mouth of hell. I was already in hell. I was born there. I’m not worthless and I do belong to this world. Just not there.
'I think hell is something you carry around with you. Not somewhere you go.' Neil Gaiman
Then I looked around the Aussies who gathered in Watsons Bay that day, with local stories outside of the hell I came from. I related to everything, even if they all carried different context and majority of the attendance were not suicial themselves. It was safe for my heart to be heard without getting ridiculed. It was safe for everyone there too to be open about losing someone to suicide, instead of the conventional death causes that are easier to converse and sympathise like cancer, car accident, heart attack etc. The stigma with suicide is still a very large, real elephant in a room that many people don’t acknowledge. Not this room we were in though – we all talked about it. We all listened. And the release will make all of us stronger.