Every now and then, we hear of a young adult or teenager who committed suicide because they couldn’t handle the social pressures that came their way. The sad thing is, many of them never tell anyone about their struggles and their desires to end their life. They live in a lonely world, being tormented by foreign thoughts till they are overcome by them. All these poor souls usually leave behind, is a note telling anyone interested in knowing why they ended their lives, the reasons why they did.
Today, many people are still contemplating on suicide; it is for this group of people, those who feel alone and unloved, that this interview was conducted. It is about a young man’s desires to end his life, his failed attempts and how God radically changed his life. This young man is Selorm Tamakloe. He is a singer, songwriter, pianist and the founder of the Speakers And Singers Association (SASA).
1) After knowing you for a while, it’s hard to imagine that you once wanted to jump off a building to end your life. You are very gifted, and you are doing big things for God through SASA. My question is, what made you want to end your life back in junior high school?
I think a little correction is necessary here. The thoughts of suicide climaxed when I was in senior high school, I least thought of that when I was in junior high school. Honestly speaking, I don’t think I’ll be able to clearly and most exactly paint the complex picture of the many things that caused my desire to end life, but I’ll attempt to state some of the very easily identifiable ones.
First of all, I would say it was matter of comparison—I compared myself to too many people, and most of those comparisons were very unnecessary. I compared myself with the best students in my class, in my school, outside my school, and even outside Ghana. I compared myself with existing musicians who had magnificent voices and always craved for theirs. I compared myself with the rich kids who had a lot to show off when in school. I compared myself with the huge guys who could have their way just because of their appearance. I did too many comparisons, and just like I said, the majority of them were unnecessary and baseless.
Secondly, I asked too many questions in my mind and didn’t look the right direction (God’s direction) for the answers to the questions. I wondered deeply about the entire universe, the millions and even billions of stars and my role as a single person on an earth with 7 billion plus people. I wondered and questioned about life after death and life before birth. And in all my questioning, I found no meaning, so life seemed meaningless to me. Thus, I found no reason to be alive and considered thoughts of exiting. The strange part is that, I honestly didn’t just wish to be out of earth but sincerely wished to be extinct – not to be found in heaven, earth, or hell.
On several accounts, I thought that God was unfair to me and felt that He didn’t love me enough, or perhaps at all.
When I concluded it would be impossible to be extinct, I sought for ways to end life. I did a lot of funny things and I wouldn’t say the things I did were as serious as what some other people I later on got to know who also suffered from depression leading to suicide did. I played with fire in the kitchen at home, made scary concoctions to drink, and attempted to jump from the floors of story buildings.
2) How did you overcome that overwhelming desire to do yourself harm? What choices did you make in life to end your past struggles? In short, how did you become the person you are today?
I think the uncertainty of where I would be after exiting the earth was one major contributing factor to me not eventually acting any of them out, but the main protection was God. I believe God had His hands on me. If there was one decision that helped, it would be the decision to follow Jesus. Things changed after meeting Him. I heard that there were 365 ‘fear nots’ in the Bible, so I decided to search for them. Reading the Bible searching for the ‘fear nots’ opened me up to many truths. Later on, I found Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life, and that’s how SASA came up. I started asking God why I’m here on earth, and eventually realized it was to use my creative abilities to glorify Him and create the platform for others to also do the same and even much better. After that, I started reading many inspirational books and Christian Literature. I also had some friends with whom I prayed constantly. These things deepened my thirst for God. And the more of God I found, the better I understood who I was and what my purpose is. I’m still on the journey anyway, but God’s grace is my strength.
3) What will you like to tell someone who is contemplating on suicide as this very moment?
Suicide is not from God – solid and truthful. It’s a form of ‘matured’ fear that creeps into the heart and mind of an individual and grows in a cancerous manner. The good news is that, it can be healed. Suicide can be healed when we rend our hearts to God and allow Him to conduct the spiritual open heart surgery. But it isn’t enough to have it healed, because fear, just like faith, comes through hearing. When healed, you must surround yourself with the things of God so that, fear won’t creep in again and grow to become depression or suicide.
Life is large but lived in pieces. Take it one day at a time, carrying your cross daily. Walk with Jesus and let Him lead the way. It is well.