Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Clocking Out - AKA Suicide

Clocking Out. . .

Suicide (from Latin sui caedere, to kill oneself) is the act of willfully ending one's own life; it is sometimes a noun for one who has committed or attempted the act. - From Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. . .

The events that have surrounded the death of James Dungy, along with a conversation with a friend last night inspired this particular blog, and with that, I want to actually bring up people that we know to have taken their own lives and to ask a question of you. . .

Phyllis Hyman (1949-1995) - Love the girl. One of my favorite singers. At the time I was in college and was working in a record store. When someone told me that she had passed, the first thing that I had thought about was a heart attack. (Anyone who knows/loves Phyllis would know that she had been looking well fed at that point). But when I heard that she had taken her own life, I was hurt. I didn't know her, but that was the feeling that I had was, hurt. . .What could have been so bad where she did not want to LIVE anymore?

Phyllis was a natural talent and beauty, in an era where her style, beauty, and musical genre were a place where, she couldn't actually be placed. (Similar to Dorothy Dandridge, Butterfly McQueen, Althea Gibson, Nat King Cole). It is also rumoured that she was constantly unlucky in love. She took her life not too long before she had to appear on stage with the Whispers. I still love and miss her music.

More on Phyllis: Phyllis Hyman Page AND PhyllisHyman

Donny Hathaway (1945-1975) - A rich, sumptious singer with an unforgettable voice, I was just knee high to a duck when he passed. He launched himself from a high rise window. The glass had been carefully removed from the window and there were no apparent signs of struggle. I remember seeing a picture of the window in the Ebony magazine. (back when the Ebony was HUGE). I was puzzled, and confused. I didn't quite know what suicide was and meant, but I did know that he was dead, but I didn't comprehend the manner in which it was prescribed.

Equally underappreciated (a la Phyllis), but beloved, Donny Hathaway sings one of the most, if not the most memorable Christmas song there is (This Christmas). His daughter, Lalah Hathaway, is equally as talented as he.

For more information, you may visit the Donny Hathaway Page.

Kurt Cobain (1967-1994)- Yah, I dunno. In my humble opinion, I think it was a CON - spiracy. I know he had a substance abuse problem, but somethin's rotten in the state of Denmark. . .

Additional info on Kurt can be found at

The Cobain Memorial: Welcome to Cobain.com, Cobain Murder Investigation, and Justice For Kurt Cobain - Was Kurt Cobain Murdered?

Dorothy Dandridge (1923-1965) - This is questionable as well. Although she had only $2.14 in her bank account when she died; there is evidence that her career was on the rebound; however, she had lost everything, and the only child that she did have, Harolyn Nicolas from Harold Nicholas from the Nicholas brothers, was severely disabled, and after her money ran out, she had to make her a ward of the state. It's questionsable that she died accidentally; however, many believe it to be a suicide, even though the official coroner's report did not make a final determination.

When I was a sophomore in high school, a guy at our school went into the men's room and hung himself with a belt. It was right after lunch and those in the first lunch had just seen him strolling around. Counselors were brought on site to counsel the students that were affected. Maybe then I would say that I wasn't, but in hindsight, I now know it to have been shock, because I blanked it out of my mind from then until the incidents that surrounded the most recent suicide of James Dungy.

More info on Dorothy can be seen at Dorothy Dandridge - A Life Unfulfilled

What I do know about suicide is:

- Most men use a more agressive (read: violent) means of ending their lives (shotgun blast, jumping from a building.

- Most women use a more clandenstine approach (pills, carbon monoxide).

What I DON'T know, and this is probably the consensus of all, is Why? What are your thoughts on this? Have you or someone you know had to experience something like this?


Carmell said...

my senior year of collage, this guy i knew shot hisself while surronded by police. he got a hold of the officers pistol, said i'm not going back(to prison) and shot himself...from what i heard he had stole some stuff and was under investigation by the FBI for credit card frud. and the searched his room and as they were bring him out the got away and ran and the caught up to him and surround him. he pretended to give up and grabed the pistol. now this was some skinny nerd. he was a big muscley man who played football. all in all i thought he was somewhat weird and didn't like him much. we had had words that he later apologized for but i never liked him anyway. but i guess he had been locked up before that no one knew about and he wasn't going back! i never understood the whole takin your life. i mean life can be messed up but not that messed up. plus they are going to hell for doing it. and life is way better than living in hell for eternity!

my dad was in love with Miss Hyman. and when he found out she killed herself all he would do is shake his head and say "shes gone" and i think he had tears in his eyes. as i watched him i thought to myself...would he be that broke up if my mother had passed? i think not! but she sis have a beautiful voice. it was said she was bypolar. so does that make a difference?

African girl, American world said...

Now girl you know this i sa serious topic and then you had to add...she was well fed in there. You ain't right :)

Listening to Lalah as I read and type this -coincidence?

ok you are right on your observations - I was a lost soul when I was younger like 12 and thought about it but never did it.

basically it comes down to being at the VERY end of your rope and believing that you have absolutely no options left and this way is easier.

I don't like hearing people say 'it was selfish of the person' cause then they're putting it back on themselves and not the person who did it - the person who did it had their issues, nothing to do with you.

Even if in their letter they say you did this to me - whatever...you did it to yourself. Leaving a guilt trip to someone living.

A friend of my cousin who got preggers by her brother (my otehr cousin...no incestry going on) kilt herself trying to abort her baby by herself.

Suicide is quite common in Zambia - at least when I was there.

That Girl Tam said...

Well...hmm...I'm not sure what to say. I'm having a weird day to begin with...do you know that I haven't really spoken about the incident around my father's death - completely - to anyone? I almost feel like I told too much, but I needed to let it out. Because even surrounding the time of his death I was unable to grieve because the Karyn shit happened RIGHT afterwards. And to date...I don't think I've dedicated much time for grieving, seeing how I have children to raise and a job to work, a household and marriage to maintain.

For once I have to disagree with Mwabi...I think my dad's suicide was selfish regardless of what he was going thru - and it has NOTHING to do with me or our relationship.

My father was a recovering cancer patient - and completely in remission. The months leading to and the night BEFORE he died, he and my mother (along with a large group of friends) went to a concert and then all came back to the house to hang. Everyone was having a good time...when everyone left and as my mother prepared herself for bed, my dad stood at the foot of the bed and told my mother how much he loved her (she responded inkind) and then they went to bed. When she woke up, he wasn't in bed. She ran all over the house looking for him and found 3 things on the kitchen table - his wedding ring, his insulin and a gun holster. She called 911 - within an hour they had located his car - and his dead body. Self-inflicted gunshot wound...car facing the ocean in front of the Palos Verdes Trump Golf Course...his two loves (the ocean and golf). He left no note...part of the reason my mother and I aren't speaking is because of him. He wanted her all to himself - when he put me and my son out in the streets, he got just what he wanted. My mother sacraficed her relationship with me and my son (and now Devon) for him. She was his caretaker, his lover, his best friend...and now his widow.

The 30th of this month marks the anniversary of his death - and my mother and I are BARELY making progress...all of this chaos for nothing...it's a waste. In the end, he had cut all three of his children off...his own two (my brother and sister) and me. And just as the priestess told me in her reading...he lived a selfish life and died a selfish death and had already moved on to his next life with little regard to what WE were going through...

Dee said...

I don't really understand suicide...I have been through some really bad shit in my life but I can't see ending it!!!!

Good post!!!!

Lāā said...

Having had thoughts of it when I was a teenager also. It is a feeling of hopelessness that there is no other way out of a predicament.

Sometimes it is a thing of 'they'll be sorry for not...' too. But basically I think that the person just doesn't know how to cope with what's going on in their life and they feel like it would be better to end their suffering.

I just can't think that a person is being selfish in committing suicide. Sometimes people think that things would be better off without them.

I'm sorry Tam if I offend you.

African girl, American world said...

ok Tam I feel you and yay for disagreements. This is how I feel though - he didn't leave a note and yeah he was selfish but I just can't bring myself to feel guilty about what someone did (not your step-Dad) but you know some people leave letters and messages blaming someone and then that person has to live their life full of guilt.

I just feel that it is ultimately their choice - yes they leave a mess behind and people point fingers and all that jazz but THEY did it.

I don't think I bringing my point accross the way I want but still...it is just so common where I am from.

still love ya and I think you need to get this out more cuz it still is weighing heavy on your heart.

That Girl Tam said...

Yanno...as much as I try NOT to be angry, I can't help it. I know (well at least I hope) that nothing surrounding his death was about ME - and I'm not even angry FOR ME...but for my mother...the very woman who barely gives me the time of day. Ok...sidebar: I just got off the phone with one of my uncles (he's my biological father's younger brother) - he told me that she calls him ALL THE TIME (he just turned 35 yesterday). He said she's been over to the house like 3 times in the last 2 weeks. This is all funny to me because this is SO not my mother...

So anyway, I'm still trying to wrap my brain around everything - and I'm sure P could tell I was totally holding back - even though I revealed a lot the other night. My mother didn't allow me, my brother or my sister to attend the memorial service...and that's probably where some of my bitterness lies as well...

No worries LaaLaa...I am not offended by what you said...suicide touches everyone differently.

Georgiapeach said...

This was a very touching post. It is so ironic that the other day...actually yesterday. I asked my boyfriend why do he think black men (fathers) kill themselves. I have a few friends who father's committed suicide and I don't understand. They all seemed normal, however I didn't grow up in there households. I think this is an excellent discussion. I never ask my friends why their parents did it (I don't like to pry)...but is there common events and circumstances that initiate suicidal thoughts for older fathers? I know I am not saying it right.....but really what makes a father kill himself?

P said...

Note to Mwabi:

Guess I could start commenting on my own blog considering I run around philosophicizin a la Justin X on everybody else's. Yanno.

K. I'll work onnit.

African girl, American world said...

he he he

I just left u a message in my comments

African girl, American world said...

NO that girl didn't go and read old posts just to prove me wrong - what is you? A scorpio? Virgo?


Well I stand corrected then :)