Mark Wignall | Later, rest in peace
The video of 13-year-old Davion Johnson of Grange Hill in Westmoreland, somewhat calmly introducing us to his impending suicide, is terribly haunting.
"Onnu probably know by now sey mi dead," is part of the opening words. "Mi tek words to heart," he says in trying to explain how constant scolding by those adults in charge of him created his inner turmoil.
We may never fully unravel all of the reasons why a 13-year-old boy was so displeased with life that he saw death as a viable alternative. To him, death would be the inner peace that he saw being denied him.
Too often adults throw words at children whether they are mother, father or some other relatives in charge of them. It has become a part of the package that adults use where many genuinely believe that a constant barrage of insults will embarrass the child and bring about a change in behaviour.
It happens in the well-heeled homes and at gully-bank hovels but, I am willing to take a bet that the more educated parents are, the more disposed they will be to read up on material that will assist them in taking on the most difficult job in the world - parenting.
I have heard the following words in many conflicts between parent and child; "Yu a cruff, yu nah turn out to be nutten."
"Mi should a did giyu whey when yu born."
Outside of books and many other bits of reading material, any parent caring enough about a child will soon know that losing one's temper will happen, but that is just the very worst time to let loose with vile words and a leather belt.
Young Davion says of the constant cussing and how it affected him, "Mi couldn't bear di pain. When mi try fi nice, it just nah work out."
Think about that. It is not so much the duty of a child or adolescent to open up to an adult as it is the job of an adult to detect the signals that all is not well.
Davion speaks of being bullied at school, of being constantly slapped in the head while travelling on public transportation. These are things many of us adults see as a rite of passage, a feature of growing up and becoming 'well balanced', while in reality many children suffer through life's hazing and bear the pain in silence.
Shockingly, he speaks of his attempt at suicide at least once and my layman's takeaway from that is that he should have been targeted for special counselling, if not psychological intervention. Many schoolboys are constantly playing the tough-guy hero and they do it for show, to convince their schoolmates that they fit in perfectly. Some go home and silently cry in their pillow at nights.
Bullying at school and then going home to harsh words which cut to the core of a child's self-confidence provide the perfect recipe for making a maladjusted child. I have stated before that in my previous interviews with a few gunmen and murderers, a common feature is that they were all brutally beaten by the adults who were in charge of them.
Adults take out their own generational problems on children even before they begin to walk. It's too late now to save Davion. A licensed firearm, we are told, belonging to his step-father was used and now Davion is no more. His pain has ended, but we need to use his sad ending as a learning tool in making the complex lives of many of our children an easier path to take.
Davion said that him being nice had never worked out for him. But he saw options and he considered them.
"Mi feel like fi shot dem, kill people but it better mi kill me self."
What terrible choices the adolescent saw life as. Either grow up, take up a gun and shoot people, or take his own life. Someone needed to be there for him, needed to lead him away from that dangerous binary path.
Finally, he stares into the camera in the quiet space he has found for himself and says, "Later, rest in peace."