One of our third year students, Jude Antone, hanged himself yesterday.
The headteacher asked me whether it would be appropriate to make any gesture, such as a minute's silence, because it was a suicide. Swallowing my incredulous rage, I suggested that we should, and that the flag should be lowered to half-mast.
I sat beneath the eaves of school this afternoon, supervising Jude's class at P.E. Everyone was laughing and relaxing. The boys played football. The girls talked about brassieres (pronounced the American way). The flag flapped idly at about two-thirds-mast over our heads. Five vultures circled high up on the thermals.
I was so determined not to impose my Western ethics here. But I find myself bitter today, judging everyone. Some very inward, woundable part of me believes, too strong for me to question, that suicide should shock us. I am biting my lip not to scream "Why does no-one care?" It isn't reserve- the girl in 3A I asked about Jude sneered at me. Yes, people are more au fait with death. But don't tell me that accepting the inevitability of death is the same as holding life cheap. There is no consequence to this- no counsellors for the boy's family, no bereavement group, no investigation to speak of. Forget forensics, forget leaving the scene untouched until the police get here, forget school counsellors. The funeral has to be today, in this heat, with no morgues or refrigeration. Let's ignore it until it's dead and buried and then move on.
I have had a good life. I have never considered suicide. But this lack of ripple, this seeming indifference to the most extreme scream a boy can make, is one of the most disheartening things I have ever experienced. The loss of hope is more imaginable in the witnessing of this.