September is Suicide Prevention Month and I am overwhelmed with how to approach this months blog posts. I am an advocate for self care and healthy mental well being. I have been advised not to go outside of what I have stated my blog is for but how can I uplift black/brown men and not address a very real aspect of life they deal with; depression, emotional frustration, anxiety and thoughts of or attempts at suicide. I feel that a lot of black/brown men deal with so much mental and emotional anguish and because society tells them they have to just “deal with the cards life deals them” they have shame and resentment causing them to internalize their true feelings. The posts this month will be about acceptance, understanding and healing. Suicide is increasing in numbers in our community and I would be going against what this movement stands for if I did not address it and attempt in some way to help prevent it.
On January 25, 1991, Carl Antoine Duncan took his life. He was a father, brother and uncle from a rather large family. Falling in at number 10 of 13 living siblings. When he became of age, he followed in the footsteps of some of his brothers and a sister by joining the military. After serving his contractual time, he decided to get out because that life was not for him. He had left his hometown of Jacksonville, FL and moved to West Palm Beach, FL. He had a son, an adolescent at the time, that he shared custody of with his ex wife. In the early morning hours of January 25, 1991, Tony waited in the home of his former girlfriend with whom the relationship had recently ended. Heartbroken and distraught, he had gone to her house because she was refusing to rekindle the relationship. Without going into the details, Tony attacked his former girlfriend and she fainted. When she came to, he took his life in front of her and that was the end of their relationship…permanently.
How do I know this story, you may ask? Carl Antoine Duncan or Tony, was my Uncle. I loved him very much and he loved me. He always treated me like his daughter and I always FELT his love when I saw him and when I spoke with him. My Uncle Tony did not suffer from any mental illness that we know of and he did not suffer from any issues from his time in the service. What my uncle did have was an issue with not embracing the gift of goodbye. Uncle Tony called my mother while he was in his former girlfriends house to express his “ I love you’s”. He left no note but he did leave us with broken hearts. I was 8 years old when he died and I was almost 30 when I found out that he took his own life. His suicide haunts me because he KNEW how much I loved him, his son loved him, Hell, our entire family so how could he? Why would he not talk to my mom while he had her on the phone and tell her EXACTLY what he was feeling so that she could convince him to leave and go home? Maybe that was precisely why. He didn’t want to be convinced to go home. His intention was not only to kill himself, but to kill his former girlfriend as well. At some point he changed his mind and decided that he would leave us and she could stay and live her life because maybe his love for her was more important to him than love for self.
Love is such a powerful word. We throw it around so easily not really comprehending what is truly means. In love we have to deal with not only the emotional part, but the mental part of it as well. When we refuse to let go of things that we think we can’t live without, we diminish our love for ourselves. God never intends for any person or thing to overtake us so much that we lose our love for Him or our love for self. When this happens, it’s no longer love and becomes obsession. The unhealthy, toxic drive that pushes us to cause fear in the very person we are trying not to lose. Healthy love is not controlling. If you reach a point where you are negotiating the life of someone else or worse your own life just so they don’t leave you, that’s an indication you need to let go! My uncle was 29 years old when he took his life. He had not even begun to realize his purpose and what God truly had in store for him.
In case you are wondering, YES, I spoke with my mom about posting this. I am in no way attempting to shame or humiliate my family. I am bringing awareness to the reality that so many families in the black community deal with and don’t discuss because we have a mindset that “Our business is our business”. I even told my mom that I think if I had known my uncle’s death was a result of suicide when I was younger rather than finding out as an adult, I may be able to deal with it better. The feeling that I had after finding out and still have at times is guilt. I struggle for understanding as to why he couldn’t talk to my mom or anyone about what was happening in his mind and in his heart. I NEED for our Kings to be comfortable with love. Love of self and how to
My Uncle Tony was a King to me because he taught me how to ride a bike, He taught me how to swim (by throwing me in the pool and refusing to get me lol) and he taught me what it feels like to have a man love you from his very core. I am grateful that every memory I have of him is good. I am thankful that he knew how to control his temper and how to laugh from the gut! Those memories of him are what fill and break my heart every time I think about him. He made those 8 years of my life some of the happiest and even though his life ended in tragedy, I hope that I was a great memory for him just as he was for me.
If you haven’t read my bio, I stated that I would stay true and authentic. I have no intentions of creating depression but rather awareness. The black community needs to stand up and take accountability for the dysfunction we’ve allowed to corrupt our families for generations. Let’s break the chains off and it starts with our Kings…the HEAD of the family after God. I pray if you are a King suffering in any kind of way that you seek professional help. There’s no shame in wanting to be better for YOU. If anyone is in your life that can’t understand that, perhaps it’s time to re evaluate those relationships and while you’re getting rid of the old you, rid yourself of them too. The gift of goodbye could very well save not just someone else’s life, but yours as well.
If you need help to cope or are having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 available 24 hours a day