One of the things I enjoy about science fiction books on robotics and artificial intelligence is that I get to explore what different writers think about the human behaviour in a different light and what they consider the most important aspects of being human. The eminent author Isaac Asimov put forward three laws of robotics in his robot series, the third law being that “a robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws”, in other words a robot or being capable of rational thought should never place itself in a situation which would lead to its damage or demise except if it’s to protect someone. So it is with human beings: when we touch a hot object, we immediately remove our hands, when we see people who could harm us we avoid them but we would do anything to protect the people we love. To consciously take our own lives and override all the genetic and evolutionary mechanisms geared towards our self-preservation is an incredible act of will and conviction, indicating the strength of the internal turmoil that we are facing and are unable to handle.
I just heard through the ‘gay-vine’ that two young adults committed suicide this week, one in Ghana and one in Nigeria. Both of them chose to do this because they were outed and could not handle the stigma. The young man in Ghana was thrust into the situation when his neighbours found out he was gay and began to bully him. His last Facebook status reads: “It ends here…” In Nigeria, the boy’s mother discovered his sexuality, confronted and belittled him then proceeded to send messages to the boy’s father as well as other family members and their church pastor. Faced with the knowledge that everyone was about to find out something even he had not come to terms with, he chose to take his own life.
I feel for these boys and the distress they had to endure. When I began to come to terms with being gay, I thought about suicide more than once as a way to take away the pain and confusion I was experiencing and if people had discovered about me then, I cannot say what I would have done. Suicide is something that I still think about have always been unwilling to talk about even here on this blog. I can certainly understand what these young men experienced while they were alive. If I could have talked to them before they chose to leave this world, knowing what I know now, I would have strongly discouraged them. Being outed may feel like the end but it is most certainly not. While I don’t have a lot of experience with coming out of the closet, I have a few friends who are out to their family (for most of them it wasn’t by choice) but many of them are financially independent and that makes a huge difference. The ones who are not are still alive and thriving. There is more to life, even though sometimes it doesn’t feel like it.
I’m sad that they are gone. I’m disheartened by the fact that even their families could not support them at a time when these boys needed them the most. I wonder if there are really parents in Africa who would prefer a dead son to a gay son. I hope their souls find peace.