3 min

The pain of suicide

We must each build a chosen family around us

Last month a person I know committed suicide and I would like to understand why. We met about two years ago while working for the same store. I always knew that there was a pretty good chance that I would run into him dancing at the Odyssey if I decided to go out. Oh my God, he was such an incredible dancer. I think that was something he really loved. If we met on the dance floor we would say “hi” briefly and perhaps we’d dance beside each other for a while.

I was sad to hear about his death and I would like to understand why he did it. Was it that he was going through personal troubles and felt that nobody cared for him?

Some of his friends got together after his death. Unfortunately I wasn’t at the reunion, but one of my friends who went told me that a lot of people came that night. It made us wonder if he realized how many people knew him and cared for him? Or did we really care for him?

I believe that all of us have a purpose in life and I believe that my friend’s life also had a purpose; despite it’s sad ending. I felt I had to write about him to pay tribute to his memory so that the purpose of his life and death are not in vain.

I don’t think that anyone should commit suicide, but I also know that life isn’t always easy so I can’t judge my friend for what he did. There have been times in my own life that I have felt so overwhelmed that I have also considered suicide. Fortunately for me, up to now I have always been surrounded by caring and supportive people.

I know of at least one other gay man who killed himself recently and I wonder why? How is it that our community is failing to provide comfort and solace to those of us going through personal difficulties? I think that as human beings we naturally strive for love and companionship. Unfortunately, I see a lot of lonely gay men around me. I have also heard a lot of my friends talk about their disillusionment with the gay scene in Vancouver.

Sure, we come together on the dance floor of a gay bar or at big events that draw hundreds of us. We dance to the music and rub each other’s backs in bliss. We also keep in constant communication in chat rooms in search of sex, poppers and pills, barebacking, friends, conversation, or love and companionship. But when the lights come on at the end of the last song or when we sign off the computer and walk into the streets, we pretend like we have never seen each other before. Quite honestly, Vancouver isn’t that big of city and our gay community isn’t that big either.

I love Canada and I love Vancouver; it is my home.

But I can’t help comparing it with the society in which I grew up. In my culture the family is the nucleus of society. The family unit remains together well after “the kids” have graduated from university. In our lives there are strong bonds of love, physical affection and support with our immediate family, relatives and friends.

In my case, like a lot of gay men that grew up somewhere else and moved to Vancouver, I have limited access to the family and friends with whom I grew up. If that wasn’t enough, for a lot of us being gay is socially unacceptable in the eyes of our families and we are forced to live our lives away from their judgment.

Being separated from my past life, I rely on the love and support that I receive from my friends, especially when I am having personal difficulties. My friends in Vancouver constitute my immediate family. And although I love them all, and I know their love for me is sincere, I don’t feel the same kind of strong bonds of love, physical affection and support that I grew up with.

I understand that the society in which I am now living puts a strong emphasis on our progress as individuals. However, I believe that lack of social interaction is at the root of our problems as a supportive community. Is it possible that as gay men we lack enough structures for emotional support and encouragement to help us cope with difficult circumstances?

I haven’t been to the Odyssey since the death of my friend, but I sure will notice his absence. Perhaps we need to build a strong and loving gay community, our gay family. I don’t think that anyone should commit suicide and I really don’t want to see another one of my friends die. But any one of us can be at risk of facing extremely difficult and painful situations in our lives. I just hope that we can find love and solace when we really need someone to rub our backs. Otherwise there is a risk that we will notice more empty spaces on our dance floors.

* Please feel free to send me a message if you have any ideas to build a stronger and caring community at