FAMILY MATTERS with PASTOR CHANDA
Monday, February 1, 2016: I love reading. Sometimes my reading takes me to places that I did not expect. That is what happened to me today. I was reading about the Empire State Building in Manhattan, New York, in the USA. I wanted to know more about its history.
Somehow in â€œdigging aroundâ€ I found out that because of its height many people had found it an appropriate place to commit suicide. At least 36 people had jumped to their death from its top floors since it was built in 1931, the latest suicide case being in 2010.
One such person who committed suicide there was a lovely young lady called Evelyn McHale. She was the 12th case of suicide from this building and she was only 23 years old. She threw herself from 300 metres above the ground from the observation deck.
I soon discovered that Evelynâ€™s death became one of the most famous deaths in 1947 in the USA. Partly, this was because a photographer had taken a picture of her body as it crushed on a United Nations car that was parked by the roadside. It became a famous photo.
Understandably, I wanted to know why a young lady would end her life like that. Was she disappointed by a lover and so in the moment of depression decided to end it all by taking her own life? That is what I expected but I soon discovered that it was more complicated.
In reading a little more about Evelynâ€™s background, I found that there were a few lessons we could all learn from her tragic end. Learning from her may prevent many parents from losing their children in the same way. So, what did I learn from Evelynâ€™s life and death?
To begin with, Evelynâ€™s mother (Helen) had an unstable mind, which had led to divorce in due season with her dad. At the time Helen left her husband, there was no obvious reason for her to do so. Later, it became evident that she had a mental illness.
There is a very high possibility that Evelyn had inherited something of this in her own genes. In her suicide note, written to her sister, she ended by saying, â€œTell my father I have too many of my motherâ€™s tendencies.â€ She must have been referring to her mental illness.
Usually, people who have this condition are okay until there is a huge stress factor in their livesâ€¦and then they snap! It is as if they are carrying a heavy load in their brain. So, the question is, â€œWhat would have caused Evelynâ€™s mind to snap at so tender an age?â€
Evelyn had been engaged to a guy called Barry Rhodes and was due to get married to him in June that same year. She took her own life on May 1, one month before her wedding. Barry, who was with her earlier that day, said she was normal and joyful when they parted.
There was a further hint in Evelynâ€™s suicide note, which may just give us a clue. She had written and then tried to strike out the words, â€œMy fiancÃ© asked me to marry him in June. I donâ€™t think I can make a good wife for anybody. He is much better off without me.â€
Marriage is a very big responsibility. The thought that you are committing yourself to a partnership whose only door of escape is death can be quite terrifying. It is possible that Evelyn dreaded the thought of failing in her marriage the way her mother had failed.
Evelyn felt unworthy. Hence, she wrote in her suicide note, â€œI donâ€™t want anyone in or out of my family to see any part of me. Could you destroy my body by cremation? I beg of you and my family-donâ€™t have any service for me or remembrance for me.â€
What do we learn from this? Two things. Firstly, parents must never overlook the genetic weaknesses they pass on to their children. They must also never think that their own marriage failures never affect their children. Many social misfits come from broken homes.
Secondly, where were the friends and family of Evelyn as the pressure of getting married was building up in her emotional make-up? Often it is those who are near us, with whom we share our fears and frustrations, who can be life-savers. We need one another!
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FAMILY MATTERS with PASTOR CHANDA