One early cold January morning, I got a distressed call from my friend, Clemence Fiagome. He called from Florida. I heard his gasp cushioned through the phone line: his voice panicky and troubling as he opened up: “Azuka, I needed to talk to someone and you are the only one I could talk to. I feel like killing myself. I am suicidal. I have been drinking and I am depressed. I have been battling depression, alcoholism, and anxiety for a long time. If you do not hear from me after today, don’t worry…. I bought a gun, a 9M to just end my life. Somehow, my son found the receipt of the gun order and took me back to cancel the order at a gun shop where I purchased it, awaiting delivery…. I just want to end this life, Azuka…”
I was speechless. I patiently listened to my dear friend as he narrated his struggles with depression and thoughts of suicide. I wasn’t prepared for this. I am not a counselor or a psychiatrist. But I listened to my friend, calmly and attentively, as he took me through the deepest and darkest struggles of his life. We stayed on the phone for over two hours, most times, he talked and I appealed, reassured him that he was loved and that there was always a charming reason to live again. I promised him that I would be there for him through the challenges, effective immediately. After more than two hours, we said goodbye. I did not know how our conversations ended that night… I remembered telling him I would call him the next day. That night, I turned and rolled in my bed till near morning.
Clemence Fiagome was one of the most brilliant Journalists from Ghana that anchored their heartland in Nigeria, the early 1980s. I met Fiagome at the Punch newspapers along with other brilliant and aggressive journalists that made up the Reporters’ pool at the Punch newspapers . Those journalists included Kafui D. Gale Zoyiku and Livingstone Brightwell. Years later, Clemence helped me navigated new immigrant’s life in Washington DC. Through the years, Clemence worked hard and studied hardest; he transitioned from Journalism after a few years with the Miami Herald, to Real Estate and also became a successful commercial contractor in Florida. He set up Aburi Construction Company in Florida. He was one of the few Black Licensed Commercial Contractors in Florida. Soon the demons of living would take over his life.
After our January phone encounter, I called several times, worried about my dear friend. No responses. Today, I called again . A charming, hopeful and reassuring Clemence answered to tell me about his recovery, nine months after he proclaimed suicide.”Azuka, those times that you called me, I was in serious rehab. I now find a reason to live. Life is worth living. I would hope those affected by these types of mental health illness would learn from me. I am sharing this brief story of my life to help others and give hope to those at the dark end of the tunnel. There is more to life. You gotta find the will and desire to overcome your struggles, against all odds. Yes, it’s not easy, every day that I live is a test and a testament to my will power and purpose in life. Find your purpose and focus on them. I give thanks to friends like you and my family for their supports which have driven this purpose in me. I am in recovery, happy about my progress and I just need your support and prayers, hence I asked that you, Azuka, shared this story. I am in remission with my recovery and program. I keep finding other things to do other than reaching for the bottle that drives my depression and anxiety.”
Please if you know of someone dealing with depression and or is suicidal, do not laugh or ignore him/her. Talk to to the person, no matter how long, reassure them and encourage them to seek help.
Please my people, show your love and support for my friend with words of encouragement here. If you are a recovering “addict”, don’t be afraid or ashamed to share your story herein. We support you.