Postcards from the Edge

of Bangladesh


Today has been sad. Very sad and surreal. And I’m not sure how I feel talking about it. Should I be talking about this? Is it mine to talk about? Is this wrong?

One of the girl class 7 students committed suicide. She had been missing for a few days, her guardians had been alerted and arrived from a remote area yesterday.

Her body was found today, hanged from a tree within the grounds. She was found by fellow students who were looking for jackfruit.

I felt (and still feel) sick. I live within the grounds so I feel very much a part of this organisation and community, and my reaction has been pretty emotional and intense. I’m surprised by the strength of my reaction, I’m not an overly emotional person. And I don’t really know how to process this. It has an element of the surreal about it, as if this isn’t really happening at all. Or that yes, it is happening, but that I shouldn’t be a part of it. That I shouldn’t be here witnessing this time of grief and guilt. I feel like I’m the person slowing down to see the scene of an accident. I shouldn’t be looking. But it’s happening here, right here where I live. Where else can I look?

Because of the language issue it look me a little while to ascertain exactly what had happened. I wasn’t sure if people were using the term ‘committed suicide’ instead of ‘attempted suicide’. And obviously the children are all here, many of whom have seen her body. Which had been there for at undetermined amount of time. And there has been a lot of rain over the last 3 days here. Sorry, I don’t want to paint the whole gory picture, but this is what most people here have now seen and are dealing with.

I refused to go and see her body. The police were called, but took about 3 hours to come, during which time her body was unmoved. What surprised me was how many people went to look. I assume it’s just a different cultural response. Maybe seeing is better than imagining? I don’t know. There wasn’t any restriction to the area, and everyone made their own decisions how close they were comfortable going, including the students. I assume some of the much younger children were held back, but I know fellow class 7 students weren’t. A very different reaction than I expect would happen in the UK/SA. It would have been cordoned off and very, very limited adult access allowed. I’m not judging which is the better response. But maybe standing back and allowing people to make their own decisions in situations like this isn’t as crazy as it sounds?

I want very much to discuss this all with my monk, but that will have to wait a while.

The police have now removed her body, and a post mortem will be conducted, and due process followed.

I don’t know how this will be dealt with, by the organisation or by the students themselves. When I was in high school, a fellow pupil was killed in a car accident on her way to school. And it deeply impacted and affected us as students, and the school as a whole. Dealing with a suicide of a residential student… I just can’t imagine.

My thoughts are with her family and loved ones. And with her. What leads a young girl to take her own life? Maybe we’ll never really know.

May she rest in peace.



  Amanda wrote @

Oh Dell. Hard stuff – but remember that grief (even for people you don’t know) is a process and goes this many stages. And all stages are important to make sense of what happened. Strekte my sister.

  Gill Spreeth wrote @

Hi Estelle
Phew it must’ve been very harrowing for all concerned. Somehow I imagine it is much harder for you, being so far away from your normal support systems. Also there are SO many unanswered questions.
As Mands says, all grief stages are important & its great that you are writting it all down. Very useful both now & later.
I would be curiuos to know what the monk says. It may explain some of the cultural differences, which as huge. Somehow we never think that much of how our own culture is part of us, until something like this happens & we want the comfort if it.
Hang in there & keeo journalling.
Lots of love
Gill xx

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