School gap trauma
Family and friends shaken by Sobers’ suicide
On January 3rd, Michael “Mike” Sobers attended the Barbados Music Awards (BMA), a place he was at his happiest. Just six days later, Sobers was dead. He reportedly took his own life, leaving his family in a state of shock and everyone seeking answers that were difficult to come by.
Sobers, 32, also left behind six-month-old fraternal twins.
When a team from Barbados TODAY visited his family in School Gap, Hindsbury Road, St Michael, earlier today, some family members and friends were gathered at his aunt’s home, all still in a very sombre mood, a cloud of deep sadness hanging over them.
His grandmother Joyce Sobers was the one who discovered his lifeless body. She had just returned from viewing the corpse when the Barbados TODAY team visited, and said she was tired and no longer wanted to talk about the situation.
However, his uncle Curtis Alleyne recounted the last time he saw Sobers. It was a mere 15 minutes before he was advised of the young man’s demise. Today, he was trying to make sense of it.
“I saw Michael Saturday morning; the same day it happened he came by me. I wouldn’t say he was in good spirits on Saturday; he was very restless and passionate. I told him I was going in the garden. When I got back he was out in the patio. I called out to him and he shouted me back. When I came in the house I heard the commotion outside and I went out and I heard he killed himself. That wasn’t even 15 minutes when he left by me,” Allyene said, still clearly in a state of shock.
He remembered Sobers, who returned home from the United States about four years ago, as being a “very own-way” individual.
“He was a very own-way fellow. Very own-way. You just couldn’t control him. He went and get wrap up in some nonsense and then when he couldn’t take it out on anybody now, he probably decide to take his own life,” he said, the sadness seemingly overpowering him. “I’m very sorry as a family member. It shake up everybody.”
One of Sobers’ close friends, Hussain Hinds, with whom he shared a birthday on February 26, said he was hurt by his friend’s passing. He too recounted the last time he saw Sobers.
“I saw him on Friday night. I pass there and he was outside. I didn’t stop to talk because I was hungry and was going for something to eat. Other people were outside talking to him,” he said.
Hinds told Barbados TODAY Sobers never once mentioned anything about being depressed or going through problems.
Another close friend, former producer of the BMA Ronnie Morris also tried coming to grips with his passing. Morris, too, said he was shocked and shaken by the incident, given that just after the BMA they had a lengthy conversation about the future. He remembered Sobers as an encouraging and fun-loving person who loved music.
“He assisted us with the BMAs in 2015 and 2016 and also worked hard on the Queens of Gospel project. Mike always had an uplifting attitude. Nothing was impossible and everything could be achieved,” he said.
Morris added that while he knew Sobers was under some “pressure”, his decision to take his own life still came as a shock.
“I understand the pressure he was under, but can’t understand his decision, as he had a circle of friends who would have supported him through anything. But we can also relate to the fact that we are all just human and we can only take so much and no more. I think he was at that point in his life. I have never seen anyone under so much pressure try so hard to smile through it. He loved his kids, and sacrificed all he had for them,” he added.
He admitted that going forward was going to be difficult for their circle of friends.
“This is going to be a difficult time for us, the ones he knew, the ones he shared his concerns with; but I am also confident that his circle of friends also know now beyond the shadow of a doubt that suicide leaves those who care, the ones who are left behind, traumatized, and my hope is that they never even consider suicide as an option in times of seemingly insurmountable challenges. Time can heal anything. Just give God time to prepare His miracles. They may take a while but eventually they come to pass. May he rest in peace,” Morris said.
Just last Friday, prominent pastor and Government Senator David Durant told Barbados TODAY he had seen a rise in the number of people with suicidal tendencies, many of whom had had traumatic experiences.
“I am very concerned about it because there are quite a number of people who do come with thoughts like that as pressure increases, situations within the island turn in a negative direction [and] as people are pressured either due to abandonment, neglect, abuse, rejection, hurts, unemployment or whatever other situation that can trigger that in them mentally and emotionally,” Durant said at the time.
He also revealed that among those who went to his church seeking counselling for depression and thoughts of suicide were a growing number of young people.