While exploring Lithuania’s suicide rate, the highest in the world, I learn that my father attempted suicide 11 years ago. I returned to Lithuania for the first time in 10 years to reconnect with my father; suicide is the greatest disconnection of all.
Marius Kalade, 52, and Julius Kalade, 78, walk outside to view the rainbow over my grandfather’s house. My father has been living with my grandfather for almost 6 years. It wasn’t until last January that my mother told me my father had attempted suicide 11 years ago by setting himself on fire and trying to drive his car off a bridge. For the first time in 10 years, I returned to Lithuania last summer to reconnect with my family. Reports from the World Health Organization show that Lithuania has the highest suicide rate in the world; 34 of every 100,000 people in Lithuania commit suicide.
My mother, sister, and I left Lithuania when I was four years old and moved to the United States. “Here… I couldn’t give you what you had there. That’s what we agreed on then. But, obviously, I could have helped more,” said my father.
As my dad was installing decorative lights above his window, I pointed out the angel figurine on the left. R: “I’ve noticed the angels and pictures of Jesus and Mary around the house. Are you religious?” M: “Not really. I’ll go to church every now and then, but you won’t really know for sure until the end.” R: “We’ll have to let each other know.” M: “I’ll write you a letter, “It’s hot in hell. Rugile, be good!’ Haha.”
“All I want to do right now is eat, put my feet up in bed, and watch a movie. I don’t have the energy for anything else,” said my father as he brought his dinner to his room.
An axe rests in a wooden block, a “kaladyte.”
My father waits for dinner as my aunt and uncle prepare fire-grilled sausage and other meat. “You’ve seen for yourself, people live worse here. There is no reason to complain. Everything’s good. If I was 20 or 25 years old, it would be a bit sadder, but now that I’ve tasted a bit of everything. Maybe the peace is good, as much as there is,” said my father.