In Bone, by Fae Myenne Ng, the character Ona Leong grows up in a Chinese-American family in San Francisco. Ona shared her home with two sisters that are extreme opposites, a mother who works in sweatshops and a father who works out at sea for long periods. Ona grew up loving every member of her family and each one of them believed that she was on the road to success. But on a day like any other, Ona commits suicide by jumping off of the thirteenth floor of the Nam building. Without any warning of her unhappiness, the family finds themselves only being able to guess as to why she would do such a thing. How did Ona express her unhappiness? And how does Ona's choice of suicide affect loved ones?
Suicide often follows depression, proving false the stereotype of depression being only general sadness. Depression can be anything from temporary to extreme, and from insignificant to greatly significant. What significant might be characterized as could be the outcome of a loss of ones life. In a case where a woman's husband committed suicide, the woman later said, "'He was like anybody else with depression. But it was much more extreme than he ever let us know'" (Robinson, R. 33). However, Ona Leong appeared no different up to the day that she jumped; never even appearing depressed. Throughout the novel, the impact of suicide is seen from within the home, leading back to early childhood.
When thinking back, every detail of a person's life can be thought of as being a clue to the mystery of suicide. After Ona's death, both mother and sister alike, ask themselves, "What could have saved Ona?... If I'd been living [at home with Ona] on the Alley, could I have had that talk with...
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...the case of leaving a suicide note, can sometimes only explain so much, but actions do in fact speak louder. Taking your own life, in the case of Ona wanting to make a point, could quite possibly be the loudest action there is, an action impossible to ignore.
Robinson, Rita. Survivors Of Suicide. Van Nuys: Newcastle, 1989.
Barrington, Mary Rose. "The Right to Suicide." Problems of Death. Ed. Bender, David L. Anoka: Greenhaven, 1974. 114-119.
JAMA, The Journal of the American Medical Association, Regional variations in suicide rates - United States, 1990-1994. (From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Sep 24, 1997, v278 n12.
Robinson, Edward Arlington. "Richard Cory." The Pocket Book of Modern Verse. New York: Washington Square Press, 1954. 153.
Ng, Fae Myenne. Bone. New York: HarperCollins, 1994.
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