A long, miserable history of suicide lies buried in Bahamian history. Something about the promise of so-called paradise never quite resonated for some.
Truth is, Island life has always been unforgiving, and in increasing degrees, indifferent. Island life hardens men. Impermeable rock, hot sun, and soil parched as though it were baked in an oven.
Patriarchal dominance was coercive and brutally applied. Columbus’s discovery of The Bahamas in 1492, gave birth to an unbridled avarice and violence. It is a bloody twisted navel string, buried so very deep.
1850 – Nancy Bethel (Logan) cuts her own throat due to a horrid domestic situation
In January 1850, Nancy Bethel (Logan) had attempted to end her life, by cutting her throat, with a sharp razor. She almost succeeded. With the help of Dr. Chipman and Dr. Black, her wound was attended to. Her recovery was not without serious complications.
Nancy Bethel was deemed to be of a deranged mind. She was sent to the New Providence Asylum for an indeterminate period.
As fate would have it, this poor lady’s suicide attempt left her with life changing injuries. Unfortunate Nancy was no longer able to swallow solid food ever again.
In May 1850, even more distraught and depressed at her condition, more so than the domestic abuse which led her to the first suicide attempt, poor Nancy threw herself out of the window of the N. P. Asylum.
This time, unfortunate Nancy succeeded.
1874 – Thomas Smith, native African, father of eight, hangs himself in a field owned by his eldest son – “laid violent hands on his own life.”
Thomas Smith, undoubtedly, one of the group of persons, in Bahamian colonial history, called Liberated Africans, walked some six miles through track roads and bushes, until he found the perfect place to hang himself… supposedly!
Thomas Smith must have awoke quite early on that Saturday morning 24th October 1874. In October, the days are short. Sunset is around 5:00 or 5:30. Thomas Smith walked some six miles to arrive in a field, owned by his eldest son, by 8:00 am. They meet. Speak briefly. The son leaves with the father saying he will soon follow.
If Thomas Smith had rope with him, he surely must have hidden it. His son made no mention of it during the inquest. Nevertheless, sometime after 8:00 pm, his body was discovered hanging from a Madeira tree.
The last person to see him alive, was his eldest son.
The first person to find Thomas Smith was his eldest son, with, rather fortuitously, a few others that he asked to come and help him find his father.
1876 – Samuel Toote cuts his wife throat in her sleep and unsuccessfully shoots himself in the head, leaving part of his jaw on the floor
A nasty business this was in Bain’s Town in 1876!
Mrs. Toote said that, she and her husband Samuel, had been getting on really well of late. They had resolved their differences and were enjoying married life again. But, it was all an act on Samuel’s part. His heart was blacker than night.
This is what “makes the crime blacker, the foul deed, she says, was done at a time when the culprit was apparently on the most endearing terms with her.”
Samuel Toote, after unsuccessfully trying to kill his wife, by cutting her throat, tries to kill himself. Toote reaches for his shotgun. He takes aim at his head by putting the gun to his chin.
What happens next, is nothing short of horrifying, and comical.
Samuel Toote only manages to shoot off his jaw and a good number of his teeth. He leaves these on the floor of the house, as he makes his way, on foot, towards Farringdon Farm.
Despite being in, what only could be described as unimaginable pain, dulled solely by either drink or adrenaline, Samuel Toote goes on the run in Nassau—- minus his lower jaw.
1877 – Samuel Toote sentenced to fourteen years penal servitude for attempted murder of his wife
Samuel Toote pleaded not guilty to intent to murder. He admitted stabbing his wife, but he did not intend to kill her.
Thank goodness the Attorney General did not see any other purpose for cutting someone’s throat as they slept, other than to murder them.
1889 – Captain Edward Roberts, Abaco – Arrested for attempting to kill himself
ATTEMPT AT SUICIDE —- On Monday night Captain Edward Roberts, of Abaco, who arrived here a few days ago to obtain Medical advice on account of illness, attempted to take his life by thrusting a penknife in his throat. He was on board of the schooner Nonesucg at the time and his wife observing what he had done, immediately held him, and with the assistance of friends on the vessel prevented him from doing himself further injury.
A deranged state of the mind is the cause it is said, of Captain Roberts having committed the act. He was arrested yesterday morning and charged before the Stipendiary and Circuit Magistrate, who remanded him for an investigation of the case which will take place when the accused is in a fit condition to appear at the Police Court.
In the meantime he is undergoing treatment at the N. P. Asylum, having been admitted there at the request of the Physician of the Nassau Prison.
1924 – Kirkwood Armstrong of Fox Hill – Missed his brains, shoots his face off with a shotgun
Whatever quick death Kirkwood Armstrong was hoping for — didn’t happen. Armstrong suffered from Bright’s disease, a type kidney disease. Illness must have drove him to suicide.
The gun was a long one and Kirkwood’s aim was shaky. He missed his brains and only succeeded in shooting his jaw off. This left him in agony on the floor. Blood loss and extreme shock finally ended his misery.
An inquest was held on the body of Kirkwood Armstrong who (as reported in our columns on Saturday) committed suicide at Fox Hill on Saturday afternoon with a single barrel 12 bore shotgun.
Armstrong was a man of about 40 years and was suffering from Brights disease for some time – – his body was partly swollen.
The bullet blew away the whole front of his face but missed the brain. He did not die immediately but fell to the floor where he rolled over and over and finally drew his legs up and placed both his hands under the left side of his face, in which position he was found lying – – – dead!