How one views the act of suicide, greatly depends on one’s outlook on life and one’s time of life. Throughout history, this single unalterable act, has been thought about, and expounded upon, in many different ways. The suicides of Cleopatra and Marc Anthony were told with romanticism. Vincent Van Gogh’s suicide at the age of 37, on 27 July 1890, catapulted the man into Renaissance popularity, fame and has inspired countless works of art in every imaginable form. Then we have the countless war stories of selfless acts of suicides, sacrificing oneself, to give others a chance at life.
However, most suicides, throughout popular history, were really a matter of deciding to arrive at the end of life’s journey, at a predetermined time, and place, of one’s own choosing.
All the same, no one ever expects it to happen in the land so often called paradise. The Bahamas, with its white sandy beaches, startling blue seas and laid back way of existentially existing, was long extolled as the closest thing to nirvana that any person could find.
So, irregardless of the impetus, suicide in the place popularly called paradise, is always unexpected, and just a bit, disquieting.
“We cannot tear out a single page of our life, but we can throw the whole book in the fire.”
1888 – Cuban, Isadora Cejas, Awaiting Extradition For Murder
On November 12, 1888, Cuban citizen, 31-years old, Isadora Cejas, killed himself in the Nassau prison. Cejas hanged himself with a strip of canvas, probably from his clothing or pieces of cloth used for his bedding. Cejas was being held for a murder it was said he committed in Havana in February 1885, some three years earlier. Extradition papers, for Cejas, were due in Nassau. The day before the papers authorising the Cuban authorities to take him, Isadora Cejas hanged himself, in his Nassau jail cell.
(The Saint Paul Globe, Tuesday, 20 November 1888)
A RICH MAN’S BURDEN
1946 – J. C. Cowdin Jr. Only Son of J. Cheever Cowdin, President of Universal Studios
SUICIDE WHILE THE BALANCE OF THE MIND WAS DISTURBED
John Cheever Cowdin Junior was the only son and child of J. Cheever Cowdin. Cowdin Junior was found dead, by the housekeeper, in his father’s cottage in Cable Beach, Nassau.
In 1936, J Cheever Cowdin Senior Standard Capital was part of the lending group who had to exercise their rights to the shares held as loan collateral of the financially strapped Universal Pictures Corp.
Cowdin would serve as Universal’s President and Chairman of its Board of Directors until 1946. In 1946, the son John Cheever Cowdin Junior committed suicide in Nassau by swallowing an overdose of sleeping pills.
(The Daily Oklahoman, Thursday 21 November 1946)
(Miami Times, Friday, 08 November 1946)
ONE ANGRY BLACK MAN
1964 – Mass Murderer Reuben Rolle Kills Himself After Killing 6
In May 1964, blood flowed, like a river, in one poor negro area of Nassau. Reuben Rolle, a negro carpenter, from Over The Hill, Nassau, was one angry black man; before the night was over, everyone in Nassau would know just how upset he was.
Angry, at life and his wife, Rolle snatched a shotgun and a friend’s automobile. Reuben then embarked on a killing spree that would shock the island. In the end, six people were dead and six wounded. One man, Alfred Glinton, dropped dead from a heart attack brought on by the shock of it all as he helped to attend one of the victims.
When it was all over, Reuben Rolle found a quiet spot in an old clapboard house and turned the shotgun on himself. Reuben killed himself, as an island wide search, for the first mass murderer the Bahamas had ever known, in modern times, was underway.
(Arizona Daily, Friday 22 May 1964)
(The Transcript, Thursday, 21 May 1964)
LONELY ENGLISHMAN SEEKING PARADISE
1937 SUICIDE INITIALLY THOUGHT TO BE FOUL PLAY
On first investigation, being a white man, on the lonely rock of Cat Island in 1937, it was quite naturally concluded that James Shannon was murdered by negro natives. But everyone knows that in 1937, no Bahamas negro, in his right mind that is, was going to kill a white man, even on Cat Island.
As it turned out, James Shannon, the Englishman from Kensington, London, whom it was said always had money from somewhere, killed himself in 1937.
(Tampa Bay Times, Monday 19 July 1937)
(The Palm Beach Post, Tuesday, 20 July 1937)
PROTECTING PROMINENT REPUTATIONS
1941 – Hanging Reported As Heart Attack By Wife
Dr. Edward Cravener was only 42 years old, when he hanged himself in Nassau. Originally from Schenectady, New York, it was said that he had a lapse in good sanity, cause by heavy drink, when he killed himself.
His wife, in an attempt to protect her husband’s reputation, said that she believed he had a heart attack. She mentioned nothing of finding him hanging.
Mrs. Cravener had a very good reason to try to protect her husband’s reputation. Edward Cravener was a top orthopaedic surgeon who published ground breaking surgical techniques on bone fractures 1939.
Equally, life insurance policies would not pay if the person insured had committed suicide. Families would be left, with no legal recourse, to sue insurance companies, if it were proved that suicide was the cause of death. In the 1940s, many women of means had never worked a day in their lives. The wife stayed at home raising children and seeing to the daily requirements of the house. The husband was the breadwinner. Often, surviving families would be left in penury, after the suicide, of the breadwinner husband.