The poem, “Suicide Note,” by Janice Mirikitani, depicts an Asian-American female college student who committed suicide by jumping out of her dormitory window. Her last words, thoughts, and feelings were left behind in a suicide note, describing why this had to happen.
This was a tragic accident that should not have happened, in fact, it should have been prevented. What drove this college student to kill herself? Was it her fault, or was she pushed so far that it became too much for here to take? It is revealed throughout this suicide note the many reasons why she decided to end her life.
The suicide note begins with the phrases, “not good enough,” “not pretty enough,” and “not smart enough” (3). These phrases are repeated over and over again, to prove to the reader that she was never appreciated or complemented for what she had to offer. No one had ever brought it to her attention that she was doing a good job, or that she looked pretty, or that she was smart. It showed that she was smart, she was just shy of a perfect four-point grade average.
The note goes on to state an apology to her parents. She felt as if she was disappointing them, by not working hard enough, and also “not good enough to please her parents” (7-9). Everything she had done seemed to be the best she could do, but to her parents, it wasn’t good enough. She begins to fantasize about what it would be like if she were a son, “shoulders broad as the sunset threading through the pine” (10-11). Would she have gotten more attention? Would she then be praised for the jobs she has accomplished? Would it be good enough for her parents? Since she was a girl, her parents expected less from her. She tried to stand up and take charge, by doing chores and tasks that a boy would be required to do. Had she been a boy, her life would be a lot easier, and she would have gained more respect from her parents. She admits that “tasks did not come easy to her” (24). “Each failure, a glacier” (25). The glacier represents a big disappointment to her, as if it makes her feel cold inside, and she regrets that she could have done better.
Further into the note, she pictures herself as a sparrow, “sillied and dizzied by the wind” (38-39). The reason she pictures herself as a sparrow is because a sparrow is a little bird that is not considered to be a really important creature. Compared to a hawk or an eagle, a sparrow is a peasant bird, or an everyday bird. People have noticed sparrows before, but have never pointed them out, like they would if it were a hawk or an eagle. They would praise the hawk or eagle, not a little sparrow. When people see a hawk or an eagle, they stop and say,
Near the end, she hopes that they will “bury her under a sturdy pine” (59). The pine refers back to the beginning where she pictures herself as a boy. The pine represents what would have happened if she would have turned out to be a boy. It could also mean that in the afterlife, she wants to be as strong as a pine, hoping that she will be brought back as a boy.
The suicide was a way for the college student to finally be noticed. It was very unfortunate for a person to take their life just to get attention, and to finally get some appreciation for all the things she had done, which still wouldn’t be good enough for her parents.