I now know what happened to my friend, one year ago. Details that led to his passing... My heart is still wrenched, but I'm a lot more ...

March 16th 2015

I now know what happened to my friend, one year ago. Details that led to his passing... My heart is still wrenched, but I'm a lot more at peace now. This new set of information has taken a while to sink in, because even after all these months, it still feels surreal. 

Let's rewind a bit. It was in March this year when I found out that Dominik had passed away in 2015. I reached out to everyone I possibly could through Facebook and Instagram to find out what had happened to him. They were all overseas people and I knew not a soul whom I could reach out to. But I knew that if I tried my best, surely someone would come back to me.

Indeed, at least 5 people got back to me via a personal message through Facebook or a direct message through Instagram. One of them was able to give me a little more than what I had already known - that he had committed suicide due to severe depression. There were other questions of course - for how long did he have depression? by what means did he end his life with? how is his family coping? is his girlfriend ok?

But by the time the 5th person got back to me with the same sort of answer, I realised... everybody was just as clueless as I was. I conceded that I will never know everything.

Then while I was in London in April, I saw a Direct Message in my Instagram inbox.

"Hey I just read your comment asking about dome and I felt like explaining what happened. I don't know in which relationship you guys stood, but I felt like I had to explain cuz of being one of his nearest friends... If you have any further questions or you want to know about something you don't want to talk about in public comments, just let me know.  

Best regards, Philip"

That message was dated 28th March and I had only come to notice it after 3 weeks in April. I guess Instagram doesn't just let anyone text you via DM.

I was of course glad that someone might finally be able to talk to me and tell me about everything. Someone who was close enough to him. Yet, a part of me felt restless because... I had already gotten over my sad phase of thinking about him. Now, I was conjuring up old feelings once again.

I replied Philip hastily. And I waited patiently for his reply.

Three weeks passed. Not a response from Philip even though I knew my message was "Seen". I had been thinking of Dominik again with each passing day. It was agonising.

Then just last week, I could wait no more so I asked Philip once again to help me close this once and for all.

Two days ago, I got a reply and he apologised saying that he'd get back to me as soon as he could.

Almost every hour after that, I couldn't help checking my inbox. I was anxious.

And this was it (reposted with his permission):

" Hello Si Hui,

First of all I have to say sorry, that I didn’t answer earlier. I was on a journey with friends in France and read your message. But this wasn’t the right moment to come back to this topic again for me.

I had big problems with Dominik’s suicide and it made me quite sad for a long time. We were very close friends and I knew him since the age of 10 years. We made sports together regularly and visited each other every time it was possible, when I moved to another city. When the message of his death reached me, I couldn’t grasp what was happening. This is now about one year ago. 

His funeral was on March 16th 2015 on a sunny, beautiful day. I have never seen so many young people at a funeral. The atmosphere was overwhelmed with deep emotions and great speeches of his family and friends. About 250 people were there, carrying flowers, letters and presents for his grave.

His mother told us, not to wear black. Not to feel like it’s a funeral. She wanted us to feel like it’s some kind of a goodbye-saying in a big circle of love. Love for a person we all knew as one of the happiest and most positive persons in our lives. The cinerary urn was colorful and so the whole day was.

Dominik had severe depression. For many years. When he was in New Zealand, we skyped very often and talked about his term on the other side of the world. But he wasn’t very happy there and felt very alone. But I always told him that he shouldn’t raise this time to question. He should just enjoy this privilege to see so many parts of our planet and he can get the possibility to know so many people. Then, when he came back to Germany, he broke up with his girlfriend, Inez. I didn’t really understand his reasons. Because he was saying that he wants to see more of the world and he doesn’t want to determine too early. From this point, he travelled a lot on his own. He went to Dubai, the US, Africa, Brazil, Argentina and many more beautiful places of the world. All alone. Sometimes I think about if this trip was his planned “last trip” – but I really don’t know and I don’t want to speculate if all this was planned months before he ended his life.

In March 2015 he went to the Netherlands, rented a house with a sauna, bought sleeping pills, alcohol and dry ice. He laid down on the floor in the sauna, drank booze, took sleeping pills and unpacked the dry ice.

With this combination, he fell asleep very fast, without any pain and choked by a carbon monoxide poisoning. He was found right the next morning, because he wrote a letter to the park he rented a house in to be careful with this toxic gases, that he doesn’t injure others.

His farewell letter was very simple. I asked his mother to read it. He was just saying, that he can’t go on living this life because of the negative feelings he has all the time. Nobody should feel responsible for his death. He loves his family and friends and will be watching all the time to make sure, that we are alright…

His grave is colorful with beautiful pictures, letters and laces from his family and friends. I go there at regular intervals to see if everything is ok. I talk to him, when I go there. I don’t know if this is stupid, but it feels like he can hear what I am saying and it gives me a good feeling to be by his side. As a friend I am really really missing.

Si / Hui … I don’t know what your first name is … But when I read your comment asking about his situation I felt responsible to answer your questions. Because I know you in some way. Dominik talked about you very positively! He said that you are the funniest girl he has ever met and that you two had a lot of fun together. He showed me pictures of a trip in NZ’s nature with you and some other guys in front of a big jeep with a mountain lake, if I remember this correctly. I think Dominik treasured you very much. And I also think that you were a special friend for him, especially in his dark times in NZ, when he didn’t feel alright. Thank you for this.

Si, I don’t know if you want to, but … If you have something for him to say personally, or a picture, or any other stuff you want me to place at his grave, you can send it to my address. I promise you that if you send something written to me and I should place it there, that I will not read it.

Maybe this could be a way for you to say goodbye to Dome personally. If you don’t want to do something like this, I also respect this. 

Ok Si, maybe my message is very chaotic, because I shed some tears writing this in my office and I had to be quick. But I hope it helps you in some way, understanding, what has happened.

If you have any further questions, just let me know.

Philip "

It took a while to sink in. And it is still sinking in...

I wrote back to Philip thanking him for everything. I told him how bad I feel now that I know that his depression went way back to even when I was with him in NZ. My heart stopped when I was reading how he chose to end his life. I could imagine the scene play out: His heart heavy, but resolute in what he had to do. He was gracious right to the very end when he wrote a letter to the residence he was staying in, ensuring that others not get hurt by what would put him into an eternal sleep. That was the Dominik we knew... Big-hearted in every way. 

I am convinced, that he had a sensitive soul and felt negativity in every fiber of his skin till he couldn't bear it no more so he decided to leave this world.

Perhaps that was his only way out. Perhaps this was his way to relieve his pain.

I am now at least at ease knowing that he's in a better place. Yet, I feel a sense of guilt for making Philip relive his agonies once more. The memory and the pain of losing a friend. I could tell he was careful in typing what he had to say to me. In letting me know that Dominik died without pain and that his final ceremony was a light-hearted one. It wasn't easy for him answering my questions.

In my email back to Philip, I reminded him that it wasn't his fault that he knew nothing of Dom's depression. That I hope he has forgiven himself. And that... Dominik lived a good life because of the times spent with friends like him. He didn't die in vain...


Guys, I'm sharing all this with you, because I hope whatever I share with you will help you in some way. Or remind you of what's important in life. I am opening my own life to you, telling you about the good and the bad, and also the sadness that engulfs me. 

With answers and this newfound connection with Philip, I choose to believe everything ended the way Dominik wanted. I'm glad that his funeral was spent in a way that best represented him. Positive, colourful and radiant. 

I found this song by Lukas Graham, and I imagine his funeral to be just as the song describes:

Everyone welcome to my funeral
Everyone I know better be wasted
You know I would pour one up
Cause the way I lived, it was amazing

All of my friends are in the room
Party for me - I'd party too

You're all on my tab
Bartenders pour out the whiskeys on me
And don't be so sad
Cause I lived this good
We were closer
Now it's over
Oh it doesn't mean it's closure
I see you and I love you

I'll be watching out above you

I know you will be there watching, Dominik.

I know you are there.

Because... the day I found out about your passing was,
March 16th 2016.

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