Tag Archives: suicide

Haunted Apartment in Worchester, Massachusetts

--Informant Info--
Nationality:
Age:
Occupation:
Residence:
Date of Performance/Collection: October 24, 2020
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Burmese, Mandarin, Cantonese

Background: My informant is my aunt, a woman in her late 50s who lives in Henderson, Nevada (L). L is Buddhist and of Chinese and Burmese descent.

Context: This conversation took place one night over Zoom. L’s experience took place in 2003, her second year in pharmacy school, in the apartment that she rented with her roommate in Worchester, Massachusetts. She occupied the master bedroom, where most of the haunting took place. I reached out to L because I knew she had been haunted by a ghost while in pharmacy school, but I had never heard the full story.

Main Piece

Me: Can you describe what happened to you?

L: That happened in 2003 in Worcester. I was in pharmacy school, my second year. Me and my friend, we rented a room, two bedrooms for $1200. The week before we moved out, the apartment manager called us. They had a furnace room at the 26th floor. Really big rooms, really good everything. They offered us $900. I did not have suspicions. We are students, we are cheap, we didn’t have beds. I looked at it: we’re lucky!

Me: How was your life there?

L: I lived in the master bedroom. The first couple of months were good. In the sixth month, whenever I opened the closet, I just felt like there is a kind of force. Something pushed me! It looked like a wind… I just said I am superstitious because it is snowing, and all windows are closed. Right around 9 months, I knew. My friend slept in a sleeping bag. She said, “L, last night someone pulled my sleeping bag.” I said, “No you studied so hard that you don’t sleep well.” She said “No, it pulled my sleeping bag down six inches.” I said, “put the night light on and sleep.” The second night she told me again. “I saw the guy! He is white, not too tall, 5”2, 5”3. He pulled my sleeping bag to the waist.” I said, “You need a good sleep.”

Me: Did anything happen to you then?

L: After two days to her, the third day happened to me. I finished studying. I did not sleep yet. I put my books on my bed at around 4:30. I pull my blanket to my chest. My blanket is a king size blanket, 7 or 8 pounds. I did not close my eyes. Then the blanket got pulled up.

Me: Like floating?

L: (Eyes wide) Yeah.

Me: What the—

L: The blanket get pulled up four feet high, and you know your aunty is not out of mind, him and me we were pulling and then the blanket was pulled towards the corner of the room. I pulled it back three or four times, and my feet kicked to that corner. And I said “Come! Show me who you are!” and when I kicked, the blanket fell down. I did not see any person walk out, but I was so angry. I just went all over the house. My mouth is yelling. I said, “Show me, show me! Come out!” After that, I came back to the bed. This guy is so crazy! My hands just pulled from me forcefully! I said, “Come out! You come out!” It looked like I saw somebody walk out into the closet. I cannot sleep anymore. From that day, whenever we got home, it looked like panic, you know? I cannot sleep. I’m too tired, but my eyes were wide open.

Me: Wow.

L: I went down to the apartment manager the next day and I said, give me the room story. She pretends to be innocent; you know because we’re Asian. I said, “me and my roommate, we got haunted. You need to disclose the history to me.” And that girl said, “A guy hanged and died inside the room.”

Me: Oh my god.

L: I straight said to her, “Is he hanged inside the master bedroom closet?” She said yes. That’s why I said, my bedroom, in the closet, I feel it. And I said, “is that the white guy approximately 5”2 or 5”3?” She said it’s that guy. Hanged in the closet and die.” I said, “I need the return. I can’t stay in that room.” And she said, “You signed the whole year contract. You cannot.” Our school is sponsor, so the case go back to the school. I insisted to get a refund. The dean called me. He told me I cannot break the contract. We just have to stay there for three more months.

Me: How’d you even survive for three more months?

L: That professor at my school helped us. He is Catholic. He said, “L, you just invite that guy to the church on Sunday. At church tell him to get peace. He is in limbo.” I called my cousin and he called the Burmese monk and sent me a cassette and the holy water. And the Buddhist monk just teach me “don’t fight with him. He is already in the bad stage.” We went to the Walmart and bought the recorder and we played the monks chanting the Dhama. When it stopped we had to flip the tape (laughs). Then we sprayed the room with holy water.

Me: Wow. You tried everything huh.

L: (laughs) Yeah. After that the ghost did not bother us anymore.

Me: What do you think about it now that you’re older?

L: I feel sorry for the ghost. It was in limbo. You know now I am praying more and more religious than back then. Now I pray for those type of people that are stuck in the limbo.

Interpretation:

I was surprised at how extensive and scary the haunting was. I have always known L to be a very confident and logical woman, so the fact that she was so terrified of this ghost scares me. While I do not doubt the authenticity of her experience, I wonder if stress played any role in heightening her fear. She was attending pharmacy school while working at a restaurant, only getting around 5 hours of sleep every night. I also wonder why she did not sue to get out of her contract. As we learned in class, failing to disclose a death on a property can get a realtor in legal trouble. Nevertheless, it was an interesting story from someone that I would have least expected this kind of story from.

A Spirit Still At Home

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 46
Occupation: construction worker
Residence: Syracuse, NY
Date of Performance/Collection: October 22, 2020
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

I am interviewing my uncle, who had a son (my cousin) that died last year to an overdose of pills. The informant believes that after his son’s untimely death, strange sightings occurred that made him believe he was seeing signs of his son’s spirit from the dead.

Me: How exactly did your son die?

Uncle: He passed away from an overdose of sleeping pills. He was having trouble sleeping for many weeks and one morning, he didn’t come down for breakfast. I went up to his room and he was in his bed unconscious. The ambulance came right away but it was too late.

Me: Do you think it was suicide, or rather a mistake?

Uncle: my wife and I believe it was a mistake. DJ was having a hard time in his freshman year of college and came home in a state of depression, but we don’t think he was trying to take his life.

Me: And what is it that seemed strange after his untimely death?

Uncle: After DJ passed, I had multiple situations where I saw signs of him. We put an electric candle that turns on at night in his bedroom window. One morning on my way to work a few weeks after his death, I peered up at his window and saw the candle flickering on and off, which is not supposed to happen during the day.

Me: What else has been strange since he has passed?

Uncle: The other thing that happened which made me believe DJ was still here in some way was with my cameras I have in the backyard to watch birds. There was one beautiful, rare bird that I had never seen in my camera after decades of watching. A few days after DJ’s death, the bird not only came across on my camera, but perched up on the branch next to it and sat there staring for minutes at it.

Me: What do you think the message or sign of this was?

Uncle: If you ask me, I think it was a final way for DJ to say “fuck you” for being bad parents. My wife just thinks it was a sign from him to get our attention.

Me: Has any other sightings happened?

Uncle: Every once in a while, as I’m walking up to my room for bed, I pass by DJ’s room and look in quickly. There have been a few times where I hear his voice or get a flash at him in his room, but every time I run in quickly the room is empty. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve had too many drinks, or if I really do hear and see him still in his room.

This story has a place in my heart because it was my own cousin, who I never imagined would try to commit suicide. Looking at some of these strange occurrences that my uncle has dealt with, he seems to think that DJ wants to be seen or heard from his parents still. He claims that part of this may be because of his untimely death, or perhaps because they don’t believe they treated him right. He says in the interview that he believes it’s a final “fuck you” to him and his wife, and I can verify that DJ was the type to show hatred, but I don’t believe that this was the reasoning for these signs. His father also acknowledges that he may just be forcing these signs on himself to try and remember DJ, or to deny the fact that he is gone. Sometimes when he sees a glimpse of DJ or hears him from upstairs, he convinces himself that he’s too drunk or crazy, but it is not unlikely that DJ’s spirit is still within the house. After all, he did die in that bedroom in a way that is untimely. My uncle is not a religious person, but he agrees with my take that DJ’s life may be gone, but his spirit could still be with them in their home. The description by my uncle of the bird sighting he had was especially intriguing to me. The one bird my uncle could never capture on camera for decades gives him minutes of video staring directly into the camera, almost trying to be seen. This makes me wonder how much of a connection this has to how DJ wanted to be seen, heard, or felt by his parents. I’m not saying he reincarnated into that bird in his afterlife, but I would like to think that DJ’s spirit would have the power to create a situation that would make his father happier in such a hard time. Seeing someone that myself and many others loved for his strong will, maturity and sense of humor leave so suddenly (potentially through self harm) was very hard on our family, especially my uncle. Whether my uncle truly did have connections with DJ’s spirit through these sightings is a mystery to us all, but I still have reasonable belief that these were no coincidence. The untimely death, the way he passed, and where he passed all cause me to think that maybe DJ’s spirit is still in the comforts of his home, watching over his parents and enjoying the peace he always wanted.

Fort Ord Suicide Ghost Story

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 19
Occupation: Student
Residence: Salinas, Ca
Date of Performance/Collection: April 20, 2020
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Main Piece:

Here is a transcription of my (CB) interview with my informant (HH).

CB: “Can you tell me about Fort Ord?”

HH: “Okay so i heard this story about the old Fort Ord barracks and how they got abandoned because there was this soldier who… um… was apparently was like ignored and really unhappy for a long time and he would like talk about seeing ghosts and a couple people thought that he was like maybe schizophrenic. But he…uh… he ended up hanging himself in the barracks in front of a bunch of his fellow soldiers. And then, after he died, a bunch of people would say that they could like still hear his warnings and like his stories of seeing things. And hear his footsteps. Its really simple and kinda stupid, but that’s what I heard about the old Fort Ord barraks. And thats why they had to shut everything down because it was like affecting their life and the government was getting backlash for it”

CB: “So, where did you hear this story?”

HH: “Um, it was from someone I knew in high school.”

CB: “What do you think is the meaning behind the story?”

HH: “Um, I think it was that um… the government doesn’t really care about our soldiers and their mental health”

CB: “Why do you think people tell the story”

HH: “I think that it’s still very much a problem. Like for soldiers who come back from active duty and they suffer from PTSD, they just don’t really have a lot of resources or outreach. Like they do now a little more that mental health is on the front line of peoples worries, but even now i still think soldiers are kinda shamed for having it.”

Background:

My informat grew up in Salinas, California, which is just minutes from Fort Ord. The fort was abandoned in the 90’s, and there have been all sorts of mysterious stories about the abandonment. The community had a very close relationship with the The old barracks of the fort are a known hangout spot for teens, and with that comes all sorts of ghost stories.

Context:

I had actually called my informant’s mother to interview her about folklore, but my informant overheard the conversation and told me this story. My informant and her mom were in the car, and they told me this story while driving around Salinas. The conversation was fun and casual.

Thoughts: 

I think that ghost stories naturally present themselves whenever there is an abandoned structure. I think that ghost stories are particularly common when dealing with american teen culture.  However, I think that it’s really interesting what the stories reveal about what that culture values at that time. Most of the ghost stories that I’ve heard place little emphasis on who the ghost used to be, just on the death and the haunting. But this story explains a history of untreated mental illness as the reason for the death, and possibly even the haunting. It places a clear blame on the US government for neglecting their soldiers. A lot of the more recent movements for mental health awareness and help have been led by young people, and so it makes sense that the folklore that young people tell would begin to incorporate their values.

Guang Hua has 30 floors; a jump solves a thousand troubles.

--Informant Info--
Nationality: China
Age: 18
Occupation: Student
Residence:
Date of Performance/Collection: Apr. 24, 2019
Primary Language: Chinese
Other Language(s):

Context
The informant is a freshman at Fudan University. We were talking about our lives as college students when she brought up this item.

Piece
光华三十楼,一跃解千愁
Roman form: Guang Hua san shi lou, yi yue jie qian chou.
Transliteration: Guang Hua thirty floors, a jump solves a thousand troubles.
Full translation: All trouble will be solved if you jump from the top of the 30-story-tall Guanghua Building.

Analysis
According to my informant, Guanghua Building is 2 strangely tall buildings at Fudan University. They are 30-story tall, while most other buildings are only 4-5 story tall. Facilities in the buildings are mainly offices.
Besides, this is a parody of a Chinese line from an old book called Zeng Guang Wen Xian

三杯通大道,一醉解千愁
Roman form: San bei tong da dao, yi zui jie qian chou.
Transliteraition: 3 cups to big road, a drunk solves a thousand trouble.
Full translation: A few shots of alcohol delight people, while being drunk solves all the trouble.

The original line explained how alcohol kills all the bad mood. In the parodic version, suicide is likened to alcohol, because once you are dead, you wouldn’t need to worry about anything else. As a parody, this item sounds like it should be dealt with seriously, which adds to its funniness. For the students, they are aware of and even empathetic with college students who commit suicide, especially as a result of academic anxiety. By expressing this possible outcome in a funny way, the students find a solution to solve a cognitive disagreement: a) to kill off anxiety in an extreme way; b) to never think about extreme conducts such as committing suicide.

Casa del Prado Cinderella

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Filipino-American
Age: 24
Occupation: Student
Residence: Los Angeles, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/26/2017
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Informant: Joshua is a 24-year-old student living in Southern California. He formerly lived in San Diego before moving to Los Angeles. He used to work at the Casa del Prado, a prominent theater in San Diego. Notably, the Casa del Prado is attached to a tall clock tower.

Main Piece:
Josh: “Supposedly, at the Casa del Prado, they were putting on a performance of Cinderella. The lead actress went missing one night and they were looking all around for her. Apparently, over by the clock tower, when the clock hit 7, people saw her body fall from the tower and hit the ground.”

Interviewer: How did she fall?

Josh: “Well, nobody knows, but according to some people, it looked like she was pushed out by somebody.”

Interviewer: And there was no sign of who pushed her?

Josh: “That’s just it. The doors to the clock tower were all locked. She shouldn’t have even been able to get up there. Nobody came out of the tower after, but some people said that occasionally you could see her ghost backstage.”

Background Information about the Performance: The informant was told this story as a teenager while working as an actor at the Casa del Prado. It was his first show and the piece was performed to him by the stage manager.

Context of Performance: The piece was performed backstage in the dark.

Thoughts: This story almost seems to be part of a hazing experience. The informant was young at the time and just started acting at the Casa del Prado. The stage manager could have intended to scare him as part of his induction into the group of people working at the theater.

Bay Area Ghost Story

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Irish, German, Portuguese
Age: 52
Occupation: Insurance Salesman
Residence: Redwood City California
Date of Performance/Collection: March 31st, 2017
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Informant EB is 52 years old and recounted the story of a paranormal encounter he experienced last fall:

Have you ever experienced anything that you would consider to be of supernatural origins?

“As a matter of fact, I have. First some backstory. When my wife and I were purchasing our home we were told by the realtor that the prior owner, a contractor who had built the house himself,  had committed suicide along the side of the house due to financial difficulties and his wife leaving him. Early last November, a day or two after Halloween, I was walking my aging dog whose hips are starting to fail around the walkway surrounding our property in order to avoid her straining herself by climbing up the stairs inside. Upon rounding a corner, which due to tree cover and a lack of windows on that side of the house was submerged in near complete darkness,  I saw, for only a split-second, what could only be described as a face come rushing at me before passing right through sending a curdling chill down my spine. My dog started barking incessantly and I, obviously shake, continued on into the light of the front of the house and inside.”

Did your opinion regarding the existence of the paranormal changed after this experience?

“Yeah I’d say so. I wouldn’t say I didn’t believe in the paranormal prior to this experience but having never had any personal encounters I definitely had my fair share of doubts. I’definitely say this experience has solidified my belief in the existence of the supernatural to some extent.”

What context would you share your experience in?

“I have told several people in the month since. Whenever talk of ghosts has come up in conversation I’ve brought it up.”

How did people react to your experience?  

“A mixture of fear and skepticism. I would be skeptical too had I not been the one to experience it. ”

 

Analysis: The story took place “a day or two after Halloween” meaning it quite likely could have fallen on November 2nd, which is also All Souls Day. All Souls Day is a day on which the Catholic Church remembers those dead that are now in Purgatory being cleansed of their venial sins and carrying out the temporal punishments for their mortal sins. November 1st or 2nd is also a part of the three days of Day of the Dead festivities popular in Hispanic cultures during which the souls of ancestors are remembered and are believed to return from the dead to visit their living relatives. As such the soul of a man who had died via the mortal sin of suicide would, according to the catholic doctrine and Hispanic customs be more likely to appear during this time frame. A motif common to many ghost stories and which also appears in this story is its occurrence in a liminal location, the property line between the former homeowner’s property and that of his neighbors.

Moki Hana – the Haunted Dormitory

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 18
Occupation: Student
Residence: Honolulu, HI
Date of Performance/Collection: March 17, 2016
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

The informant is an 18-year-old college student attending university in Hawaii. She was born and raised in the Bay Area, California, but has a great deal of family living in Hawaii who she visited frequently when growing up. While I was on a hike with the informant in San Ramon, California over spring break, she was describing her dorm to me and began to tell the story of how it came to be haunted.

“I live in a dorm called Moki Hana on campus. I first heard of the ghost from my RA, he told us about it on the first day we moved in. There’s a closet on my floor on the side of the bathroom with a sink in it that is used as a janitor’s closet. In the 80s a freshman hung himself in that closet, on my floor, and his ghost haunts the tower. The Resident Assistants have to stay in the dorms over the summer and one night one of them felt a really sharp pain on her chest and couldn’t get up, and she refused to sleep in the dorms for a few weeks. You’re not supposed to sleep with your feet to the door because it’s a way for spirits to enter your body. Also nobody will go to the bathroom during witching hour because they don’t want to encounter him. I just try to be respectful when I’m talking about it, especially if I’m in the dorms. Anywhere on campus or in the local vicinity they call the dorm ‘Moki Haunted.’”

In this ghost story, a tragic event that actually took place in the Moki Hana dormitory, the suicide of a freshman student, is transformed into a persistent haunting that affects any student who lives in the dorms. Upon hearing of this, I was reminded of previous conversations that I have had with the informant in which she has emphasized that Hawaii has an extensive history of spirituality, and I believe that this coupled to the sense of isolation and unfamiliarity that many college freshman face when moving to an island away from home serves to amplify the fear instilled within the students who are placed in Moki Hana dorm. The informant’s Resident Adviser may or may not believe in the ghost, but I think that his purpose in informing the freshman who live in the haunted dorm about it is in part to make them aware, but moreso to provide a sense of unity among the residents and as a way of initiating them into the dorm, as for the year they live in Moki Hana the common fear of encountering or upsetting the ghost of the student who committed suicide there will function to bring the residents together.

Tadpole Song

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 49
Occupation: Engineer
Residence: San Jose, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: 3/20/15
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

I think I’ll eat a tadpole,

maybe even a bug.

I’ve got some worms down in the garden

that I recently dug.

You said you didn’t love me,

you told me it was true,

so darling this is really, really,

what I’m gonna do.

 

I think I’ll eat a tadpole,

then I’ll lay down and die

and you’ll be sorry,

oh so sorry,

that you told me goodbye.

 

So if you really love me,

just tell me with a hug

before I eat a tadpole or a bug.

I really mean it,

before I eat a tadpole or a bug.

 

The informant was my father, a 49-year-old engineer who currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, but who grew up in the area surrounding Austin, Texas. The song is one that his mother used to sing to him and his siblings when they were little. The informant says his mother had a beautiful singing voice and would either sing hymns or songs like this before the children would go to bed because she was always in charge of this activity. He says it is interesting to him because “it must have come from some popular pop music of some age” and he “almost suspect[s] that it’s a fragment, but it was passed down to us as a whole,” “almost a vignette.” He also heard it from his older sister as she was learning to sing it for her children. He performs it because it reminds him of his mother, but also because “it’s just, it’s the cutest concept of a song . . . you know, it’s a child’s concept of love combined with a child’s concept of mortality. Uh, you know, you left me, I’m gonna basically hold my breath and die if you don’t come back. You know, and eating a tadpole is going to kill you, you know, it’s just all, I just love the construction and the cuteness of it.” He sees it as a way of teaching children that breaking somebody’s heart is a big deal. He also admits that the whole thing is “a little twisted.”

 

This song was collected while I was home for Spring Break and performed in my living room. It was interesting to me because my father also used to sing it to me and my sister when we were children. It’s a song with a nice tune that seems harmless, but it has lyrics that are actually pretty dark. I remember it as being sad when I was much younger, but looking at it now it strikes me that the subject of the song is suicide, even if the narrator is not going to die from eating a tadpole. I think the song is mainly meant to be cute and entertaining, but I also agree somewhat with the informant’s assessment that the song is about teaching children the effect their actions and words can have on another person.

 

A version of this song was performed and released (“I Think I’ll Eat a Tadpole”) by Sue Thompson in 1966. Thompson’s version has the above version as its chorus and additional verses. While the chorus is recognizable as the informant’s version, many of the words have been changed and the overall tone of the song is different. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHnlZfJAHT0

Thompson, Sue. "I Think I'll Eat a Tadpole." The Country Side of Sue Thompson. Ridgeway Music, 1966. CD.

La Casa Matusita B

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Peruvian
Age: 62
Occupation:
Residence: San Francisco, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: December 17,2012
Primary Language: Spanish
Other Language(s):

During the 19th century, the house was inhabited by a migrant Chinese (sometimes Japanese) family. The father worked very hard and came back late at night every day. One day, he came back earlier and was surprised to hear strange noises coming from his and his wife’s bedroom. He went there and fount his wife in bed with a lover, irate, he grabbed a knife and hacked them both up into pieces. When his kids got home, he decided to kill them as well since he saw no feasible explanation of his deeds and he didn’t want them to hate him. After that, he committed suicide.
While property records show that a Chinese family did indeed live in the house during the early 19th century, there is no proof that the above events transpired. This story’s popularity however could be attributed to lingering xenophobia, staring from the mid 19th century to the early 20th century, there was a very large wave of Chinese migrants to Lima. These immigrants were brought to Lima under false pretenses of wealth and opportunity when in reality, they were brought to collect guano since there was a dearth of cheap labor in Lima (the remaining Africans who were brought over as slaves were too few and the indigenous population had fled to the Andes to avoid being enslaved). These Chinese immigrants suffered horrendously and died by the thousands; however, there was a good number who survived the Guano age and established themselves in the city. In spite of their work which had brought an immense level of prosperity for Lima, these migrants were viewed with distrust by the Peruvians of European descent and were actively discriminated against. This version of the story is a vestige of that sentiment.

Japanese girl’s suicide drawing

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Korean-American
Age: 23
Occupation: Student
Residence: Los Angeles, California
Date of Performance/Collection: 3/23/13
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

My informant tells me this story of a teenage girl in Japan who drew a drawing Japan shortly before she committed suicide. The story and drawing went viral in Asia. In the forums online, it is said that you can see the girl’s sadness in the eyes of the girl in the picture. Forums warn against staring into the girls eyes for longer than 5 minutes, telling me that people have committed suicide after doing it. According to my informant, people say the picture changes,as you view it there is a hint of a growing taunting smirk appearing on the girls lips or a dark ring grows around the girl or her eyes.

Me: “Have you looked into the picture for five minutes?”

Informant: “No! I thought it wasn’t a big deal, but it’s really scary when you actually try it! I can’t meet the girl’s eyes for more than a few seconds because I’m afraid of what I will see!”

Me: “Do you believe that people have committed suicide from looking at the picture?”

Informant: Not really… I don’t think they did. But it’s a freaky story, so I don’t know.

Analysis: Through my research, I could not find any solid news articles to support the claim that people have committed suicide after looking at this drawing, though many people claim there are hundreds. Furthermore, I found some forum posts that claim a video-game designer in Japan was the real artist of the portrait and that he was still alive and well. Some forum posts claim that because the image has a blurry quality to it, if you stare at it for too long, your vision will get blurry as well and you are under the illusion that the picture is changing before your eyes. This also has to do with the image being seen on a digital screen.

Because of the context of the story and the atmosphere in which it is often read, this will help induce fear and influence a person’s response. This most likely is an elaborate internet hoax, much like a chain email letter. People enjoy being scared because it provides an adrenaline rush which can be extremely addicting.

My informant is 23, Korean-American, and currently studying at USC (expected graduation 2013). She first saw the picture and heard the story when she was in high school, approximately 16 years of age.