I am troubled by the comments I hear reputable people make about the suicidal; they are vile, devoid of empathy and reek of disdain. The culture here is unapologetic in it’s stigmatization of suicide. Surprisingly though, it seems to be with good intent: to discourage those that are contemplating suicide from actually killing themselves.
Thinking about suicide, I am faced with two questions: who is the victim and how should they be helped? First, who is the real victim of suicide? If you are religious, you most probably believe that a person that commits suicide has earned themselves a sure way to hell in which case they have received their due punishment for their sin. If you are not religious, maybe atheist, you probably believe that a person that commits suicide has made the biggest loss possible; because we only live once and this person has given up their only chance at enjoying the pleasures of life. In either case, religious or not, you probably believe that a person who commits suicide has made a terrible choice that no person of sound mind can make. Religious or not, the suicide costs more the dead than the living that remain to judge them for their stupidity and selfishness; that they would dare inconvenience us the people that love and care for them with their death.
Secondly,how do we help those that are prone to suicide, or rather, how do we stop them from making such a terrible mistake of willfully ending their lives? Consider this, it is apparent to you that committing suicide is not the solution to the troubles of this world and you rightly believe that your reasoning should be shared by all other grown ass men and women in their right minds. Therefore a person that does not get this reasoning has something amiss in their head and a good person should be concerned with helping them overcome this impairment in judgment that leads them to considering committing suicide.
Clearly, stigmatization has not stopped the living from committing suicide or else the vice would have been stumped out ages ago, at least in Uganda where the cadavers of victims of suicide are whipped and denied a proper burial. In fact, I am of the view that our current management of the problem of suicidality is instead perpetuating it. When we stigmatize suicide, we might just be shutting out those that are suicidal from seeking help because we in effect say to them that they only have themselves to blame for their lack of reasoning or at least they are a mistake of evolution that should be corrected by natural selection.
Therefore, in the management of suicidality, avoid stigmatization. If you have nothing of value to offer a person that has successfully of their own volition terminated their life or a person considering oblivion as a viable solution to the challenges of this world, you do well to avoid opining about their unique and highly personalized experience and perception of life and death.
Featured image: Hanging by the rope