When I confessed in a post that I suffer from depression, a lot of my friends took interest in my mental health. A few (very few) were willing to consider my claims but the vast majority were not buying it. They thought that I was over appraising my symptoms and that basing on their own observations, I was a very happy guy. Now I know I was wrong to diagnose myself as I couldn’t have been objective about it. I have been psychoanalyzed by a specialist but his verdict was not to the specificity that I offered in that post. For this reason, I have since deleted that post from here. Nonetheless, I still have depressive symptoms from time to time which is how I have the audacity to continue writing about it.
While in high school, we had these things called assemblies where we’d all gather as students and teachers to pass on important communication and receive words of wisdom from our headteacher. They usually happened on Monday evenings when most of us were tired from a long hard day especially considering that Monday comes after the weekend and so most people haven’t quite regained their pace. Therefore, most headteachers’ communications which came last on the agenda found me uninterested and inattentive. However, my ear is highly sensitive to statements that border on the ages of sanity. Like this one time, my mind had wandered off to who knows where when I heard the headteacher give us advice on how to uneventfully end our lives by simply piercing our jugulars and bleeding to death arguing that it was a fairly easy way to commit suicide rather than making a declaration of our intentions and thereafter failing miserably in our endeavors. Again, my mind had wandered off so I don’t quite remember the context of his statements.
Today I want to explore why some people make a big deal of their suicides instead of choosing the less invasive way of leaving uneventfully; why people jump off of high buildings instead of dying in the privacy of their own homes, why they leave suicide notes and why they choose elaborate failure prone suicide plans over concise fool-proof tried and proved methods of committing suicide. Now, some of these choices are limited by lack of knowledge but there could be some that are deliberately elaborate and indiscreet for the purpose of making one last call for attention to the person’s pain.
Think about this, why is suicide an emergency? Because the person is at risk of losing their life and their death will reflect badly on our practice as a failure to save a life? Do you know what is not an emergency; unemployment, lack of education, homelessness, bereavement, chronic debilitating illness… for as long as none of these situations push you to the edge, we are not concerned about you, deal with it.
I am not suggesting that we treat everyone that has experienced an adverse life event like a ticking bomb but that we seriously consider the subtler cries for help before one takes to the roof if only to be heard at least once or at least in death. Depression is characterized by absurd misconceptions of oneself and others that often hinder one from seeking help even from those that would be willing and able to provide it. When one attempt to finding help is ignored, we are one step closer to the final call.
Featured Image: help wallpaper
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