Tuesday, 13 April 2010

The S Word...

I see that Suicide is becoming a hot topic again on a few of the blogs I follow.  It's another of those emotive issues that is almost guaranteed to polarise opinions.  Having been around suicide and those who have attempted it, some successfully, it is odd to find people with no personal experience writing as if they fully understood the motives that people have for taking their own life.  Further these "experts" all to easily jump to an assumption that the perpetrator has full control of their faculties, is rational, and is fully aware of the implications of what they are doing. 
As I recently wrote on another blog, suicide was deemed a sin at a time in history when almost nothing was understood about mental illness, and it was commonly viewed as possession by demons/devils/evil spirits.  It seems that some people have not moved on. 
I find it shocking that these self appointed arbiters of right and wrong can burden the surviving members of the family and loved ones with such guilt and shame that one of their relatives/loved ones has ended his/her life in this way.  Again, where is the compassion, understanding, sensitivity and plain common decency!

1 comment:

  1. To be frank I don't families who are mourning a suicide are that bothered about external ideas of shame and sin. They're too busy completely cracking up because someone they love has killed themself.

    Suicide is an astonishingly selfish thing to do. Families in which there is a suicide never recover. There is no resolution to the guilt. It's that knowledge that has held me back when despair fills me. I couldn't bear to leave people I love in such agony. Better to bear it myself.

    There is also a strong anger motif in a fair proportion of suicides. "Then they'll be sorry" is not uncommon a theme, I'm sad to say. When family annihilators wipe out their kids and themselves they do so to destroy the surviving parent.

    So suicide is a mixed bag. Some of those who kill themselves are entirely irrational, others are very angry. Some do it as a perfectly reasonable exit from intolerable lives or health.

    I think that, just as they used religious taboo to prevent people eating high risk foods, the idea that suicide is a huge sin was an attempt by religious leaders to deter people from taking such an extreme step. May not be the most sensitive approach, but I bet it worked.

    These days the Church in the UK treats suicides with great compassion. I bet there are Christian communities where the whole sin and stigma are still wheeled out, but not round here.