‘The thought of suicide is a great consolation: by means of it one gets through many a dark night.’ Nietzsche
Over at Huffington Post UK there is a post about suicide. In it the writer says,
‘When you’re suffering from depression the difficulty of the speed and pressure of the world can seem gargantuan. Sometimes the pressure breaks your brain and makes you wonder if you really belong to this world. Instead of trying to control the whirlwind of without, you are desperately attempting to quiet the storm within. I believe suicide isn’t an act of cowardice but part of an ongoing battle to quiet the storm. The way the storm ends is different for different people.’
Without doubt suicide is an extremely emotive and difficult topic to think and talk about.
Recently it was highlighted that a hundred men a week take their own lives in the UK whilst suicide rates in the USA continue to rise, particularly amongst men. Death through suicide is what kills most men under 50 in the UK. In 2014 75% of those who died by suicide were male.
The reasons behind this are unclear and will always be unclear by the very face of what suicide is.
It is good that people are talking about suicide and that people are beginning to feel able to write and share so openly about their own thoughts about suicide. Without open and honest dialogue and unconditional, loving, vulnerable relationships we will not find ways to help people when suicide appears the best and only consolation when living in those dark nights.
There are many different reasons why the suicidal storm rages, we are all unique. But in our uniqueness we also live in time and space that is shared, and that shared space impacts us all uniquely. Yet there is also the commonality to our unique experiences, the shared reality of how it feels to live in time and space. So today in the West whilst we are all wonderfully different and our perception of the world in relationship with others will be unique to us, we also recognise that shared perception of reality, trends within our society that spark in many of us.
Take for instance the Civil Rights Movement. People collectively knew that things needed to change, that oppression and persecution and discrimination needed to stop and so joined together to bring about radical transformation. Whilst each person’s experience of racism and oppression were unique to them, there was a collective ‘crying out’ that sparked revolution.
So for us here in the West there are things happening around us that collectively spark. Many are disillusioned by the political system, are tired of the blatant stealing, greed and deception of big business, banks, rich and powerful. There is a sense that we are told of greatness but that greatness is almost always out of reach. There is a sense of disconnectedness among us, of people ‘connected’ but not really in relationship and ultimately actually disconnected. People are concerned about many things, about money, about jobs, about family. Life.
So we look for a way to change things. We buy things we don’t need to make ourselves feel better.
And sometimes it may be for some that all of this is too much and the only way out is death.
Issues surrounding mental health are consistently handled poorly within the media and amongst the political elite. Money is consistently being withdrawn from mental health research, help and support. Without resources it is no wonder suicide rates are increasing in the West.
We need money invested into research and collaborative care to enable understanding, methods of holistic care and cultural research that seeks to understand the nature and character of why people, particularly males, see suicide as their only option.
This has to be a community effort, a coming together of people within their own communities seeking ways to tell a different story, bring hope and collectively walk alongside those who are suffering the dark night of the soul.
Girard’s mimetic theory is important within this whole area. Could it be that men are sacrificing themselves, believing themselves to be the cause and problem within our society? Could it be that through myth and prohibition a religion of consumerist sacrifice has been created in the West creating the myth of success, the prohibition of failure, the scapegoat of males who believe through their death society will be better off?
There are many unanswered questions, many studies that need to be done and many communities of hope that need to come together. Only when we start talking, sharing and opening up, naming the reality of suicide in our midst and giving the space to talk and express the reality of it will we even begin to stem the tide that breaks in waves of pain across our society.