Opinion: Suicide

POSTED: 11/18/11 5:06 AM

We received a rather poignant letter about a subject that is not at the top of most people’s to-do list in the morning: suicide.
The letter writer claims that a lot of people are about to commit suicide and that this is a consequence of the lack of respect the government shows to citizens, and employers show to employees.
The letter contains expressions that do not need pa full sentence to understand the drift: most vulnerable citizens, unemployment, exploitation, and moral harassment.
We usually do not have a problem publishing letters to the editor, but in this case we opt to mention the letter, and the writer’s wish to talk about the subject on the Lloyd Richardson radio show.
It is, by all means, a heartfelt letter. Take this sentence for instance: “We all have a heart and I think we all are morally responsible to use it properly.”
Taken in context, the letter makes a case for all those silent citizens who are crying out for help while nobody hears them.
Well, you know, that’s fine. We have our own thoughts about suicide, and they go in a different direction.
During a personal growth training we took in the United States years ago, a trainer once famously said to his class about one of the participants who was said to have suicidal tendencies: “Who are you to think that you have the right to rob him of that experience?”
It took some effort to digest the true meaning of this remark. Now we know that everything people do in their life, and with their life, comes down to choices. In most cases, not counting armed robberies, nobody holds a gun to your head when a choice has to be made.
And those everyday choices are quite mundane. What job do I want? What do I want to study? What do I want to spend my money on? What’s for dinner tonight?
The list is endless, and while one may choose to become a garbage collector and another opts for a career as a tort lawyer, while some want meat for dinner and others a vegetarian pizza, these choices are all free. One does not have to become a tort lawyer; one does not have to eat pizza for dinner.
When it comes to matters of life and death, moral crusaders line up in droves with their opinions. Our constitution says that we have the right to live, but it does not say that we have the right to closed to you forever. This is obviously only important for those who accept the concept of Heaven; since they usually accept the concept of Hell by extension, it makes sense for these infidels.
But what is the big deal, really? If somebody has had enough of life and takes the ultimate step, those that are left behind feel that they have failed. They should have seen it coming. They should have done something. But what?
We’re not promoting suicide, nor do we discourage it. It is one of the – admittedly less popular – free choices human beings have at their disposal.
We reject the letter writer’s opinion that people become suicidal because the government disrespects them, or because their employers exploit them. People end up in a situation, any situation, due to free choices they have made in their life.
Maybe they chose not to study; maybe they married the wrong girl; or they went to live in the wrong neighborhood, made the wrong friends, spent more money than they could reasonably afford, stole so much from their employer that they’d rather die than face the music – and on and on.
The reasons why people commit suicide are myriad, and they are not necessarily bad. Of course, a suicide leaves society in general and family and friends in particular behind with the feeling that they have somehow failed. Maybe that is true, and maybe that is a good reason to look at the Benetton campaign we describe elsewhere on this page from a different point of view.

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