I’m back again, and I’m sorry that I completely failed to update about my exchange experiences on this blog. I would, but it just isn’t my priority now.
Instead, I wanna write about a particular topic today: suicide.
Is it a taboo? Everybody knows what it is, but not everyone agrees on why it happened, and there is much debate about how to combat it.
The reason why I suddenly wanted to blog about this is because I just found out that Kpop idol Jonghyun from SHINee, has apparently committed suicide due to, in very general terms, depression.
I’m shocked, I’m sad, and it reminded me of another recent death- my grandmother’s. Just last year, around this time as well, she passed away. I’m not sure if it was a suicide, since her death was due to falling from a high building, but nevertheless, I felt like suicide awareness needs to be promoted, and mental health issues in general.
Why do people commit suicide? That is the question everyone has their own answers to.
Mental disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, personality disorders, substance abuse, as well as major life stresses such as financial difficulties, losing loved ones, troubled relationships and bullying. All these contribute to a higher risk of suicide. Other causes of suicide may include religious or extremist issues.
No matter the reason though, I think more importantly, is how we react to it. When I told my mum that Jonghyun had committed suicide, she immediately said that he was weak. Cowardly. Selfish. Why did he do it, when obviously, so many people loved him?
When I told my mum that Jonghyun had committed suicide, she immediately said that he was weak. Cowardly. Selfish.
Now, about five years ago, I might have agreed. I had felt before, that the person who suicided was selfish for abandoning all their loved ones and a shit of mess, for not trying to overcome it, at least for their loved ones, if not for themselves. For running away, for taking the easy way out. For not hanging on. Some people argue that the basic human instinct is to survive, to live. So suicide is obviously an “unnatural” act in that sense.
Yet, as I grew older, and took up psychology, and learnt more about mental health in general, I started to see suicide in a different light. I still see it as an extreme form of act, but I no longer immediately condemn those who do it. Perhaps the turning point was when I was in a state of depression, and yes, I did consider suicide. I know it was unlikely and just a passing thought, but in that state of mind, thoughts about it just crossed my mind. And that was only when I had a mild form of depression. For people who were pushed to their limits, to their wits’ end, to a state where they can only see suicide as not an option, but the only way out, how could you blame them for being “weak, cowardly, or selfish”? You do not know the circumstances that led them to that decision, you do not know how many times they may have reached out, you do not know what they know, and what they don’t. Just think for a moment: Why would a rational person choose suicide over the many other options that could’ve been possible? If suicide was really the easy way out, then everybody would’ve taken it. But the fact is that it isn’t “the easy way out”, but the only way that people in a certain state of mind can see. Is it unnatural to feel suicidal if you feel alone, if you lost all your loved ones, if you had nothing to live for, if you had no purpose or meaning in life? Many argue that, life always has a purpose. Well, duh, if you think so. But obviously the person feeling suicidal don’t think that way. Kids and teenagers being bullied. People shamed for being fat or gay. Soldiers or even civilians who feel immense guilt for not saving their comrades. What do they have in common?
People say suicide is never rational. Well, there are many instances of people taking their life with much consideration and plans. Killing yourself so the rest can have enough food to survive. Is it an act of courage? Or stupidity? Circumstances probably matter, but it is easier to condemn than to think about the reasons and thoughts that led to a suicide. Why should I waste time listening to a person’s reason for their suicide, when I can assume that all suicides = wrong?
Circumstances probably matter, but it is easier to condemn than to think about the reasons and thoughts that led to a suicide.
Perhaps we should feel blessed and lucky that we will never understand why people commit suicide.
The point of this post is not to promote suicide or see it as the norm, nor accept suicide as it is. It is to hopefully bring about much needed discussion about suicide and mental health, and to reduce it as much as possible. Once you understand the thoughts and behaviours behind a suicide, can one then reduce it.
My tips when you think someone is feeling suicidal?
1. Stay calm and listen to them attentively. Be non-judgmental and accepting.
Always, always listen actively. Do not disrupt them unnecessarily, and do not listen just to come up with an argument or reply in your head. Just listen.
2. Paraphrase to them what you just heard.
After listening, this is the time for you to talk. Repeat or paraphrase what you just heard to them. This helps to lead to a better understanding of what you think you gathered from them, and also to assure them that you have heard their words.
3. Offer hope.
I think this is immensely important. Let the person know you care, and that they are important to you.
If you’d like to learn more, please visit https://www.helpguide.org/articles/suicide-prevention/suicide-prevention.htm because they have a much more comprehensive guide and offers a much better explanation than I do in this post.
Suicide is something an outsider would not understand. Be inside it. Help tackle it.
// On an unrelated note, I have been feeling empty and finding meaning in my life again, ever since a few months ago. I’ve read http://milkthepigeon.com which proved to be helpful, especially since I am currently in a “lost period” right now. And I was just thinking, helping to prevent suicide is one of the very meaningful things that one can do. https://sos.org.sg/
Apparently, at least in Singapore, you have to be at least 23 years old in order to volunteer to be a listening ear for their suicide prevention hotlines, but this would be one thing I’d be willing to do and consider once I am of age and of emotional maturity.
// Other notes: I felt like I had mild depression for a while, and I was relieved to see a counsellor. I told one of my friends, and I guess he didn’t really care. I mean, I know, he’s probably tired of my rants already. I told another, and he told me that my life had nothing to be depressed about. I know both of them care for me very much, and did try to reassure me of their support. Yet, I realise, these words could kind of harm people if said carelessly. So yup, just my experience. A learning point, because lol I get to kind of see from the perspective of what it is like to be depressed, yet blessed enough to recover from it.