• Indra Balmer

About Suicide - Part 2

I remember a German lesson a few months after the death of my aforementioned classmate. We were discussing a reading in which the protagonist had committed suicide and, as a result, we discussed the motives for suicide. Our teacher asked us what we personally thought about suicide. What opinion we had on the subject and whether we could understand such a decision. The opinions among my classmates differed greatly and three "currents" or opinions could be crystallised on the question of how we felt about suicide.

The first one feels it is courageous to take one's own life and to put an end to one's own existence. Because you don't know what awaits you after this life. Whether there is a heaven or a hell, whether you will be reborn or whether the "great nothing" awaits you afterwards. By committing suicide, you make a decision that you can no longer reverse. It seems courageous to leave behind everything you know (and maybe even love) and to go into the unknown. And in the case that you don't really want to die, but other reasons (e.g. not wanting to be a burden on your family in case of illness) lead you to end your own life anyway, you probably also need a lot of strength to overcome (some might also call it courage).

Another opinion was that it is sad to view suicide as the end of a failed life. When you consider a person to have had such a bad time that they decide they don't want to go on living. If for this person the miracle of life and the beauty of our world are lost and insignificant - if he cannot find comfort in them. And especially when you imagine that it comes out of nowhere for friends and loved ones and that person must have felt so lonely and possibly had no one to share his/her feelings and fears with.

The last opinion was that it is selfish and cowardly to see suicide as an escape from even "the smallest problems in life". If one is of the opinion that these people cannot or do not want to face their problems and do not even try. When they are aware of the consequences of their actions, but simply do not care.

Depending on whether and which reasons for the suicide of a person are known, the attitude of the people and thus also of society to the individual cases of suicide changes. If, for example, it is known that the person in question suffered from depression, most people would probably perceive the death as sad. However, if it is an impulsive act, such as from lovesickness, many would probably describe the suicide as rash or even selfish. The attitude we take towards the phenomenon of suicide can vary greatly and can never be objective.

Dealing with death automatically leads to the question, what happens after death? Is there a heaven and a hell? Is there a spiritual and emotional salvation waiting for us? Will we be reborn? Or is there simply nothing? The latter is probably the most frightening idea. But for humans who want to end their lives because they can no longer withstand their pain, there is also a form of salvation in a "no more being". There are many different reasons that trigger a person's desire to die. But for all of them it is probably one thing: a way out where they can see no other way out. In his work "On Death as an Escape from the Pleasures of Life", Montaigne also sees death as a legitimate escape from the sufferings of life. He describes the ancient view "that it is time to die as soon as life shows more evil than good, and that its prolongation, if it becomes a burden and a torment to us, is even contrary to the laws of nature".

Suicide is therefore nothing other than the realisation of one's own mortality, the recognition of it as a way out and detachment from all earthly suffering and the early initiation of it.

I personally believe in destiny. I believe that every person can discover a purpose and a meaning for him or herself. But I cannot believe that it is a person's destiny to commit suicide. Nor do I want to believe that humans break down from fulfilling their destiny and therefore make the decision to commit suicide. I cannot believe that the violent, forced death of an individual is part of destiny and unfortunately I do not yet know how to reconcile this with my definition of destiny and my belief in it. But in my eyes, it is not an atrocity or even a sin to commit suicide, it is a decision of each individual that I have to respect.

Sometimes I wonder if my former classmate has achieved this, if he has found peace. I hope this very much - it is a thought that gives me comfort - to know or to be able to imagine that all those humans who take their own lives year after year have been freed from their suffering. I hope and pray for this to a God in whom I do not believe.

And in the meantime, I hope that in the near future, the subject of suicide will no longer be a taboo subject - that if you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, you can talk about it openly and be offered help. Because yes, there are already institutions today that can and want to help people with such problems, but there must also be a simultaneous, let's call it "recognition of the facts", within our society. The collective needs to stop thinking and talking about suicide in terms of brave, cowardly or sad, and instead adopt a completely different attitude to the issue - one that raises awareness of the problem itself, and of the prevalence of suicide within society. So that people with suicidal thoughts can be made to feel less ashamed, and perhaps dare to seek help more often. And even if this should apply to only one person in a hundred, this would help that one person and one was able to "save" a person's life.

Phone counselling: 0800 1110111

Help at Viadrina:

https://www.europa-uni.de/de/struktur/zse/zsb/psychologische_beratung/index.html


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