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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Breaking the Silence on Suicide

I have always wondered what makes people so depressed to the point of taking their own lives. After listening to two friends who admitted to having suicidal thoughts, I think I know the answer. One of my friends lost her brother last year, and the other constantly struggled to get good grades in her exams. Putting myself in their shoes, I imagined what would happen to me if I were to oscillate between moods of extreme happiness and extreme sadness. Taking a trip down memory lane, I would probably remember the friends who were mere wolf in sheep’s clothing, the bullying that I underwent in my childhood, the desire to fit in that made me go to extreme lengths, and the hope that one person could truly love and appreciate me just the way I am. Essentially, I would have to live the life of a manic-depressive.

Manic-depressives have to deal with a disease that eats up their zest for life. Helpless in the face of pessimism, they only need to determine the time when to kill themselves. Although suicide is a delicate subject, I sincerely wish that society would be more open in talking about it. As we focus more on upcoming lifestyle diseases, we tend to forget that suicide still comes with a fast paced lifestyle focused on self-awareness. No one simply wakes up one day and decides to end his or her life; only mentally disturbed people engage in such thoughts. Yet my friends, healthy and full of life, found themselves in this entrapment.

Had they chosen to end their lives, they would have required a firm conviction that their lives would never improve, even if they lived one more day. Caught in the final stage of this conviction, they would fearlessly execute the final irreversible act. Luckily, my friends never had enough courage to take their own lives. Abandoning their suicidal thoughts, they chose to focus on the turmoil their deaths would cause their respective families. Still, not every suicidal person can reach this point. For these individuals, society may be somewhat responsible for the deaths. Most people have a support system—not necessarily a family, but people who surround us and form part of our immediate environment. Unfortunately, we may be so caught up in our own lives that we fail to see the pain in others’ lives. More importantly, we fail to see the point where they cross over. Only after the person is gone do we bother to investigate what triggered such a violent act. We judge them because we are convinced that they could have found happiness had they held on to their lives. The bitter truth is that we neither lived the lives they did nor experienced the pain that they had endured. Judging them will not answer the question that we ought to be asking ourselves, “What could we have done different?” It’s not enough to just blame them for hurting us, for not looking at the silver lining in the cloud. What we fail to understand is that perhaps their pain blinded them—their manic depression sucked life out of their lives. Living a painful pressured life, they eventually chose to take the easy way out.

After pondering on the lives of manic-depressives, I have decided not to jump to conclusions or judgments whenever I hear about a suicide. Instead I will ask myself: “Do I know someone who I can help?” And even if I don’t, I will remember to say a kind word to everyone: ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ to people who I don’t know, and ‘I love and appreciate you’ to people who I have formed intimate bonds with. I don’t know if my words will to save them from themselves, but I hope that suicide will make me appreciate everyone, even in the smallest of ways.

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