If you have experienced a loss as a result of suicide, my heart goes out to you. Each year millions of families receive the news that their loved-one has died under a variety of circumstances. Illness from a dis-ease, accidents, fires, murder, war, natural disasters and natural death. Somehow, someway and someday families will learn to live with that loss and hopefully make peace moving forward.
Not only do families suffer the loss, they also suffer the stigma associated with suicide. The inside and outside of the family speculation of what happened. The how, where, who was there, who found them, why and associated gossip. The family stunned as they try and mentally accept that our loved one “actually killed themselves.”
Having experienced the loss of two people in my life through suicide,I know the gossip and conclusions people make.
Below some of the I heard’s that people will spread.
Suicide: I heard…
“He was depressed for years.”
“I heard she tried to COMMIT suicide a few times, this time it worked.”
“I heard it was in the family. The family are a bit funny/crazy, weird, mental health problems run in the family.”
“I heard he had major financial problems and he couldn’t handle the guilt and shame of losing everything.”
“She was an alcoholic, he/she crashed the car killed a child and couldn’t live with the guilt.”
He/she was estranged from his family for years.”
“He was to proud to come home, was homeless for years.”
“She was being abused for years and just could take it anymore.”
“He/she wouldn’t get out of their marriage.”
“He was never the same after he lost his job. He worked for that company for 35 years.”
“He/she never got over the separation and divorce.”
“She/he drank himself to death.”
“It was drugs.”
“They were bullied.”
“Her parents put extreme pressure on him/her to do well at school, college, work.”
“He/she was gay and couldn’t live a lie.”
“His disease was incurable.
“I heard that he could never accept his losing his legs.”
“I heard he couldn’t live after the trauma and PTSD having serving in the army.”
The gossip and speculation is insult to injury.
Suicide through the ages a understanding
In general, the pagan world, both Roman and Greek, had a relaxed attitude towards the concept of suicide.
In Rome, suicide was never a general offense in law. Though the whole approach to the question was essentially pragmatic.
The Romans fully approved of what might be termed “patriotic suicide” Death an alternative to dishonor.
Attitudes towards suicide slowly began to shift during the Renaissance. Thomas More the English humanist, wrote in Utopia (1516). A person afflicted with disease can “free himself from this bitter life. By death he will put an end to torture. It will be a pious and holy action”. John Donne‘s work Biathanatos, contained one of the first modern defences of suicide bringing proof from the conduct of Biblical figures, Jesus, Samson and Saul. Presenting arguments on grounds of reason and nature to sanction suicide in certain circumstances.
In the Middle Ages, the Christian church excommunicated people who attempted suicide and those who died by suicide were buried outside consecrated graveyards. A criminal ordinance issued by Louis XIV of France in 1670 was far more severe in its punishment. The dead person’s body was drawn through the streets, face down and hung or thrown on a garbage heap. All of the person’s property was confiscated.
The secularisation of society that began during The Enlightenment questioned traditional religious attitudes toward suicide. David Hume denied that suicide was a crime as it affected no one and was potentially to the advantage of the individual.
In his 1777 Essays on Suicide and the Immortality of the Soul he rhetorically asked, “Why should I prolong a miserable existence. Because of some frivolous advantage which the public may perhaps receive from me?” A shift in public opinion at large can also be discerned; The Times in 1786 initiated a spirited debate on the motion “Is suicide an act of courage?”
By 1879, English law began to distinguish between suicide and homicide, although suicide still resulted in forfeiture of estate. In 1882, the deceased were permitted daylight burial in England and by the mid 20th century, suicide had become legal in much of the western world.
By the 19th-century, the act of suicide had shifted from being viewed as caused by sin to being caused by insanity in Europe. Although suicide remained illegal during this period, it increasingly became the target of satirical comment, such as the spoof advertisement in the 1839 Bentley’s Miscellany for a London Suicide Company or the Gilbert and Sullivan musical The Mikado that satirised the idea of executing someone who had already killed himself.
Coping with Suicide
We live in a society that accepts death from disease. Cancers, heart disease as somehow an affliction of which the individual has no control over. We as a society comfort and the families of the alcoholic, cancer patient, heart attack/stroke victim, we pay our respects, we try if we can to share their burden of grief.
I live in a society that reacts to suicide based on beliefs developed and personal experience.
Behind closed doors
The Unsympathetic say
- It’s a mortal sin, they will be condemned to the fires of Hell..
- They are Cowards
- They took the easy way out
- They are selfish. We all have to get out of our own problems, look what he did to his poor wife, children, selfish and cowardly act by a coward.
- They destroy families, they shouldn’t have done this to me/us….
- How could they do that to their poor families.
- Good riddens, he tortured his family with his depression for years… (This type of person may be a narcissist who feels little to no emotion).
The unsympathetic person believes that there is no excuse. To quit when “the going gets tough.” A “cop out.” They simply refuse to believe that it could be; “that bad.” These emotions underpinned by taught and learned beliefs.
The Sympathetic ask
- What was going on in their life and in their head that they felt they had to get out leaving families and children.
- Did they really believe that their family would be better off without them… They must have really hated themselves.
- They are in such pain they are not thinking about their family.
- They have lost hope, feel unworthy, life is hell on earth.
- What must have been going through their minds as they were taking their own lives?
The sympathetic person will try to find a way of understanding. We try and walk in the empty shoes of the person. Our attempt to understand. I have learned that; “there is a reason why people behave the way they do.” We may never know what that reason was and must celebrate their life in appreciation of the time we had as we heal our broken hearts.
Connecting, communicating and caring
The message of 2016 World Suicide Prevention Day….
World Suicide Prevention day, is a day of recognition for all the non-judgemental listeners who work toward the prevention of suicide, helping those who are ready to find a different perspective and reason to choose life. Those who support the families through their grief and loss.
“In honor of those who have suffered loss through suicide, it is my sincere hope, you will find this article helpful and informative,” and, May God grant you the Serenity to accept this thing you cannot change; Courage to change the things that you can; And the Wisdom to know the difference.
My two friends are at peace and I pray to them. God Bless
I recently saw a post showing a young guy wearing a hoodie with these words, you never know who you might impact in life by wearing one.
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