Millennium Post

The problem of suicide

While this paper does not dispute the ownership of his or her body by a person nor the right that accrues from this to terminate life as well – as in the case of euthanasia – and does not believe in punishment for the  attempt at suicide, it still views suicide as an act that should be discouraged. It is a matter to be contemplated as to why suicides take place at all. The answers to this riddle are neither easy to find and nor well articulated in the sundry suicide notes that may be found. It may safely be concluded that most suicides are acts of desperation and are not a decision rationally arrived at. The World Health Organisation has estimated suicide to be among the leading causes of death in the world. Over a million people die each year worldwide in this way. It is facile to suggest that suicides are caused by depression or other such mental causes. To trace the source of suicide within an individual’s psyche is to misread and misunderstand the deeper social causes of the phenomenon and to abdicate all social responsibility for it. They are a sign, as the great sociologist, Emile Durkhiem had noted, of the collapse of social integration.

This would mean that suicides are committed by individuals who are isolated from the community and the wider life of the nation for one reason or the other, and who have lost the support of others, for whatever reasons. This is not at all far-fetched. Many suicides are, in fact, the result of social problems such as chronic unemployment, marital discord and other kinds of conflict within our society. They are a sign that all is not well in our society. To effectively prevent suicides requires a serious attempt to solve social problems. It requires setting up systems that cater to the individual’s grievances and problems in a social setting. It is just not enough to set up helplines for counselling services. This is not the medicine that will cure the disease. Only a hard look at social reality will. A more humane social environment is the need of the day. The problem of suicide needs to be looked at carefully so that people in distress can be helped.
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