Suicide - The Crisis of Meaning in Society
Updated: Aug 14, 2022
“There is but one truly serious philosophical problem and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy. All the rest — whether or not the world has three dimensions, whether the mind has nine or twelve categories — comes afterwards. These are games; one must first answer.”
- Albert Camus
Suicide was an issue prior to pandemic, but now, it's only increased.
"The South African Depression and Anxiety Group reports that there are 23 known cases of suicide in South Africa every day, and for every person that commits suicide, 10 have attempted it.
Before Covid-19, the organisation fielded 600 calls a day.
As of September 2021, that number had risen to 2 200 calls a day — an increase of nearly 40%. "
The biggest question on my mind lately is what are the main drivers of suicide (how much is related to culture, education, genetics vs how much is related to our environments or society itself?). The prevalence of not asking for help— the stigma of asking for help (the view of being weak if needing help)...how do we change this?
In which countries and groups is this most prevalent?
Why are more killing themselves? What are the triggers, and how do we change this?
Why is suicide viewed as an option?
How do we help before it's too late?
How do we help if it does happen?
Why it hurts so much and why it is harder to reconcile
It's not just an accident or an unexpected, external event. It's the actual person doing it. Some people I've interviewed have said that "It's a selfish act, meant to put leave guilt on all who are left behind. To force those left behind to regret not being there for the person who's opted out. It's true, guilt is the core feeling we are all left with, as we keep thinking is there something I could've done differently? Maybe I was a terrible friend. Maybe I should've called more. If only I did this, or did that...— this is the where the guilt comes from.. because we feel like we could’ve done something in hindsight.
Insurance not paying out when suicide
The reality is a person who does this, isn’t mentally healthy.
If insurance views suicide as self inflicted, then the same rule would apply to the the person who ate himself to death via obesity and heart attack.. His food addiction despite his awareness of it's damage, was unstoppable. So why would food addiction not be looked at in the same way as suicide.. this too was a self inflicted death, but it's still a mental issue which isn't fully within the control of the person. Why would insurance work this way?
Everyone has vulnerabilities. For most, we will brush it aside, never dealing with it until one day it becomes too much. When life is cut short by a person, we are left with questions. Left wondering why? Why didn’t they ask for help, why didn’t they speak to someone? I think this is the curse of our community, to look at depression or any kind of emotional vulnerability as weakness. This perception is what needs to break.
This idea that all men and women should be in control 100% 24/7. That being serious is a bad thing. That if you have depression, you can just "snap out of it". That we are all meant to be smiling, sociable and happy all the time.
We sometimes overlook what looks like serious on the surface is actually the strength of perception and observation. The ability to look at people and the world around them, and see them for what they are, and to say it like it is. Yes, saying it like it is does not guarantee you will be liked, but being honest and truthful is of greater value than saying what people want to hear.
We will never fully understand why this happened or what the person was going through. But today, whoever you've lost, their ways and their view of the world should be respected and honoured. You didn't walk in their shoes, so you don't know their experience.
I don't have an answer or conclusion for this issue, I just wanted to say this... to make you aware to look out for those around you.
“I’m filled with a desire for clarity and meaning within a world and condition that offers neither.”
— Albert Camus
Yes, maybe we expected the world would play by fair rules or that people around us would be honest, kind and could be trusted. Only to realise, the world is not fair. And almost everyone you know will end up disappointing you. When we seek to make sense of senseless tragedies around us. Everything can seem pointless. When choosing to live another day becomes a question, stop. There is hope.
For anyone reading this article, who questions whether to continue living please speak to a professional. Call Suicide Prevention Line: 0800 567 567. (Let's hope they answer and give decent advice this time). I'd also suggest reading the book by Albert Camus the Myth of Sisyphus . No matter how meaningless this life can seem, there are 3 ways we can take this. Either as
you can remain an observer
or continue to be a victim and think that you're helpless, the tasks at hand being meaningless and pointless
you can imagine that despite each blow that life throws at you, you never give up. You can rebel against the absurdity of it all and create your own meaning. "The struggle itself is enough to fill ones heart". Convert the pain into passion.
The most important thing is to realise that you can create your own meaning in life. We make our world through our actions and choices. As much as it may feel like we can't control anything, we can at the very least control our thoughts and our choices.
To anyone else reading this, rethink--everyone has had a rough year, a rough few years. Even rough lives since the day they were born. You don't even know how hard some people I've met have had it. Many lost jobs, had lives ruined, lost loved ones from COVID, suicide and many other related illnesses. You don't know what the next person is going through.
It won't kill you to be kind.