The Suicide Debate

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Recent happenings have prompted me to think seriously about the discomforting topic of suicide. A popular V Road student committed suicide in the last two months or so. I happened to know his family because we went to the same church. So i guess it hit me a bit harder than most of you, my audience; because it came quite close. Its one of those topics in life that are rarely thought about leave alone discussed. There is a certain fear, an inexplicable anguish that accompanies those that have been left behind.

I wonder; is suicide an act of cowardice or great heroism? Presumably it is an unpleasant experience therefore planning it, choosing the place and time, choosing the method and finally going through with it, must count for some peculiar kind of courage. A self abusing, self afflicting kind of courage, whose end result is without question irreversible.

What goes on in the mind of the deceased? What do they think is the final achievement of such an act? Is it freedom? Is it peace? Is it in some bizarre way, a form of punishment for people who might have wronged them?

With regards to his/ her family, does the deceased feel indebted towards the members? Isn’t suicide a slap in the face of those that love them and care for them? An insult towards those that have invested so much in their upbringing? If by some miraculous happening they were to be granted life again, how would they face….everyone?

Once the deed happens, what happens to the deceased’s soul? Do they receive a warm welcome from the gates of heaven or otherwise? If God knew even before creation, that someone would commit suicide why create them in the first place? What is the point of creating someone who might not finish the purpose for which they are created? On the other hand, could the suicide be intertwined with God’s purpose for that particular individual?

Finally is suicide an option for those that are left behind? Given the tumultuous nature of life on earth, the numerous disappointments, the disillusionment, the heart breaks and injustices we suffer, is suicide an option? Since no one asked us when we were born, is choosing how we die a checkmate, a victory, a tragic demonstration of our yearning for freedom?

Lets talk.

Steve

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I had no idea a student committed suicide, but I have been face to face with that reality before. A close relative attempted suicide a few years back ( I say attempted because he is still alive today) and it was the most horrible experience of my entire life. from the snide remarks of friends and neighbors behind your back, to the billion dollar question, WHY? I don’t know which is worse, actually losing the person, or having them there knowing they had no real reason to commit suicide. Sometimes I think its a cry for help; a lost soul’s way of calling out of their misery, other times I think it is cowardice, and other times still it is revenge. All I know is that it changes your life irreversibly, your relationships, even who you are. Like most families we never really talked about it, so it remains a cloud hanging over our heads, and our lives have never been the same. However, this fact remains: no matter the circumstance, suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem, and all it does is hurt more than it helps. Those left behind are often left ridden with guilt, and a hurt that never washes away. You may try to paint it any way you wish but suicide is selfish, and all it does is make a bad situation worse, especially if it backfires and you have to face all those people again!!

Evah Wanjiku

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hi guys…

Calling this specific topic sensitive is an understatement, sometimes
you came to a stage in life when everything is going wrong, when it
seems like no one understand you, constant fights with your parents
over your choice of friends, how you spend money,your coming home at
the wee hours of the night , just nver ending petty issues that drives
you to pack your stuff and move out ! You come out into the world
think that at least you have some peace that life will finaly look up
only for the cycle to begin with the boss picking at you at
work,nothing you seem to do is ever right, a boy friend who never
calls or is always missing in action,not forgetting the romour that
he’s been seen with so and so at such place. so you decide to
compromise coz maybe that will make him stay only to hate your self
more,…when they try to seek help from a friend who tries to rape
them, when you look at yourself in the mirror all you see is a failure
as a daughter ,an employee and a girlfriend,as a woman you convince
yourself that no one wants you, no one will ever realise your gone,
people who commit suicide think of two things

1. I will finally put an end to my misarable pathetic life, am a
failure,an embrassment,no one wants me or will miss me anyway….so
yes it is selfish.
2. They (who are left behind) will bear the guilt and the shame, the
question “why” will eat them up to their graves, they will wish they
had stretched ther hands and helped, they will wish they had stopped
yelling for one minute and listened to me…..why they dint save me.

Its people who seek approval of whom they,how much they are loved, if
anyone notices they exist at all and when they fail to get this
approval then they dont see their importance as to why they should be
alive, one thing is for sure its all a matter of choice…when you get
to choose to find your true identity in Christ and no longer look out
for the approval of a man or woman you make the choice to start over
and give life a chance…..

@muthami you asked – If God knew even before creation, that someone

would commit suicide why create them in the first place?

I think because God knows that we have a choice ! we make choices
everyday what we would eat,wear,go to school, who to date,which church
to attend etc….my belief is that God has our lives planned to the
last detail yet some of us die even before accomplishing what He had
planned for us, we live in houses that we never consulted God we
should live in ! we date poeple we never consulted God about, we study
courses and graduate from MBA’S to Phd’s never having asked God if
thats what we should have studied or in careers that …you get my
drift ! choices choices choices they change the course of
everything…

in my opinion

ciiku

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I think this issue is really complicated and needs a professional to explain it out. But I figure Steve wanted to hear a more non-professional dimension of the issue, so that’s why we’re discussing it.

Frankly, I don’t think one can ever put their finger on precisely what causes suicide. The literature in me see suicide as a tragedy – as one of those mysteries we have to deal with and whose final answers remain the privilege of the gods (or God for the Christians). Suicide points to the other mystery of life being ours but not ours. The fact that we live our lives does not mean we have complete jurisdiction of it. So if someone takes his life, what does that mean to God (or the gods)? I don’t know.

Maybe its all these unanswered questions that made suicide one of the greatest taboos in African societies, so that no rites were said for the person who died, or the remains and his property would be burnt down. I think it was the African way of accepting that there are some things we will never know.

But that does not mean we should not do anything for those who want to or try to take their lives. Our responsibility is to reduce the risk factors that push people to take their own lives as much as we can. If the person is sick, we get them treatment. If the person is traumatized, we get them counseling. If that trauma is caused by social factors, such as Bush’s war that made returning soldiers more prone to suicide, we fight to change the circumstances that make people desperate. And most of all, we just love and pray.

Wandia

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Suicide is a very sensitive topic in the African context, matter of fact in any context discussed. Nonetheless, this does not mean it a new issue under the sun – suicide dates centuries away and even with modernity it is not accepted in societies and within family members – alarmingly in the African context murder is well accepted than suicide! In Nigeria, the Igbo people, would condemn the family members of those that had a family member kill them self and would perform a deep cleansing ritual for the going away ceremony of the deceased. If we bring the topic closer home, the situation is still the same suicide is not easily accepted by the society. It’s categorized as ‘bad death.’ Good death is that that can be explained and reasonably acceptable to members of the society…But the question we should dig deep into is that if suicide has been around for centuries dating back to the time of our forefathers why is it that it’s not widely acceptable, not to say that this is acceptable?

Of course statistics also reveal that as the years have progressed, suicide levels have increased significantly not just in Kenya but worldwide; this is also not surprising and I would attribute this to the rise of competition and pressure that individuals face in the work place, home and so forth – everything has become competitive, survival indeed is for the fittest and smartest! You would always hear parents telling their children to strive for the best, work hard or even ‘life is a race, if you don’t run, you will get trampled on.’

It is the mentality we generate for excellence that kills! It’s interesting, sometimes back I was working on a feature article about suicide in the Middle east, I got to interview about two thousand people from various backgrounds who have been in some way affected by suicide and the number one item that surfaced as the reason as why people commit suicide was pressure to excel and ‘be.’

So how do we change this as individuals? I firmly believe before that we cannot get to that status we have to change the mentality that we have generated, this thing called perfection or excellence then after that we should be able to sit down and trace tell a tell signs … that’s just me…

By the way – India tops the list globally amongst suicides and followed closely by Japan. Why? – Competitiveness – ever seen an exam paper for primary school students, you’d think they are applying for a university entrée exam or so forth! It’s a shame and of course Japan because of its competitiveness in the working industry …

Cheers : Irene Shabaya

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Hallo everyone!!! am more than delighted to see that ajenda afrika still continues despite the departure of the founding members. of more interest to me is the topics av seen discussed via mail…congratulations people. I hope and pray that I will one day have time to attend in person. GOD BLESS…AFRIKA MOJA!

OTIENO.

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