Is a Person Who Suicides, a Coward?

The State tells us Suicide is a crime. Attempt to commit suicide figures in Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code, and I am told that in Singapore they go to the extent of handcuffing the body of the person who commits suicide. From an infantile stage we are fed with the idea that taking your own life is wrong. A curious child armed with one powerful question ventures to ask his parents, ‘Why’ (Why is it wrong?). The parent then tries to rationalise with the child – ‘Whoever takes their own life, do so because they do not want to face the reality. They find sdeath as a way to escape the hardships of life’. The truly religious parent adds on – ‘Our life is not ours to take. God gave it to us and He will take it back when it is the right time’.

Still, we see people killing themselves everyday. It is estimated that over one million people commit suicide every year. The World Health Organisation’s study reveals that Suicide is the thirteenth-leading cause of death worldwide. We still hear the aunty next door shrieking when she discovers her son hanging dead from the fan. We spend the next couple of days trying to reason out why that silly boy would kill himself. Some blame it on the stress that parents place on kids these days, others talk about how children cannot handle a ‘No’ in this age of instant gratification.

People like me move on to our own mental ramblings. ‘Was this guy brave to take his own life? What was he trying to avert by prematurely ending his life? Would it take more courage to face the fears of life or is suicide an act of greater bravery? Do we scorn at people who commit suicide because deep down inside, we hate their guts to relinquish the one thing that is truly ours ~ our own lives?

The past four months have seen me deeply contemplate death, but along with it I have considered the Latin phrase ‘nil nisi bonum’ at length and with renewed comprehension. The general conclusion That I have arrived at is the fact that we do not speak ill of the dead not so much because of the person’s absence as the fear of death itself. Also, death is like a reagent that causes the sublimation of past inequities.

Why do we not speak ill of the dead? Is it because they have the knowledge about the place which the living spend their whole life worrying about and trying to avoid? Is it because the dead have completed this journey that we are still taking? Is life a race and death the coveted trophy that anyone who completed it would receive? Is death something that releases us from this imprisonment of our souls in physical bodies? Are people who die heroes then, for they have achieved the one certainty in life that I am still struggling toward?

Or have I been concentrating on the wrong subject altogether? Is it Death that we respect? Or is it fear that holds back our tongues. Is death the black hole that drags all beings towards and into it? Does death consume us; one at a time? Do we mourn at each wake, with the fear and realization that it could have been us, that one day death would have us in its claws, that one day we would be the carcass in the caskets? Or are we dumb struck, as we see death taking home another victim? And is that why we reserve that inexplicable emotion towards people who take their own lives?

As for the anger, enmity and all those negative emotions, I now know that they all vaporise with the last breath of that person. It escapes the world with him; leaving behind this deep well of guilt which you drink from every once in a while to remind you that ‘Hominem te memento’ (Remember that you are but a man!).

So whether or not the people who commit suicide are courageous can only be confirmed when we meet them on the other side; or in the unlikely chance that they visit us in the land of the living! What we do know is that they leave behind people weeping and wailing not for the dead, but for our own loss in an attempt to cry away that pain of guilt.

One Response to “Is a Person Who Suicides, a Coward?”
  1. Priya says:

    Nice Post!!! Commiting Suicide is certainly not the solution for ones problems, be it a courageous act or not 🙂

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