On average, one man takes his own life every minute somewhere in the world and suicide is also the biggest cause of death in men under 50. Interestingly, male cases of suicide outnumber female cases by a factor of around 3 to 1. This is despite the fact that women actually attempt suicide marginally more often than men. So why do more men than women die by suicide? This discrepancy is largely due to men often employing more violent acts to ensure their demise and therefore being more ‘successful’ with their attempts. These are stark facts that may be difficult to comprehend, but they are unfortunately true and of course tragic and sad. But is suicide a sad AND selfish act?
We know men committing suicide is not a new phenomenon; in bygone years, gentlemen often found a shotgun to the head, to be a preferable ‘way out’ of many unpleasant situations, such as bankruptcy, blackmail and affairs of the heart.
To be fair to them, they usually strode off to a barn, with a sturdy rope and 3-legged stool, to end their life from a rafter, it rarely involved anyone else, that would have been far too messy and undignified. People had standards back in the day, even where suicide was concerned.
But whilst it is understandable that anyone contemplating suicide is not thinking rationally, nor with a sound mind or body, am I alone in thinking that it is a somewhat selfish act?
I can’t be alone in thinking that social media plays a major role in most suicide cases, nowadays. From the promotion of so-called ‘influencers’ setting the high bar of lifestyle standards that for most are unattainable, to flooding platforms with temptation, in the form of betting, alcohol, get rich quick schemes, credit cards, buy now pay later options, not to mention subscription porn sites, that can all bleed an already vulnerable man dry, and lead to addiction of one sort or another.
To counteract the negative, it seems as if social media almost feels guilty and offers up tired old hashtags inviting the depressed, lonely, isolated, addicted, to join a ‘club’ of sorts where others will understand your plight, and where you won’t feel alone.
Of course, for those who are having suicidal thoughts, Google will helpfully point you in the right direction if you are unsure of your preferred method of dying, and there will possibly be a Facebook page that you can join to discuss all of the above, and you can post anonymously, no problem.
Facebook can even help your nearest and dearest announce your departure to your family and friends – and their outpouring of grief can be visible to all with almost a competitive spirit. No matter that the poor deceased guy didn’t feel able to reach out to any of these same grieving ‘friends’ to share his despair.
Recently, my daughter’s childhood friend was involved in an accident and sadly died. She read of his passing on social media. I recalled him as a cheeky 10-year-old boy, with a mop of dark hair, and a winning smile. I hadn’t seen him since their junior school days, but remembered his lovely mum and brother from various infant and junior school events, and saw them virtually every day at the school gate.
My daughter on the other hand shared her secondary school years with him and their extended friendship groups. He was always popular, good-looking as a kid, handsome as a young man.
Now grown up, with a gorgeous wife, 3 lovely children, a fantastically rewarding job, and all the trappings of a golden career, and so much to look forward to. So it appeared.
Unlike some, he enjoyed a close family unit, especially with his brother, they were very close, and as good old social media will testify, many pictures exist of him arm in arm with his bro, playing football, enjoying a pint together, extended happy family occasions.
Imagine then, his parents’ distress, his brother’s distress, his wife’s distress, his children’s distress, my daughter’s distress, and their friendship group’s distress, on learning that their son, brother, husband, father, and friend, had actually killed himself – and now all of these people, without exception, will carry for the rest of their lives an undeserved sense of guilt without a source for forgiveness.
How didn’t we see it? How didn’t we know? What could we have done? Why didn’t he talk to us? Why didn’t I keep in touch more? Why? Why? Why? That’s what is left behind. So many questions that will remain unanswered.
The shock of realising that what is at first described as an accident, was in fact suicide is unimaginable. It surely must change your mindset into a different type of helpless grief.
Then the social media ‘Chinese whispers’ start. This time more privately, in hushed groups, created to discuss their friend’s sad passing, the regrets, the whys and wherefores, a young man now defined by nothing more than his suicide. He WAS precludes every comment.
Family lives are shattered through no fault of their own, wives and mothers are left to pick up the pieces and hold the remaining family together because that IS what they will do.
For this particular young man, (and many others I’m sure) there would have been nothing that was so, so bad that his family would not have pulled together to help and support him. Absolutely nothing.
But they were given no choice. He made the decision for them and gave them no option, he not only took his own life, he took part of theirs with him.
For that reason, yes, I do feel that as well as sad and tragic, suicide comes with a degree of selfishness.
This post was kindly written by Jane at hellosixty.com