I heard the author of this article on the radio today and I spent the entire time shouting at the radio and getting so angry I nearly threw it out of the window.
Now, we live in a no-TV household, so I gather I may have missed some other media around this issue, but this article is what I read, and this man is who I heard speaking on the radio.
I got so angry I posted it all over the internet to find out if I am alone in my rage.
I wanted to know if it would be a good idea to condemn people who commit suicide to disgust from their society. I wanted to find out if being shown that victims of suicide are not worthy of a normal funeral would deter other teens from going down the same path.
From my own personal point of view, and one that has been through the horrors of depression and been at the top of that dark slope down I think that this would just make those people believe that feeling suicidal was something to be ashamed of, something to hide, something to pretend was not happening.
I believe that punishing the families who have lost loved ones to suicide by refusing their child/sister/brother/parent a normal funeral would cause more people to hide away their own feelings of grief and depression.
Surely the way to combat teen suicide (or any suicide for that matter) is to talk. To be open; to let people know that it’s OK to feel like this, but that they have somewhere to turn. To let people know that there is another option other than death. I sort of understand that maybe some teens might not think about the repercussions of suicide, but let’s be honest, teens do not tend to think of anything outside their own bubble, I know I certainly did not.
So far the internet world seems to have agreed with me, but one person raised an interesting alternative point of view, that of a “shame culture” where some cultures believe that killing yourself to prevent shame and dishonor being brought upon your family is a noble thing.
Now I don’t profess to have a detailed knowledge of Maori culture (the man in the article is Maori, and a lot of the radio discussion was focused on the Maori community), I am woefully ignorant in that regard, but I don’t believe it to be a “shame culture”. From a western viewpoint, the idea of shame culture is abhorrent to me; I cannot see how killing yourself and hurting those who love you in the process could be somehow better than doing something “shameful” and then working to rectify what you did. As I said though, I am from a different world, so I doubt I could be made to understand this.
There seems to be a fear in the media about death being glamorised and romanticised. Maybe it’s true, maybe not, but it has been that way since Romeo and Juliet. People who really want to kill themselves are not well, and we need to help them to get better, not vilify them or their family and friends for something beyond their control.