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Saturday 12 November 2016


Suicide! An individual’s solution or a cop out for society?

Posted in: Health & HIV
By Diane Sparkes - 20th May 2013

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Many people will believe that when a person makes the decision to end their own life, the issue is one of being to unable to take what life has presented. While we might feel sad that things have become so bad that there is only one way out, we seldom think further on the question, has this anything to do with the society we live in?

No doubt there will be certain exceptions where suicide becomes simply a need, for example someone with an incurable affliction where continuing life only makes matters worse.

Many suicides are created by society itself, not true will be the response, I can hear it now, the very thought that what society does or does not do has anything to do with what an individual does will be met with indifference. The cop out!

But wait there is more, before the indignation sets in, think openly about it.

It was not that long ago that homosexuals were forced by society to hide who they are, because society failed to recognise them as just people whose behaviour was simply different to society’s norm.

Normal is actually a misperception made by the masses of just what is normal, for someone who is gay; that is normal, it only becomes other than normal in the eyes of the others because they do not understand the issues.

Sadly society as a whole, when the situation is not understood, chooses to become fearful instead and fear takes away all reason, retracting into a twin state where the issue is definitely seen as elsewhere, and responsibility is always with the other party.

It is not unreasonable to believe that when someone takes their own life, it was their own decision, while this might be true, the question should be asked to what extent did societal conditioning have in that decision.

When you are told that, who you think you are is anything but normal, the fear held by the societal norm is unfairly placed on the individual with all the power that society wields.

The ability of an individual to see this situation in reality becomes severely impaired depending on the affect that situation has, together with the forcefulness that society holds on the issue. When societal support is removed, this alone becomes reason enough to consider self destruction.

When will society recognise it has a duty to create a safe environment for the whole of society, not just those it would deem normal?

An example of this taken to the level of bullying at school, where the school as a collective fails to inform its cohorts that bullying is wrong, It also fails to support the individual being bullied, thereby being in part, responsible for the resulting outcome.

A state of bulling must have a starting point to be effective, if this starting point were erased immediately, then it would cease.

So the question must be asked who is best able to erase the problem. Certainly not those contemplating suicide, only the societal influence of the school and all its cohorts can do this.

This situation is clearly the case when it comes to the protection of those who are marginalised, specifically the LGB&T members of our society.

Where individuals or groups are singled out because society would see them as different whether by society as a whole, or by individuals stirred on by their own lack of understanding.

Without a societal decision to make appropriate comments applicable to the collective, Society has failed.

More often than not the decision to single out someone in our society on the grounds that they are different is unacceptable, many in society would agree, but they do nothing.

The realisation of the way society differs in what is rightly correct and the factual way it behaves gives cause for concern, and a need for society to look at itself.
Suicide is most likely to be the result of more than just the individual on their own,
Society is duty bound by its own rules to investigate the reason one of its own cannot survive in that society, someone, some situation must exist in that society to the creation of that fatal decision.

Gradually our society is slowly coming to recognise that suicide is not as simple as most would think, but we still have a long way to go.

In the case of Corporal Doug Hughes, a man with more strength than many of us, openly Gay where facing death everyday was the norm in Afghanistan, made the decision he did due to the lack of support of the society he lived in, the NZ Army is a unique society.

It must be recognised that in a society such as the Army, understanding of Gay issues will stand out as a condition difficult to come to terms with, and seen as not manly.

Unfortunately it is not just as simple of saying we accept Gay men in the force fully, without recognising that may not be the view of every member of that force, and there will be inevitably be some that object to being told they must accept a Gay soldier into their ranks.

While the Army and Society is trying to change, we must not forget that this present situation is relatively new, and it may take decade or more to remove the issues that those committing suicide make.

That fear of being outed, bullied or rejected by society has a power far greater than bullets.

Society must change its views on those who are perceived different in our world!
In the case of Suicide, what part in that terrible decision did society play and whose responsibility is it to make the change!

On a personal level I cannot offer expert qualifications on this subject other than my own personal experience that is based on a lifetime of observations and contemplating suicide on many occasions because of who I am, a transgender woman!

Over time I started to realise the problem was not mine but that of a situation I was expected to conform to in order to live my life.

Another factor was trying to control my life, over which I had no control, simply because I am perceived as different.

Basically in my view, the issue of suicide is seldom just about the individual!

If you need to talk to someone, please call OUTLine on 0800 OUTLINE.


Diane Sparkes - 20th May 2013

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