Self-Destruction: The Question of Suicide and the Tendency to Harm Oneself

by Jose Mario Dolor De Vega

According to Wikipedia:

Why do people kill themselves?

“Suicide (Latin suicidium, from sui caedere, “to kill oneself”) is the act of intentionally causing one’s own death”.

The following are the usual reasons and often quoted factors given, why an individual commits suicide:

“…is committed out of despair or attributed to some underlying mental disorder, such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, alcoholism, or drug abuse. Pressures or misfortunes such as financial difficulties or troubles with interpersonal relationships often play a significant role.”

Though I substantially subscribe to the foregoing premises, I am also holding the view that the said given enumeration is not complete neither it is exclusive.

Every person is a special entity. Hence, we cannot ascribe to him or her; the prevailing doctrine or principle so far accumulated by medical research, notwithstanding the fact and regardless of the point that the said documentation is extensive. That is beside the point.

My argument is that, there could be no definitive quantitative analysis that would determinatively answer the question of: why people decide to kill themselves.

I will argue that the usual application of the scientific template with regard to the issue is incomplete.

That people commit suicide because they are sad, they are mentally disturbed, they are suffering from serious physiological disease that is incurable, that they are undergoing extreme depression due to financial bankruptcy and emotional emptiness, that they are broken-hearted, that they felt so hopeless and defenseless in the face of a seemingly difficult situation, that they find life meaningless and existence nonsense and absurd.

I am not saying that all these factors and reasons do not play a part in the ultimate decision of the person; the irrefutable fact is: they do. However to reduce the whole scenario on the above-quoted grounds which led the individual to harm him/herself would be myopic and indeed, puerile.

We owe ourselves! Our bodies, our souls and our minds belong to us. Only the person knows what he/she is going through.
At the end of the day, society as a whole cannot fathom what’s going on inside the head of an individual, nor has it the power to check the feelings and agony suffered by a lonely heart.

Every individual is unique and special, every soul has its own mind and feelings, which society can never ever fully conquer nor decipher.

We may never understand the prevailing thoughts that animates the mind of a desperate heart that led an individual to do such a drastic act, yet instead of condemning the said person, it would be better if we will pause and reflect on the whole episode! Why a lonely soul decided to end her life? In effect, we just return to the issue and question that we posited above.

To those idiots who condemn and ridicule those people who committed suicide; let me state that:

But we are not all the same! We must celebrate our differences! We are all special and unique individuals!

I may not agree to the grim decision undertaken by those persons to end their lives; for purposes of ending their suffering, yet it is my ardent contention that I do not have the moral right to condemn their action!

They acted on their own will and volition! It may not be the right thing to do in our eyes, yet the actors saw it the other way!
Rather than condemning or criticizing those poor souls, let us ask ourselves: what led those people to choose that decision?

What compelled or impelled them to do what they have done?

Did we as a community also failed them? During those hard and turbulent moments that they are suffering, are we there for them?
Of course, end of the end, our decision is our own decision; yet we cannot deny the significance of our fellow human beings in our lives.

As a philosopher, I am critically analyzing all the angles and elements of this shocking moral issue that affects not only our society but the whole world.

What’s to be done?

Our duty is not only to remember the dead; but primordially to analyze and subsequently understand the reasons behind their decisions! We must locate the ultimate root cause(s) of the problem.

We must create a socio-communitarian consciousness! It may not stop some people from killing themselves, yet I certainly believe that due to our efforts: we may save some desperate lives and lost souls!

It is on this sense that I am also in favor of scrapping the STFAP or at least review it!

All my life, I am so proud of my Alma Mater, the University of the Philippines, yet the event that happened this week makes me sad and utterly angry!

UP must return to its roots!

Note: I dedicate this humble piece to the memory of Kristel Pilar Mariz Tejada. May she rest in peace and may her death be not in vain!

Continuation at Kristel and the UP Dream

Jose Mario de Vega

The writer has a Master’s degree in Philosophy, a law degree and a degree in AB Political Science. He was previously teaching Philosophy, Ethics and Anthropology at an institution of higher education in Nilai University College at Nilai, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia

As of the moment, he is preparing to publish his first book entitled “Dissidente”. It is a collection of his articles, commentaries and op-ed published by various newspapers in Southeast Asia, including the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

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