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The following is an overview of the subject of suicide and my personal relationship with the subject and this is for intellectual discussion only and is by no means meant to make light of, demean, romanticize or condone suicide. If you or a loved one is considering or has considered suicide please seek help from a family member, trusted friend or trained clinician as well as considering the appropriate suicide prevention hotline for your appropriate area. 

USA: 18002738255

UK: 08457909090

Japan: +810352869090

France: 0145394000

Germany: 08001810771

Canada: 5147234000 (Montreal)

18662773553 (outside Montreal)

 

I hope you find this overview of the topic and history of suicide at the very least, entertaining and at the most, enlightening and thought provoking. I myself and I'm sure plenty of people here have had suicide affect us in one way or the other, whether it be suicidal thoughts, the loss of a loved one or an attempt at suicide, so I wanted to approach this subject with the most delicate and welcoming approach as possible. I am not fucking around here, so please don't either. Please feel free to comment down below with your questions, comments, insight, etc.

 

You see it television, movies and in music in the US with the rise of emo music in the past decade, especially in the past two years with the rise of "misery music"; sorry Billie Eilish. You see it whenever someone is taking your shoes off and jumping in front of trains, poisoning yourself or bleeding to death in Japanese cinema, as well as depictions of suicide or self-harm in Visual Kei music videos, some going as far as to bring the romanticization to life; looking at you Mamo. However, aside from the younger generation, suicide is something that is generally looked at in a very negative light, the vast majority of people considering suicide as the ideation of deeply troubled people and as a last resort for a very troubled soul. Suicide isn't talked about much in modern western society outside of the occasional young person taking their life due to bullying or whenever a celebrity kills themselves, but over the past five years or so there has been a movement to normalize suicide for medical reasons that has caused plenty of backlash. 

 

Rational suicide, assisted suicide, doctor assisted suicide, doctor assisted euthanasia or as it's best known in the United States The Right to Die is a movement on the rise where for either medical reasons or in some rare cases personal reasons, you can legally end your life with the help of a physician or in the case of Switzerland, volunteers. Currently in the United States California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Montana, New Jersey (Starting August 1, 2019), Oregon, Vermont, and Washington now have laws pertaining to the legality of taking your own life, albeit all under trained physician supervision. In countries like Switzerland where non-physician-assisted suicide is legal, the assistance mostly being provided by volunteers, Swiss rational suicide gaining a lot of attention from the 2012 novel and in 2016 with the subsequent film Me Before You in which a wealthy paraplegic decides to end his life by going to Switzerland, whereas in Belgium and the Netherlands, a physician must be present. In Switzerland, the doctors are primarily there to assess the patient's decision capacity and prescribe the lethal drugs. Additionally, unlike cases in the United States, a person is not required to have a terminal illness but only the capacity to make decisions. 

 

About 25% of people in Switzerland who take advantage of assisted suicide do not have a terminal illness but are simply old or "tired of life". A survey of Danish found that 71% of Denmark's population was in favor of legalizing voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide, although at this time assisted suicide is illegal in Denmark; passive euthanasia, or the refusal to accept treatment, is not illegal. Proponents of the movement argue that people who are terminally ill should have the right to die on their terms and with dignity, the opposition countering with concerns of no measures put into place once decided, arguing that laws do not require consent at the time of death, only consent to obtain the lethal prescription, a distinction which can give someone other the patient the power to decide when death occurs. Recently there was a case when Dutch teenager Noa Pothoven who was the survivor of repeated sexual assaults as a child and who subsequently struggled with PTSD, crippling depression and anorexia tried to get permission for state sanctioned suicide via euthanasia and was denied as her parents had not been aware of the situation at the time; Noa subsequently dying at her home by natural causes when she refused to eat or drink anything until she fell into a coma and passed away.

 

The cultural history of suicide is an interesting one, dating back to 800BC with ancient Greece as well as Rome where suicide was never a general offense in law, but it was specifically forbidden in three cases: those accused of capital crimes, soldiers and slaves; the reason being that it was uneconomic for these people to die. In the Middle Ages, the Christian church excommunicated people who attempted suicide and those who died by suicide were buried outside consecrated graveyards, where as In the late 17th and early 18th centuries, loopholes were invented to avoid the damnation that was promised by most Christian doctrine as a penalty of suicide. One famous example of someone who wished to end their life but avoid the eternity in hell was Christina Johansdotter. Christina was a Swedish murderer who killed a child in Stockholm with the sole purpose of being executed, akin to the modern day practice of suicide by cop.

 

Suicide in times of war dates back as far as the time of Ceasar when Brutus and Cassius killed themselves rather than being captured by the forces of Mark Antony and Augustus after they orchestrated the assassination of Julius Ceasar. The best known modern use of suicide as a military strategy is likely tied between the Kamikaze or Tokubetsu Kōgekitai (Special Attack Unit) unit of the Japanese Imperial Forces in World War II in which Japanese soldiers killed themselves by flying planes into Allied Forces navy vessels and the 21st century suicide bombers; suicide bombers belonging to terrorist groups who operate under the guise of religious beliefs which has been subject to furious debate.

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I suppose it is apropos that I end this with my own experience when it comes to suicide. I'm nearly 30, but when I was a teenager, especially around the age of 15 I was in a very dark place. It was weird, I had a loving family, a few close friends and the bullying I had suffered from had died down significantly, but I felt alone no matter how much attention I had received and I would spend many a wake less nights listening to music and thinking about how I would kill myself, running it through my head over and over, picturing how my loved ones would react, etc. I thankfully never attempted anything, and kept self-harm to a minimum, mostly scratches, as fucked up as it may sound I feel I wouldn't have even done that if not influenced by Kyo, someone I worshipped at the time. I'm one of those people that subconsciously scratches themselves, or does so in their sleep and wakes up with scratch marks and that always reminds me of when I did it just to feel something.

 

I suffered some crippling depression in my teens, like many I'm sure, staying in bed all day when I wasn't in school or days off; I feel that this was a big factor in me becoming a hikikomori and avoiding going outside for months at a time in later years. Well, fast forward nearly fifteen years and besides a temporary mental breakdown, I've never considered it and depression only seems to occur for a day or two towards the end of the month. I'm very lucky to have a great girlfriend who suffers from mental illness herself, but is always there for me when I'm down as well.

 

Thank you for taking the time to read this, but if you didn't no worries, feel free to leave a comment below anyway, but please no jokes or demeaning remarks about the subject.

 

Clearly, human history has an intimate relationship with suicide whether we like it or not and as time passes it's not hard to expect that there will ever be a consensus on the topic which brings us to the question of today's topic. 

 

What is your opinion on suicide, whether it be due to mental health issues, terminal illness, cultural practices or for military purposes and what personal experience do you have with the subject?

 

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