Suicides: To Judge or to Empathize?

February 18, 2020

'Suicide is cowardice' is what many a people comment when someone from the community takes a drastic step. A lot of Ifs and Buts are suggested as effective alternatives to the extreme step. Some people even go to the extent of using harsh words against the person who has taken the drastic step. They feel that he/she is unmindful of the lingering pain of the family and dependents.

Certainly suicide is not the answer to any problem. But we need to understand that the extreme circumstances of life can make even a person with indomitable will power to succumb to the pressures of life. It is fairly easy to say he could have done this or that but difficult to reflect and see how we as a community have collectively failed in reaching out to the people in stress and distress.

Different people can take the extreme step of taking off their life for different reasons. A person who is otherwise happy and contended may also take this step if he suffers from the depression syndrome which has nothing to do with his will power or attitude.

Other people may resort to this step when they are overwhelmed by sudden shocks of life such as failures in personal and professional lives and traumatic events such as financial losses, being victims of financial frauds, love failures, emotional torture by family members, or untreatable acute or chronic medical conditions. For example, when a person who has invested all his money has been duped can be feeling hopeless despite having legal options (with our pathetically delayed justice delivery system).

It is a high time we as community and society self-introspect about our words and deeds towards others. Often we tend to cause huge damage to the self-esteem of our dear ones by our insensitive comments such as how come you still have no child despite married for so long, how come you are still not married etc. When a child fails in an important school exam, the very negative attitude of taunting by family, relatives and neighbours pushes the child to take this extreme step.

When a person is suffering from a chronic health condition that cannot be easily treated, family and relatives ask the person a lot of insensitive questions which can further add to the stress of his poor health condition. Some get into the shoes of a doctor or a psychologist in offering advice. Some with their little knowledge (which is dangerous) start labelling people suffering from chronic physical conditions as 'psychological patients'. They fail to understand that the same disease is caused in ten different people for ten different reasons. They even go to the extent of blaming the condition on the negative thinking and attitude of the person. True positive thinking is essential for good health. But when a person is under a lot of suffering due to physical condition if he is blamed for his thinking, it shows our mere insensitivity to the suffering of others and utter lack of empathy on our part.

It is high time we as family and society introspect and try to reduce our judgmental attitude towards people suffering physically or psychologically. Let us not shower advice to them but learn to give an empathetic ear. Let us tell them ‘I can understand what you are going through. We are with you. We are praying for you.’

Let us be rays of hope and not judges!

Final word: Humanity is the greatest religion.


By Anthony D’Souza, Madanthyar/Bahrain
Anthony D’Souza is currently working as a lecturer in English at an institute affiliated to Ministry of Education, Bahrain.
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Comment on this article

  • Mohan Prabhu, Mangalore (Kankanady)/Ottawa, Canada

    Sat, Feb 22 2020

    Well written and well expressed commentary on suicide which drives people to take extreme step. In some cases the family itself can be the cause of this, especially when the elderly are completely ignored and will be glad to get relief from a unbearable burden to their lives; in some cases they would be too glad to enjoy the riches that fall to them on the departure of the elderly person who has been far from being generous.
    There are far too many reasons why people commit suicides and we can't even scratch the surface. In some cultures, suicide is a noble thing.

  • Vincent D'sa, Shankerpura/Dubai.

    Sat, Feb 22 2020

    Suicides happen primarily due to three main reasons. 1. Lack of awareness about the problem itself. 2 Uncontrolled anxiety about the problem and general anxiety. 3. Rotten psychological environment in the support system.
    I have witnessed a few persons closely known to me committing suicide. Suicides are bound to happen and increase drastically in the coming days. The primary reason being is those cry after the incident hardly come to rescue when the person is struggling.
    Being a counselor I take depressed people coming for advice to reach the highest point of their problem during counseling and from that point I make them to climb down the stair. Almost all the patients see their problem with magnified glasses. At this highest “torture point”, I make them realize and believe that the individual has the capacity to deal with the problem effectively. This is the point where the patient gets the highest relief! Then slowly I train them to work back.
    I keep regular touch with them for a reasonable period until they stabilize and regain lost ground because in most of the cases support system itself fuels the extreme anxiety leading to suicide.
    The belief that I have the resources to deal with the problem and can handle the problem of whatever nature saves the lives.
    We need to understand them and reach in time.

  • John B. Monteiro, Bondel Mangalore

    Tue, Feb 18 2020

    Very timely, relevant, incisive, hope-inducing, well-targeted, and actionable with bullet-like delivery.

  • Dan M, Dubai / Mangalore

    Tue, Feb 18 2020

    Jesus on suicide and how to overcome.

    Ref : The Poem of the Man-God Chapter 69 Vol 1.

    It is true that to kill oneself is the same as killing other people. Both our own and other people's lives are the gift of God and only God Who gives life, has the authority to take it. Who kills himself, confesses his own pride, and pride is hated by God.

    He confesses his pride? I would say his despair. And what is despair but pride? Just think, Judas.

    Why does one despair? Either because misfortunes persistently perturb him and he wants to overcome them by himself, but is unable to do so. Or because he is guilty and he thinks that he cannot be forgiven by God. In both cases, is not pride the basic reason?

    The man who wants to do all by himself, is no longer humble enough to stretch out his hand to the Father and say to Him: “I am not able, but You are. Help me, because I hope and wait for everything from You.”

    The other man who says: “God cannot forgive me” says so, because measuring God by his own standards, he knows that another person could not forgive him, if that person had been offended, as he offended God. So here again it is pride.

    A humble man understands and forgives, even if he suffers for the offence received. A proud man does not forgive. He is proud also because he is not capable of lowering his head and saying: “Father, I have sinned, forgive Your poor guilty son.”

    But do you not know, Judas, that the Father will forgive everything, if one asks to be forgiven with a sincere, contrite, humble, heart willing to rise again to new life?

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