In the eyes of The Church. The State and society at large, suicide is an unpardonable sin and as such it is
strictly taboo. Because of this taboo, there is a heavy stigma attatched to anyone, or anything, associated with suicide. Even mentioning
it's name can create a negative reaction and by so doing lose face.
The Loss of face is humiliating and can begin a chain reaction of other losses. For example reputation, meaningful relationships,
job, income, respect, sexual partners etc.
Ironically, stigma contributes to, and is arguably, one of the biggest and most ridiculous causes of suicide.
It's bad enough to be traumatised and believe yourself to be no more than a walking corpse. Aimlessly
passing through life simply looking for a place to die: but to be stigmatised as well is simply overkill.
When we experience feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, guilt, uselessness, worthlessness, failure, futility,
self-loathing etc (for whatever reason) we often entertain suicidal thoughts and feelings. Such thoughts and feelings are
themselves traumatic - but they do serve an important purpose. That purpose is to warn us that we are in more pain than we
can possibly cope with. Our only priority is then to escape that pain.
View the situation this way: LIFE = PAIN. The longer the life, the longer the pain. The shorter the life, the shorter
the pain. Take away life and you take away pain. The solution is simple: SUICIDE.
This being so, when we are in the depths of despair it is not unusual for us to want to die. To escape the pain of life.
Yet at the same time we want to live and die. This frightening confusion about dying, even as a relief from agony is natural.
We are living beings, our function is to live.
It is a matter of urgency that we communicate suicidal thoughts and feelings as the first step to resolving the
underlying issues which created them. But, at this phase of the process we encounter an often insurmountable obstacle - stigma.
Church. State and society have educated us to believe that suicides involve sinful cowards. Shameful, weak deviants who
must be shunned and ostracised as disease carrying, sub-human outcasts.
Naturally, we believe what our society 'educates' us to believe without question. In this sense we are conditioned to
respond with disgust, fear, contempt, aversion (etc) to a suicidal person as a matter of course. But when we ourselves feel
suicidal all of these crushing predjudices and beliefs turn inwards. We become the "thing" which we loathe, despise, fear,
hate and reject. Our suffering intensifies and we can no longer share our feelings with others; because we are no longer strong
enough to cope with their rejection on top of everything else. In this respect stigma is frequently, the straw that broke
the camel's back.
Because of the feelings of guilt and shame which stigma invariably creates, we retreat ever deeper into
ourselves to hide. Become increasingly isolated we can sink ever deeper into despair. All too often the consequences of stigma
Stigma is the enemy of Public Health because not only does it prevent us from speaking. It also prevents us
from listening to others.
If we, as a society, could erase this stigma we would remove a barrier preventing people from communicating
their problems and seeking help to resolve them. This simple action would prevent suicides and
reduce a great deal of human suffering.
It is unrealistic to expect The Church, The State and society to review its taboo on suicide. This
being so, we can only do what we can to change the values of the individual through education. Learning how to administer
emotional first aid to those around us is the best way of starting this process.