According to WHO, one person dies every 40 seconds due to suicide; this amounts to about 800,000 deaths annually. Another report also shows that men are three times more likely to attempt suicide than women. There have been debates whether it is a mental illness, a morally wrong action, or a religious question. However we choose to view it, whenever it happens, at least another soul is gone. This often leads the survivors of the victim with feelings of trauma, shame, stigma, isolation, confusion, or even the risk of becoming suicidal too.
Many reasons have been highlighted for why people choose to end their own lives. Some of these include depression, mental illness, traumatic stress, substance abuse, belief that one is a burden to others, social isolation, amongst so many.
One of the earliest records of suicide was the death of King Saul, which occurred around 1004 BC. It was the story of a jealous king who went out to battle with the Philistine army and was defeated. The archers hit him badly that he told his armorbearer to kill him. While he hesitated, the king jumped on his own sword and died. He felt a deep sense of misery and would not the enemy make a mockery of him.
This story gives us insights to common causes of suicide even in our world today. Three (3) of them are highlighted below:
1. Shame: Many of the reported cases of suicide have to do with someone trying to avoid some form of public disgrace. Shame is “a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behaviour.” One example that drives this home was the suicide of Jeremy Michael Boorda in 1996, a United States Navy admiral who served as the 25th Chief of Naval Operations. It was reported that he wore two “V” devices, which means “Acts of Valor”, an honour only reserved for those who have been engaged in combats, of which Jeremy was not. When an investigation was carried out on this, he shot himself in the chest, though he stopped wearing the badges a year before the investigations. This has been the case for many suicide cases associated with celebrities and trusted leaders who dropped the ball.
2. Misery: Like in many suicide cases, King Saul was in a state of distress, having been hit by the archers who pressed against him. To him, the pain was unbearable and he will rather end it himself than endure pain for any more minute. We go through situations of life that make us really miserable. Sometimes, this can be physical; but it soon affects our mind and engender suicidal thoughts if we do not exercise control over the mind. When people consider the aftermath of some situations, one of the easiest conclusions they make is to end it right there than to go through any ordeal.
3. Hopelessness: The third cause of suicide which I believe is the major one is a state when one concludes that a situation is impossible and irremediable. Of course, King Saul had seen his men fall right before him, and here was he, badly hit. There was no hope he was going to make it out of the battlefield alive. Many times, we all battle some issues in our lives, such as some illnesses, losses, bad debts, what have you. It is even possible that we have deployed all our arsenal, yet nothing seems to change. Once we hit that mental state of nothing-else-can-be-done, it may become easy to take suicide as an option.
In the next article, I will be sharing practical tips on how we can turn shame, misery, and hopelessness around. Also, I hope to share with us inspirational stories of real-life people who found themselves in seemingly impossible situations and made it out alive.
But let me leave you with this quote from Thomas Edison, “Many of life’s failures are experienced by people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
You are closer to success than you think. Please hold on.
Dele Ayo Bankole