Logic says “1-800-273-8255”
Shall we Begin
Two people come home from fighting a war far away from the shores of their home country. The first person lost both his arms, one leg, part of his ear, one eye and can’t feel when he is being touched. The second person came home with no physical injuries but relived vivid memories of the war.
The first person went through comprehensive treatment for his injuries. He also went through sessions to talk about how he feels and work through his goals for the rest of his life. The first person is also a person of great faith and he believes the events that caused his suffering are for purpose. He is humbled and outwardly honored to take responsibility to help others through his tragedy.
The second person was released from the military and prior to his departure, had some meetings to discuss possible issues or concerns with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) The second person is not religious in the sense that he goes to church but he believes in a higher power. He is a proud veteran and looks forward to finding out what life has in store for him.
Within three years both of these people find a way to commit suicide.
A young girl puts some of her interests on social media sites. When other kids in her school discover some of her interests, they start making fun of her. She is bullied and asks for help from teachers and her parents. People try to help her to the extent that they know how but the bullying continues and she decides she has no other way out but to commit suicide.
A young girl (that I grew up with) was raped by a 30 something year old man. Her parents responded by sending her to an institution for help. Deep depression became normal for her. When she was released from the institution, she looked for trouble and her life continued to spiral into chaos. She attempted suicide on a regular basis and could only be stopped through constant monitoring.
The complexity of suicide is staggering. There are laws that make suicide illegal but mental health support doesn’t really exist. The complicated nature of suicide is not a problem that has a formulaic solution. How can people solve for despair in others? To say that suicide should be a right is essentially unacceptable as well. We keep talking and talking but I ask how we can catch a person while they are falling? My sense is that we can’t as a society. We can only watch almost helpless as we stand in place in shock as we observe the activity of someone falling.
Story upon story, the common thread is people have found themselves at the end of something. They have a perception or belief that suicide is their best solution.
People respond to suffering in many ways. A human being is never fully free as much as we would seek to believe that we need to be or that we are free. People kill themselves because they are suffering. There are always exceptions but suicide is not new to humanity. Here are some very interesting thoughts from Viktor Frankl “..despair is suffering without meaning”
Should people have the right to harm themselves? Does someone harming themselves harm others? What rights do humans have concerning this? What rights should humans have?
It is interesting to note the UN has established human rights. These rights are seemingly gestures. The world we live in is full of confusing dichotomy in that we as human beings believe and assert our theory of human rights but there is nothing to enforce these rights. Beyond that, if we did enforce human rights we would be limiting choices which is theoretically a right. Read below..
Unenforceable Human Rights
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (United Nations)
Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,
Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,
Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,
Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,
Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,
Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,
Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,
Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.
All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.
Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.
Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.
(1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.
(2) No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.
(2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.
(1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.
(2) This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.
(1) Everyone has the right to a nationality.
(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.
(1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
(2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
(3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.
(1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.
(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
(2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association.
(1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
(2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.
(3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.
Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.
(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
(2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
(3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
(4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.
Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.
(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.
(1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
(2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
(3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.
(1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
(2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.
Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.
(1) Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.
(2) In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.
(3) These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.
Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.
When can an observer become part of a solution? Is this even really possible? I believe that if we get to the person before they leap from the roof, we can possibly help them. The person who is thinking or moving towards hurting themselves has to be able to see from their own perspective an opportunity in finding meaning and purpose in their own existence. They have to see their way from despair.
One other question is “When is suicide ok”? Is that ever really an option? Many would say that it isn’t but as Frankl suggested, people may choose simply not to live. It is a tough subject but I think we need to continue to talk about it and find ways to help others through active and real discussions about it.
If you need help or are trying to help someone take a look here http://www.sprc.org/
To be clear, my own personal opinion about suicide is that it is much too complicated to say whether or not it is good, bad, right or wrong. I personally look at every day as a gift and I live that way. If I felt that every day was hellish experience, I might have a different answer. I think suicide is should be situation-ally discussed and it should be with great care and clarity. Regardless, we should seek to help people one person at a time and one moment at a time to help them find their own purpose to the extent that we can.