Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Reason to Live

Teen suicide has been in the news here in Australia again. It is said that this is on the rise, and I imagine that claim is backed up with sound research. It is difficult to know whether suicide among teens is more prevalent now than 50 or 60 years ago. It was probably covered up more then than now. It is also difficult to ascertain how many fatal car accidents, then and now, are actually suicides. However, any suicide by a young person must raise concerns, and it is certainly more common than one would hope.

There is something that doesn’t quite feel right about asking why “teenagers” commit suicide. Each of these people is an individual, with their own story, their own pressures and their own concerns. There will not be one single reason or group of reasons that explains every act: some kind of “general law” of teen suicide. We want there to be, because it would make the issue easier to tackle (or so we think). Clearly there are external factors, interacting with internal factors, that lead to such a decision.

I think that for many people, young and old, it is not a question of finding a reason to kill themselves: it is a question of finding a reason not to. It’s actually quite easy to find reasons to kill oneself. I’ve lost my job and I don’t have the resources to find another. My marriage has ended, and I can’t face life on my own; I can’t face starting over. Someone I love has died, and I can’t live without them. The world is going to hell, and I don’t want to be there when it does. Sorry to depress you all.

It seems to me that the key to it all is finding a reason to live, despite the pressure, the pain and the loss. Even if it is a trivial reason. I could kill myself, but I want to see the Eiffel Tower before I die. I feel like killing myself, but what if I write down some of these thoughts and feelings so that others might understand. I could kill myself, or I could learn Spanish. I would kill myself, but chocolate just tastes so damn good! Please understand that I am not trivialising this. I have been very depressed at times in my life, but I have never actually been suicidal. Why not? Because there has always been another book to read. There has always been a movie I really wanted to see. There has always been somewhere else in the world that I wanted to go. There has always been another game of Trivial Pursuit to play with the family.

Having something to live for is the key, and it doesn’t have to be a big, dramatic, epic something. Maybe it’s the pleasure you get from stroking your cat, and from hearing her purr in your arms. Maybe it is the smell of roast lamb cooking. These are wonderful things, and as long as I can, I will hold out for one more opportunity to experience them.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoy reading your blogs Philip, even this one. I agree, one does need to find something to live for, though it can be hard at times. I try to have a positive attitude and look for that elusive silver lining. After losing two daughters and having my husband now diagnosed with a terminal illness, it's not easy. My writing, such as it is, gives me pleasure, so does stroking the cat, gardening, volunteering and walking the dogs. Humans can spend too much time internalising things which can be very destructive. Better to be out there and living.