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Phuket Opinion: Don’t ignore the signs of suicide

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET: Mankind, the first of nature’s creations, has so “fully evolved” that some of our number willingly end their own lives.

For those of us who have never had to battle depression, the very idea of committing suicide probably seems like the ultimate waste. After all, our time on this inexplicable stage called “life” is ephemeral enough indeed – why make it any shorter?

Scientists tell us that the Earth has been around for 4.5 billion years, but the longest we can hope to spend on it is about 100 years.

This works out to a percentage so tiny that it cannot even be computed by the average desktop calculator. We live in an incredible age. We can type ‘how old is the universe?’ into a search engine like Google and the answer pops up instantaneously in big, bold letters: 13.77 billion years.

Nowadays we have instant answers for just about everything, but when it comes to figuring out why some people choose to end their own lives the reasons are not so simple.

Those of us so unfortunate as to have to endure chronic pain may view suicide as a final way out of suffering, or even as an act of compassion toward those who, motivated by love, have worked hard to provide us with the care we can no longer provide ourselves.

Demographic researchers might view a rising trend in suicide rates as more of a ‘rats in a cage’ statistical phenomenon, dismissing it as the inevitable consequence of global overpopulation – a subject that gets far less attention than it deserves by mainstream media.

Most baffling are the many cases in which healthy and talented young people choose to nip their own existence in the bud. All too often they tend to be empathetic and creative types, like Kurt Cobain, who gave much enjoyment to many others but nevertheless found existence too unbearable to endure.

As unpalatable as it may be, we have to accept the fact that we will all be dead 100 years from now. Deal with that reality as you will, but the real challenge to each and every one of us is how to optimize this incredible opportunity we call life. We may not know why we are here or what happens after we die, but one thing is pretty clear: actions based on greed, self-interest and other inhumane, narcissistic traits seldom, if ever, bring happiness.

Phuket may brand itself as a “sea, sun and sky” destination, but for far too many visitors it also becomes, quite literally, a tragic “last resort”. For this reason, we should be aware of signs, subtle or otherwise, of a potential suicide in anyone around us, and be prepared to reach out to save a life.

Few experiences in life are more satisfying than helping others; saving the life of another is the ultimate form of this. The life you save could indeed be your own.

Note: For a two-page special report on suicide, including statistics for Phuket, and for Thailand and other selected countries around the world, see the current (May 4-10) issue of the Phuket Gazette. Digital subscribers may click here, this week and every week, to download the full newspaper.

 

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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