«I leave my corpse in contempt towards my adversaries»
«The person who commits suicide wants to punish the environment that has caused his/her desperate recklessness. He/She understands that his/her death prevents the aggression of the environment against him/herself and, moreover, his/her death is an eternal recrimination to the world».
May 13, 2019
«The person who commits suicide wants to punish the environment that has caused his/her desperate recklessness. He/She understands that his/her death prevents the aggression of the environment against him/herself and, moreover, his/her death is an eternal recrimination to the world».
By Víctor Sforzini
The word suicide comes originally from the modern Latin «suicidium»; of «sui» of him/herself, and the suffix «cidio» from the Latin «cidĭum», the root of «caedĕre» which means to kill.
SUICIDE AND ITS CONCOMITANTS
Due to their public connotation, there are always events that move Moors and Christians, as is the case of the recent suicide of the former President of Peru, Alan García.
These lead us to meditate; question ourselves; inquire about those issues that concern us regarding human beings socially and individually speaking, which is why I have decided to write this column addressing this sensitive topic.
Suicide is perhaps one of the enigmas that has haunted us the most through the ages, because of the feelings generated in all those involved. We can affirm that it is a problem that has accompanied humankind since we have inhabited the earth, and still do not know how to solve it.
Humanity has confronted it in different ways, seeking a solution without succeeding, including such severe penalties for those who committed it, as having no right to a sacred and Christian burial, which led many grieving families to hide such an event, or the paradox that in some societies, as a punishment, for those who were caught trying to commit suicide were executed!
We can however, make a first assertion that suicide is caused by a series of factors, among those that stand out being the environmental ones, masterfully narrated and revealed by Shakespeare when he unveils the psychological state of Hamlet (act 3, scene I) in his monologue:
- “For who would bear the whips and scorns of time, the oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely, the pangs of despised love, the law’s delay, the insolence of office and the spurns that patient merit of the unworthy takes, when he himself might his quietus make with a bare bodkin?
We must recognize that it is not easy to understand the way in which a living being can be annulled of the basic principle of staying alive, the desire to endure as long as possible, in fact, when writing these lines, I only know that I do not want to die, and yet, I must be prepared and aware that sooner or later such an unfortunate event will happen to me and all my loved ones, and that the particular world that exists only to me, as well as the experience of each one of you, will cease to exist, the day our precarious journey through time and life is the end of a dream. How distressing, isn’t it?
WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION, (WHO):
According to the (WHO), suicide is caused by:
“Mental illnesses, mainly due to:
- Alcohol use disorders:
- Substance abuse;
- Feelings of loss.
- We must emphasize that there are effective strategies to prevent suicide”.
Various cultural and social environments are important risk factors to suicide.
- Nearly 800,000 people commit suicide each year, which is the equivalent of one person every (40) forty seconds;
- Equivalent to filling twenty (20) times our National Stadium, which, by imagining such a number of dead human beings, it becomes emotionally devastating.
- For every suicide, there are many more suicide attempts every year.
- Among the general population, an attempt of unconsummated suicide is the single most important risk factor.
- 79% of all suicides occur in low- and middle-income countries;
- According to data from WHO, a thousand people commit suicide every day, and there are about ten suicide attempts for every consummated case.
- Three million people attempt suicide every year in the world.
- The frequency varies according to diverse associated factors, gender, age, marital status, socioeconomic conditions, occupation, chronic diseases, social circumstances, etc
THE CULTURE OF SUICIDE
In China, there is what is called «the culture of suicide» which, since the last decade, has led the government and the Ministry of Health of that country to generate public and health policies to combat this great psycho-social problem, given that:
- 56% of women who commit suicide in the world are Chinese.
- An average of 280,000 people takes their lives each year in this country (one death every two minutes), according to data from the Chinese Ministry of Health.
- The Asian giant, which accounts for 20 % of the world’s population (1.26 billion), records a quarter of the world’s total suicide rate and is one of the few countries where the rate is higher among women than men.
- It is the fifth cause of death in China and the first among young women ages 15 to 34 who live in rural areas”.
INCIDENCES BY GENDER AND AGE
- Suicide can occur at any age, and in 2016 it was the second leading cause of death in the age group of 15 to 29 years of age worldwide;
- Suicide is the second leading cause of death in the age group of 15 to 29 years of age in the world;
- There are more suicide attempts in men;
- But suicide attempts are higher in women than in men in their forties and seventies;
- At the age of fifteen and at twenty-five, it is higher.
- In males, the factors that increase the risk of suicide are ages over 45, widowed, separated, or divorced.
- Social isolation;
- Labor and economic difficulties;
- Depressive illnesses;
- Alcoholism (it is estimated that the use of ethyl alcohol contributes 15% to 50% of suicides.) The suicide attempt is twice as high in alcoholics as in the general population;
- Affective disorders such as morbidity, especially depression and central depletion of serotonin, both known risk factors;
- It is 20 times higher in people addicted to heroin;
- It is 5 times higher in people addicted to marijuana and cocaine.
All of them present symptoms such as:
- Antisocial personality;
- Depression and intoxication.
- Association between substance dependencies and depression is linked to increased suicide attempts.
Medical-Diagnosis and Suicide
- Recognizing a patient with suicide risk is one of the most difficult tasks the doctor faces.
- Family history is a significant factor for suicide as well as genetic predisposition for psychiatric illnesses.
- As well as biological factors, serotonin deficiency, decreased metabolism.
Affections appearing in these individuals are:
MOST COMMON METHODS
- Ingestion of pesticides;
suicide and ITS psychological motivations
I will try to find an answer to this question, but I must make it clear that such a complex issue has, as we are going to understand and discover together, too many appendages and complications to arrive at a definitive truth.
For Freud, for example, in his theory of drives, (the latter) he tells us that contradictory tendencies would exist in mankind, expressed in:
- Death drive or Thanatos;
- Life drive or Eros.
- Life can be a very painful and exhausting process.
- For much of humanity, there is more pain than pleasure, something we usually have trouble admitting;
- Death promises liberation from all conflicts;
- It seeks to dissolve the units and, in this way, destroy things;
- Eagerness to return to the initial inorganic state.
Principle of Nirvana:
- Dissolution of the Self;
- Total tranquillity, cessation of stimulation and activity;
- Violence, aggression, destruction;
- Pain, suffering.
To congregate with others; to love; to live together; are the forms that Eros manifests itself, however, the relationship with other human beings is often a source of pain and suffering.
It represents a principle of cohesion which consists in creating and promoting increasingly large units, namely:
- Life drive;
- Union with others;
- Love, eroticism, creation, reproduction;
Even before Freud, Goethe wrote the same as follows:
- «Death is something so strange that, despite all the experiences, it is considered as something impossible and always presents itself against the outside”.
Erich Fromm wrote, referring to suicide;
- «Destructive impulses, constitute a passion that works within the individual and always manages to find some object; if there are no external objects, aggression is directed at the self and suicide can come”.
That is, and as we will see by creating our column, there would be two very definite tendencies in us:
- Those that would tend to keep us alive and vital;
- Those that would tend to override the survival instinct, showing or making us feel death as something desirable, an alternative that becomes, over time, as the only one.
The explanation for all this maladjustment would be found in processes that result from interaction with the external environment and/or caused by psychiatric illnesses with their respective organic disorders.
ROLES OF EGO AND SUPER-EGO
As we can conclude and, furthermore, add that this self-injury is due to the inability of the ego:
- To successfully mourn a significant loss of an object that is valued libidinously by itself whether by death or physical separation;
- To successfully resolve its unconscious conflicts generating feelings of guilt. The feeling of guilt makes aggression turn against the ego.
- The ego, in its inability to tolerate what Freud called «insults to the ego», begins to incubate unconsciously and then consciously, punishing the world for its lack of love and consideration. Therefore, those who threaten suicide should be shown how aggressive and narcissistic they are, because they want to send everyone to «hell». They do not deserve me
In the case that I mention, the suicide of Alan García, is very clear then, which was one of his motivations.
- Finally, for many perpetrators, melancholy is the psychic condition in which the danger of suicide is surely more intense.
Having investigated the melancholic individuals about their motives of suicide ideas, they say that with their death they want to evade an unpleasant life or that they seek death to punish themselves for their multiple faults, which are not the same as those referred to in point two, since neurotic faults, coming from obsessive personalities, are not the same ones suffered by melancholic individuals, whose causes are in predispositions and organic disorders, so to speak, to not enter into further definition.
1.- SUICIDE AS A CAUSE OF UNRESOLVED MOURNING
INABILITY OF THE EGO TO RESOLVE MOURNING
The loss of a valuable loved object and an aggression turned secondarily against the ego are factors that originate in an individual the idea of seeking death as a means of resolving his conflicts, not being able to overcome the loss mentioned. This natural process is called «mourning»
- State of sadness of a person that has suffered a loss due to the death of a loved one and / or by separation;
- Each one of the happy scenes lived with his object buried and / or lost by separation is remembered, and this remembering moves him and causes pain;
- In mourning, the appreciation of reality suffers a partial disturbance;
- At that moment life seems uninteresting, the world colorless and even unpleasant;
- During its course, the ego slowly decreases the intensity of the affective burden directed to the intrapsychic representation of the lost libidinous object;
- This diminution of the intensity of affective burden – work of mourning, according to Freud’s designation – is accompanied by much sadness;
- It feels like «bad» internal objects predominate, and your internal world is in danger of being torn up. (Melanie Klein).
- We know that, in the person in mourning, the loss of the beloved person leads to an impulse to reinstate this lost loved object in the ego (Freud and Abraham).
- Sometimes self harm tendencies are presented in the form of:
- Death wish;
- Causing self harm by scratching;
- Pulling his/her hair out or,
- Committing other acts of violence against him/herself.
But, later, if everything follows its normal course:
- Emotional burden of memories originating from the mental representation of the lost object becomes smaller;
- Affective burden linked to memory is significantly decreased and,
- Therefore, pain is also less intense.
«Reality imposes upon each of the memories and hopes, its verdict that such an object no longer exists, and the ego, under the influence of the narcissistic satisfactions of life, decides to abandon its attachment to the object destroyed»
- Mourning has done its work.
When a person has suffered a loss due to death or separation from a loved one, -parents-brother/sister-children-husband-wife, and fails to resolve his/her mourning after a certain period of time, – a year and a half at the most-, we address the pathological process as «Unresolved Mourning»
Freud, tells us:
- «Normal mourning, overcomes the loss of the object as well, and it too absorbs all the energies of the ego.
In the complex psychological state of mourning for the death or separation from a loved one, let us not forget that there are many losses in the case of marital separation, both emotional and economic, there are four factors that we must value and consider:
- Decrease in the intensity of the attachments directed to the mental representation of the loved object;
- Depreciation of reality;
- Aggressive tendencies against the ego.
This whole process can be accentuated negatively, by failing to overcome the loss and approaching the possibility of suicide.
“In the individual’s mourning, the grief for the actual loss of the beloved person is greatly increased, in my view, by the unconscious fantasies of having also lost the «good» internal objects». “–Melanie Klein
Freud’s paper on “Mourning and Melancholia”, pointed out:
- “Many mourners can only make slow steps in reestablishing the bonds with the external world because they are struggling against the chaos inside;
When mourning is not resolved, depression and suicide occur. The process leading to it, especially in death loss, is:
- Identification with the loved one who has died is sometimes so intense that it can lead to wishing for the same death as that one.
When I was in Greece with a great friend, Javier Said, we had the opportunity to visit the most special places linked to the Athenian legend and Greek mythology. There our guide told us the following sad story about Aegeus, King of Athens and Father of Theseus:
- Theseus, son of the King, embarks on an expedition that was intended to end the dreaded Minotaur, but, upon the return of this mission, if he had achieved his goal, he had to change the black sails with which he would leave for the white sails of victory.
- Theseus forgets to make this change and his father, the elderly Aegean, read in the black sails of his son’s boat, that his son had died and, unable to bear it, «threw himself into the sea, which, since then, bears his name».
The same happens, for example, with Melibea’s suicide in La Celestina. Melibea’s lover, Callisto, died of a fall as he hurried down the ladder that led him to his beloved’s room.
Therefore, Melibea, before immolating herself, exclaims:
- “His death suits mine; give me strength very quickly, without delay, show me that I have let myself be dominated to follow him in everything»
As these cases show, the suicidal person longs to disappear from life, in the same way that his loved object has died.
Therefore, there is an identification with the lost object and also with the fate occurred to this object.
For that reason, in La Celestina (Twentieth scene):
MELIBEA. (Alone) «I am somewhat relieved to see how quickly I and my beloved Calisto will be together. I want to close the door, so that nobody goes up to hinder my death. Do not prevent me from leaving, do not cut me off the path by which, in a short time, I will be able to visit on this day the one who visited me last night …
PLEBERIO. Daughter Melibea, what make you there alone? What is it you would have with me? Shall I come up to you?
MELIBEA. No, good father, content you where you are, trouble not yourself, nor strive to come to me; you shall but disturb and interrupt that short speech which I am now to make unto you. Your heart shall presently be pricked with grief and shall bleed abundantly, to see the death of your only daughter. My end draws near; at hand is my rest and your passion, my ease and your pain, my hour of keeping company and your time of solitariness. You shall not need, my most honoured father, to seek out any instruments of music to assuage my sorrow; nor use any other sound, save the sound of bells, for to ring my knell, and bring my body to the grave. And, if you can hear into me for tears, if these eyes will give these ears leave to hear, you shall hear the desperate cause of this my forced yet joyful departure: see you neither speak nor weep; interrupt me not, either with tears or words; unless you mean stay more here after to be tormented, in not knowing why I do kill myself, than your heart now sorrowful to see my death. Neither ask nor answer me anything; nor question me any further than what of mine own accord I shall willingly tell you; for, when the heart is surcharged with sorrow, the ear is deaf to good counsel
2.- SUICIDE FOR FEELINGS OF GUILT
This type may be the easiest to understand and comprehend. A person feels guilty about what happened to a third party, because of his/her actions and, inside, his/her feelings of guilt are increasing neurotically, ending the process with suicide. I knew of a case where the wife was unfaithful to her husband, and unable to bear the guilt, she ended up immolating herself, after leaving two letters, spraying her body with paraffin and setting herself on fire.
Self-reproaches are here the unbearable element for the ego, moreover, the presence of a severe and sadistic super-ego as a judge, which ends in a punishment that is typical of people who are too obsessive and perfectionist.
3.- SUICIDE FOR “HAVING THE EGO DEFAMED”
Suicide is an act of narcissistic aggression; this is our second assertion.
For many years, laymen and experts have argued about, Why and for what reason does a person commit an act as severe as suicide?
Even as a child, I listened to whether one had to be brave or cowardly, and the arguments of one side and the other did not stop.
Today we know that, you just have to be ill, but:
- Ill of what?
- Is it enough to say that it is depression?
I think it is not, and we will try to go along with them, part of the way, inquiring, concluding and listening to the man himself speak through his acts, speculations, literary characters, to understand what the act of President Alan Garcia, a man I admired for his intelligence, shows us.
I can start by saying that it can be observed in many of the cases of suicide that the aggressive desire of the suicidal person is directly addressed to the outside world,.
- The suicidal person wants to punish the environment that has caused his desperate resolution.
- The suicidal person understands that his/her death prevents the aggression of the environment towards him/herself and, also, his/her death is a continuous and «eternal act of recrimination to the world, and to all of us, his/her acquaintances».
Adler, for example, argues this desire for revenge against the environment as the most important factor in the Psychology of suicide when he writes:
«In this way, a situation arises in the unconscious where the disease is desired and even death, being both to embitter relatives and also to make them understand the value of the life that they had treated badly. In my experience, this constellation is the current basis of cases and suicide attempts”.
For this reason, we can affirm that:
SUICIDE IS AN ACT OF SADISM AND INTENSE SELF-SADISM
SUICIDE AS SELF HARM
If we assume that behind the act of suicide, there is a self harm, we should then say that this can be acute or chronic:
- Acute self-harm happens in a jiffy, that is to say, the suicide by means of a shot in the head, which would correspond to the act planned by former Peruvian President Alan Garcia.
- Chronic self harm takes place day by day, for a prolonged time.
That’s why we say:
- Drug addiction;
- Compulsion to smoke, smoking, are slow suicides
Let us meditate on suicide from the point of view of self harm:
- The ego perpetrates such violent action against itself that it manages to destroy itself to such a point that it ceases to exist for eternity.
FAILURE TO RETURN AGGRESSION
Often, failure to return the aggression to the outside world, generates ruminative thoughts; desire for revenge that will sadly end in a suicidal act, that is, the return of aggression against the ego, for failing to return aggression directly to the outside world.
Whether it be in a situation of inferiority as far as power is concerned, whatever its nature, which makes it impossible, among others, to recover human dignity, self aggression is sadly, «the way out».
We find these cases in history, in literature, in opera. Let’s see some examples:
- King Charles VIII of France was physically ugly and, moreover, had severe halitosis, which was disgusting. In Naples, he ordered a group of young fisherwomen from Santa Lucia to be brought and, choosing among them the prettiest, a beautiful sixteen-year-old girl, spent the whole night in his company, forcing her to have sex with him. In the morning, the maiden, disgusted by what happened that night, climbed a rock and committed suicide by throwing herself into the sea
- The suicide of this girl is due to her desire to kill the king, which she was not able to carry out and which turned against herself. Her suicide, psychologically means to want to kill the king.
Shakespeare tells us a very similar case, after referring to the rape of Lucretia by Tarquinius, and he makes her exclaim:
- “The only remedy is to let forth foul-defiled blood … My honour I’ll bequeath unto the knife that wounds my body so dishonoured. It is honour to deprive dishonoured life. The one will live, the other being dead. So of shame’s ashes shall my fame be bred. For in my death I murder shamefull scorn. My shame so dead, mine honour is new born.
Dear lord of that dear jewel I have lost, What legacy shall I bequeath to you? My resolution, love, shall be your boast. By those examples you revenged may be”.
The story is as follows: It is known that her beauty and honesty impressed Sextus Tarquinius very much. To satisfy the frantic desires he felt for her, he asked Lucretia for hospitality when her husband was absent. Taking advantage of the darkness of the night, he entered Lucretia’s room and raped her. The next day Lucretia called her father and husband, and told them about the rape ocurred. She asked them for revenge against Sextus Tarquinius, and stabbed herself with a knife after pronouncing that admirable phrase; No dame hereafter living, By my excuse shall clam excuses giving.”
I must confess, that the author of these lines, as a result of a scam committed by officials of one of the largest banks in the country, – about ten years ago, -leaving my family in total material, emotional and psychological helplessness, and the feeling of impotence in front of an act technically «endorsed» by justice, with the learning that justice is «technicality» and not the romantic idea that we have of it, like every human being in front of such a strong and unjust aggression, I went through thoughts and «suicide scenes». I decided to «stay», because I love life over any situation or circumstance. Yes, the fight is not over and I am writing a book where I will give all the background, to seek psycho-emotional «repair» and «justice» that was denied.
SUICIDE AS A SACRIFICE FOR LOVE
Rigoletto and his tragedy that ends in the «suicide» of his daughter in an act of love, shows us all the intensity of human feelings and passions.
We know from the experiences of public figures, who have committed suicide, among them Alan García, that they have always left a letter explaining their reasons with messages to many of their closest people and enemies.
Previous confessions of suicidal people through their farewell letters prove that by killing themselves they psychologically annul the loss of such an object. It is, for example, the case of the suicide of whom the beloved woman dies, «to live eternally with her «.
ALAN GARCIA’S SUICIDE
We present now, for your own analysis and reflection, the letter that he already had written and signed, even with his fingerprint, seeking with it to degrade his enemies and end up going down in history both in life and death:
«THE REASON OF MY ACT»
FULL LETTER FROM EX-PRESIDENT ALAN GARCIA
THE REASON OF MY ACT
|I fulfilled the mission of leading the Apra to power on two occasions, and promoted again its social force. I think that was the mission of my existence, having roots in my blood for this movement. For this reason, and due to the unforeseen events of power, our opponents opted for the strategy of criminalizing me for more than thirty years. But they never found anything, and I defeated them again, because they will never find more than their speculations and frustrations.
In this time of repeated rumors and hatreds that the majorities believe to be the truth, I have seen how procedures are used to humiliate or vex and not to find the truths. For many years, I stood above the insults, I defended myself, and the homage of my enemies was to argue that Alan Garcia was intelligent enough so that they could not prove their slander. There were no accounts, neither bribes nor wealth. History has more value than any material wealth. There could never be high enough price to break my pride of Aprista and Peruvian. That’s why I repeated: others sell themselves, I do not.
Having fulfilled my duty in politics and works on behalf of the people; reached the goals that other countries or governments have not achieved, I do not have to accept humiliations. I have seen others parading in handcuffs guarding their miserable existence, but Alan Garcia does not have to suffer these injustices and circuses. Therefore, I leave my children the dignity of my decisions, my colleagues a sign of pride, and my adversaries, my corpse, as a sign of contempt, because I’ve already fulfilled the mission that I set for myself.
May God, to whom I go with dignity, protect those with good hearts and the humblest ones.
4.- SUICIDE BY ILLNESS
Alfredo de Vigny, in Chatterton, describes the motivation of the protagonist’s suicide in the following way:
«He is attacked by a deadly illness, almost completely incurable and often contagious; a terrible disease that takes over especially young, ardent and new souls in life, who desire the love of beauty and justice and who come into the world to find at every step all the ugliness and iniquities of a poorly constructed society. This evil is the hatred of life and the love of death: it is stubborn suicide.
SUICIDE IN DIFFERENT CULTURES
We can always observe that the conflict results in a self-aggression or a very special, narcissistic and / or cultural way of attacking others, through the act of self-aggression and self-destruction of the ego, in the fatal sense.
Many authors have studied the aggression against the external world in some ethnographic investigations, which show us how suicide has or has had a high connotation of aggressiveness to the environment or to some particular enemy in some tribes or towns:
- Among some tribes of the Gold Coast, it was common for an individual, before committing suicide, to impute his extreme resolution to the conduct of a third party. He was obliged to suffer the same death; such practice, based on the law of the tribe, is called «own death on the head of another.»
- Among the Tlingit Indians, the offended person, incapable of revenge, attempts against his life in order to expose the offender to the revenge of relatives and friends.
- Among the chuvaches (Simbirsk, Russia) it was formerly a practice for angry people to hang themselves at the doorsteps of the house of the person causing their anger.
- In China, committing suicide to take revenge on an enemy beyond reach is a source of admiration.
- According to Chinese theories, this is the most effective system of revenge, not only because the laws bear responsibility for suicide on who caused it, but also because it is said that the soul, freed from the sheath and impairment of the body, has better disposition than a living man to pursue the enemy
The aggressive force of suicide against the outside, especially if it is done in a collective way, is so intense that it is sometimes used as a means to decide the fate of an important act; for example, a combat.
- Granet says that, in China, in the old days, before starting a combat, «the brave ones destined for death were sent forth . . . When they reached the place where the enemy was, they shouted intensely and then cut their throats.
SUICIDE FROM LITERATURE
Long before psychology, the poet, the man of letters, unveiled the human soul with his unconscious motivations, leaving to us archetypes such as Oedipus, Othello, Don Juan, Don Quixote and many others. An act and event such as suicide could not escape its keen eyes, here are some examples:
In Antonio and Cleopatra by Shakespeare, fourth act, scene XVI, Antonio exclaims when committing suicide: «[Peace! Not Caesar’s valour hath o’erthrown Antony, but Antony’s hath triumph’d on itself. It had to be like that. Nobody but Antonio could beat Antonio. But what a disgrace that this happened!
In the same work, act fifth, scene H, Cleopatra takes an asp, which is applied to her breast while exclaiming: “Give me my robe; put on my crown; I have inmortal longings in me. Now no more the juice of Egypt’s grape shall moist these lips. I hear Anthony call; I see him rouse himself to praise my noble act. I hear him mock the luck of Caesar. Husband, I come: Now to that name my courage prove my title”! . . .
In Julio Cesar, by Shakespeare, fifth act, scene V:
Brutus: “Our enemies have beat us to the pit: It is more worthy to leap in ourselves, than tarry till they push us.”!
Goethe makes Werther say:
«Mankind is of such short range that it does not understand the beginning nor the end of its existence»
In the famous monologue by Hamlet (act three, scene I) we can observe the moment when, faced with the impossibility of fighting against aggression from the outside world, the ego turns its aggressive desires against itself and thinks about suicide:
HAMLET: To be, or not to be, that is the question! Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer?:
The slings and arrows of outrageous Fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them? To die. . ., to sleep, no more!, and by a sleep to say we end the heartache and the thousand natural shocks that flesh! Is heir to: ‘tis a consummation devoutedly to be wish’d!. To die… to sleep!
Shakespeare through Hamlet, makes us deliberate whether we should seek amends for adversity through death itself.
HISTORICAL CHARACTERS WHO HAVE COMMITTED SUICIDE
(Apart from those already mentioned)
Died by suicide:
- Anibal, sipping the poison from his ring so as not to be a prisoner of the Romans;
- Themistocles who preferred to poison himself before attacking his homeland;
- Demosthenes who chose the Temple of Neptune to poison himself before falling into the power of Alexander the Great;
- Socrates who drank the hemlock to end his life.
JOKE AND SUICIDE
—Four friends of mine have committed suicide. One of them, poor Enrique— because his woman died.
And the other three?
— Precisely the opposite.
The mechanism of this joke is as follows: The three friends were married to some women so unbearable that they wanted to kill them. Since carrying out such death wishes was impossible, they had to turn the aggression against themselves, committing suicide. This mechanism, expressed in the joke by means of an ellipsis and by the contrast with the behavior of the first friend, makes us laugh, discovering deep psychological processes.
We know that there are no «innocent» acts and that, in general, even in the most calamitous situations for the ego, there is always some secondary gain. For example, for Bromberg and Schilder, death has different meanings in the unconscious and conscious psychological experience of suicide:
- Escaping an intolerable situation.
- In death, a new life is lived, without any of the difficulties of current life, with which the idea of death becomes a kind of game.
- Death can mean a method of forcing others to give more love than they would otherwise would have given.
- Death can mean the greatest narcissistic perfection, which gives the individual a permanent and immovable importance. In Mishima’s story, which you can find in his books and in the homonymous film, you can live the experience of understanding what is expressed here.
- Death satisfies masochistic tendencies; it is an idea of self-punishment, since it perpetuates in death the suffering inflicted by self-punishment.
- The eternity of hellfire reflects this psychological attitude.
WHAT IS THE CHRISTIAN POINT OF VIEW ABOUT SUICIDE?
In such an important and transversal topic, it is essential for our analysis to incorporate the Christian vision of suicide, from the biblical accounts and the interpretation of the religious man, finding certain contradictions, but also great consistency in others, mainly the following with which I fully identify:
Suicide is shocking and has a terribly traumatic effect upon those who remain. Because that is the case, some view suicide as “an unforgivable sin.” But it is not “a worse sin” than others.» Certainly, we can make a judgment that suicide is the wrong way to deal with one’s problems, but we should leave eternal judgment up to God.»
The Bible considers suicide equal to murder – that’s what it is – to murder oneself. God is the one who will decide when and how a person will die.
According to the Bible, suicide is not what determines whether a person gets into heaven. If an unsaved person commits suicide, he has done nothing but «speed up» his journey to hell. However:
- The person who committed suicide will be in hell for rejecting salvation through Christ, not because he committed suicide.
Suicide remains a grave sin against God. According to the Bible, suicide is murder; it is always wrong.
«Some religions teach that suicide is an unforgivable sin. But what does the Bible say about suicide?
- There can be no doubt that intentionally killing oneself is a sin, in light of the Sixth Commandment, which clearly states: «You sall not murder» (Exodus 20:13), and suicide is murdering oneself.
However, we should not be quick to condemn a person who dies in this manner, for typically, he or she has been dealing with weighty problems, which might include:
- Drug addiction;
- Including alcoholism;
- Certain mental illnesses may also be included, which can be difficult to comprehend even for those who deal with them professionally;
- In addition, the person who commits suicide has often been dealing with these issues secretly, the depth of his or her struggle known only to himself or herself.
Would God condemn someone for all eternity whose last act is a sin? We should not presume to make a judgment about one’s eternal destiny.
- Passing final judgment is God’s prerogative, which He has delegated to Jesus Christ (John 5:22), not to us.
- Certainly, we can make a judgment that suicide is the wrong way to deal with one’s problems, but we should leave eternal judgment up to God.
Could God extend mercy, even to a believer who takes his or her life? After all, a believer certainly knows that suicide is wrong. Consider what the Psalms show about the character of God:
- “For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him” (Psalm 103:11). The Bible even weighs mercy against judgment, concluding that “mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13).
Thankfully, God judges each of us on our entire Christian life, rather than upon a single mistake.
- Countless people die without repenting of the many sins they have committed in their lifetime. What happens after we die—including someone who takes his or her life—if we have not repented of our sins?
The truth is that God has not finished working with most people who have lived and died.
- Being the epitome of fairness, He would in no way condemn someone who died without ever having understood God’s plan of salvation.
- God does not condemn anyone without first teaching that person how he or she is expected to live, without giving that person the spiritual ability to understand, as well as the capacity to live up to his expectations. Even after converting someone, God continues to work with him or her, virtually coaching and encouraging anyone who has made mistakes (and everyone does) to turn from them and return to the right pathway.
In summary, it gives much reason for hope about the future of one who dies by his or her own hand. We hope that the truth is comforting to our readers who struggle with the terrible grief that only those close to one who dies by suicide can know.
SUICIDE IN THE BIBLE
Suicides go back to the oldest of mankind. In the Bible, in both the Old and New Testaments, several suicides are referred to:
- The first biblical suicide is Abimelech’s (Judges 9:54) As described, Abimelech came to the tower to attack them … But a woman threw a millstone on his head and broke his skull. He immediately called the boy who carried his weapons and said, «‘Draw your sword and finish me off, that they may not say of me, «A woman killed him!»‘ Without delay, his attendant stabbed him, and he died. The weapon used to carry out the suicidal act is the weapon made of steel.
- The second case of suicide recorded in the Bible is Samson´s (Judges 16:30) death, who makes a request to Yahweh to restore strength and take revenge on the Philistines for the loss of his two eyes. And that moment is described in the following way: “Let me die with the Philistines!” Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus, he killed many more when he died than while he lived.” This episode masterly describes the so-called extended homicide, because it drags to death other people who do not wish to die. In this case the method used to commit suicide is crushing.
- The other two suicides described in the Bible are those of Saul and his armour-bearer (1 Samuel 31:4-5). Saul said to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and run me through, or these uncircumcised fellows will come and run me through and abuse me.” But his armor-bearer was terrified and would not do it; so, Saul took his own sword and fell on it. When the armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he too fell on his sword and died with him.
- A fifth suicide described in the biblical texts is Ahithophel’s (2 Samuel 17:23). Ahitthophel was a counselor whose words were considered divine by both David and Absalom. It is quoted that “When Ahithophel saw that his advice had not been followed, he saddled his donkey and set out for his house in his hometown. He had “put his house in order and then hanged himself.” This description of the event is interesting because it depicts Ahithophel’s feelings of uselessness and because «putting things in order» is also a well-demonstrated sign of an individual contemplating suicide. The method chosen, hanging, is the third one described so far.
- The sixth suicide presented in the sacred book is Zimri’s (1 Kings 16:18). “When this cruel King saw that the city was taken, he went into the citadel of the royal palace and set the palace on fire around him and he died”. Here the fourth method of committing suicide is announced: fire.
- Eleazar, who was called Abaran, is the seventh biblical suicide (1 Maccabees 6:46). Like Samson, he died by crushing, but differs in the origin of the act. While Samson did it for revenge as the strong and long-haired blind man, and by altruism on Eleazar who wanted to cause the death of a leader mounted on an elephant. One died crushed by man’s creation (Samson) and the other by a creature of nature. An everlasting fame … When the elephant came, he slipped beneath it and gave the animal a deadly strike on his belly. When the elephant fell down, it crushed him and he died right there”. This is certainly an altruistic suicide.
- The eighth suicide described in the Bible is that of Ptolemy Macron (2 Maccabees 10: 13) He was continously accused of being a traitor after leaving the Island of Cyprus, which had been confided to Philometor, to join Antiochus Epiphanes’ party. Not being able to fulfill such a huge task decently, he felt desperate and decided to end his life by poisoning himself. Substance ingestion appeared as as suicidal method for the first time and this is also the first “soft or non-violent” method described, since the rest of the methods mentioned can be considered “hard or violent”. The poor self-esteem stemming from the traitor epithet may have contributed to Macron’s fatal end.
- The ninth suicide mentioned in the Bible is that of Razis (2 Macabeos 14-46) who was one of the elders of Jerusalem. It is said that when “Razis found himself completely surrounded by his enemies, he wounded himself with his sword. He preferred to die bravely than suffer the insults unworthy of his noble origin. This biblical character was a bearer of high degree of suicidality because he used various methods: knife wound in the abdomen, precipitation and evisceration. It could be considered an altruistic suicide, and it is the last one that appears in the Old Testament.
- In Tobías 3, 10 suicidal thoughts of Sara are discribed, who “was so depressed that she decided to hang herself. But she thought: I am his only one daughter. If I happened to do such a thing, what a shame for him! Because of me his old age would be filled with sadness.» Inside Sara, affliction is correlated with the desire to die, feelings of loneliness, pessimism and suicidal ideation, all that caused by psychotraumatic life events, such as the loss of loved ones and mockery at their relationships with others.
In the New Testament, only one suicide is presented. You can read it in Matthew 27:5:
“So, he threw the Money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself”. In previous verses the condition of Judas Iscariot is described, as «full of remorse», or the guilt for having betrayed Jesus.
However, in 1 Acts 16-19, where reference is made to Peter’s speech:
- “Men and Brothers, this scripture must need to be fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spoke before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus … We know that this man acquired a field with the price of his wickedness, and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his intestines gushed out. And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the field was called: Field of Blood.
«As it is evident in Acts, the method chosen by Judas to consummate suicide is precipitation and not hanging, which has been classically attributed to him.”.
WHAT DOES DEATH MEAN FOR A SUICIDAL PERSON?
Let us meditate, question and reflect at the end of our analysis:
- What is the psychological value of the representation of death in an individual with suicidal tendencies, apart from all the points and reasons explained so far?
What does death mean for the immolated person?
Generally, we think that for the suicidal person death has only the meaning of getting rid of the conflicts that tormented him, seeking refuge in nothing. However, this initial vision, while it seems logical, is not accurate, since we have mentioned that suicide is multifactorial.
Kauders, for example, tells us that death, as a denial of existence, is not the sole purpose of suicide, stating that:
- «In suicide we cannot see exclusively an escape from life;
- “Motives of suicide are not provided by death or thought of death, but life itself”
It is sufficiently argued to conclude that the suicidal person, when killing himself, manages to get rid of the aggression of the environment in which he lives, which is a success for him, since the environment that oppresses him is frustrated in its intentions.
Also, that, in the act of extreme narcissism, many people commit this act to punish the world, placing themselves in a position of supremacy over others, you do not deserve me and here I leave this world of … …And, now, suffer the consequences of my suicide.
Therefore, the suicidal person is aware that his suicide will generate a series of affective reactions among the people who lived with him and thinking about the nature and intensity of these reactions is one of the reasons that motivate him to commit suicide.
SUICIDAL PERSONS IN MY LIFE R.I.P.
Who does not have or has known a close one; family member and / or friend who has not suffered the terrible experience of suicide?
To all those people I list below, as well as all those who have chosen the path to end their existence, -some at an early age-, as V.K.G., a medical student, a beautiful and sensitive person, who committed suicide in the year 1973, at 19 years old; I regret not having the possibility of being closer, and I pay a posthumous tribute thanking them for having known them and shared their lives
- Vivian K. G., daughter of a friend of my father.
- Enrique Devaud Riquelme, a great friend of my hometown Lautaro.
- Eduardo Bonvallet, a known person
- A friend’s wife.
- A friend of my daughter Romina
- Nino García, a friend, a great person.
- Wife of a friend, who did not bear the guilt for her act of infidelity; leaving two letters explaining her reasons. She sprayed herself with paraffin and immolated herself.
- Mother of a friend of mine, who blew herself up in front of her parents’ house as an act of punishment against them, for their perverse interference in her life.
- Father of a friend of mine
- Franco Carcuro, a basketball friend on weekends
May they rest in peace and may they have found what they believed was not the end, but rather a new beginning.
Chicago, Spring 2019.
By Víctor Sforzini Sepúlveda