Friday, February 6, 2009

Two Sides of Suicide

Suicide is taking one's own life. There are two ways to group the identifications factors of those who commit suicide. One believes in complete individuality apart from the social or the other group has a complete identification to the social.

The social structures were made to bless life, be a support system and bring a sense of belonging. But, when social structures are used as a means of control of identity or are ignored altogether, then there will be a disvalueing of the individual life.

Our culture affirms the strong, independent, and brave person who can "go it alone". We understand this type of attitude as "manly",. We condone men when they are strong in bearing up under stress and we condemn or look down upon those men who express a need, or desire for community. These men are considered effeminate, or immature.

Just today it was reported that there were 24 suicides this month according to the Pentagon. There was a discussion about it on NPR. It seems that 1/3 had been deployed, 1/3 were deployed and 1/3 had not been deployed. It was suggested that the military encourage soldiers to seek help when they find it difficult to bear the stress. There didn't seem to be any universals as to "reasons". But, our culture does not affirm men "with problems" they can't handle alone.

Just recently, a man lost his job and killed his wife, himself and his 5 children. And we wonder why such despair? Some would consider this to be a lack of faith. Others would wonder about his personal life. There seems to be little understanding in our culture of a need for deeper relationships. We don't have the time, nor do we value them that much. The relationships we do have are those we find at our jobs, as we have little time to even know our neighbors.

On the other side of the spectrum, is the emmeshment of one's identity so deep that there remains little left of the individual. These are cultures that breed dependence, have strict social norms and enforce them with oppressive social control. God is useful to bring about a "controlling force" of obedience, or submission. These types of cultures do not value the individual or the creative, as this threatens the very identity of these groups. These groups survive in isolated contexts and have isolated views about life in general. Truth is known as special and independent to any "truth out there".

While one group will commit suicide because of a lack of social connection, the other will do so, because they think they do God service by annihlating themselves for "God's Kingdom", to prove their ultimate dedication to the deity or to the group.

Social structures are to be nurturing and safe environments, without domination, control of the individual's identity. Otherwise, it is a cult. Get out quick!

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