Arguably one of the most controversial subjects possible in discussion, the mere mention of “suicide” or killing of oneself, raises eyebrows and imposes a sense of caution in any conversation to follow. A related subject, and a common cause of the same in the person concerned, namely ‘depression’, is about just as unpleasant a subject for most. A common perspective regarding depression is of disgust and pity, but with increased communication, it is increasingly being recognized as not only a state of mind, but a psychobiological disorder; which in turn begs the question – what is the most appropriate way to look at a person who commits or attempts suicide? Should the individual be pitied, blamed or cured?
The laws of several nations view an attempt at suicide as a constitutional crime, citing as the source of the argument several religious and philosophical perspectives prohibiting the waste of one’s own body, essentially viewed as the “temple of the living soul”. Though on several human grounds, the accusation may sound appropriate, but it is important to decide if the individual concerned is to be seen as a criminal or as a patient in dire need of cure. To put things into perspective, let us compare the situation to that of a person undergoing a treatment for a disease, say, cancer. It is easy to look at the physical disorder and not only recognize it, but to attempt to cure it, which is at times even successful. On the other hand, a person attempting suicide as a result of a chronic depression might not often be a recognizable patient at all. This brings us to the realization that we, as a collective society, are in a dire need of change regarding our understanding of mental health of humans.
The comparison attempted here may be seen by some as illogical, and by some as even blasphemous. But as long as we as a society are unable to understand the “soul” whose “temple” we tend to call our bodies, we need to stick to our available definitive knowledge of the human mind, and to attempt a better understanding of its relation with the body and its existence as an entity of its own. We need to know the mind’s suffering better than our present logics tend to, and to find cures instead of accusing such humans who need kindness more than ever.