Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Why Do We Crucify Ourselves?

One thing I discovered in the course of my own research on suicide (for academic, not personal, purposes) is that suicides and attempted suicides are, for the most part, very different phenomena. People who actually intend to kill themselves usually succeed once they put their minds to it. Most people who try and fail are not really wanting to end up dead, but seeking attention.

Here’s further evidence for that proposition, courtesy of Radley:
A Hartland man was treated at a Pittsfield hospital after he nailed himself to a cross. The 23-year-old man apparently was trying to commit suicide Thursday evening in his living room, the Bangor Daily News reported...

...Lt. Pierre Boucher said the man took two pieces of wood, nailed them together in the form of a cross and placed them on the floor. He attached a suicide sign to the wood and then proceeded to nail one of his hands to the makeshift cross using a 14-penny nail and a hammer.

"When he realized that he was unable to nail his other hand to the board, he called 911," Boucher said.

It was unclear whether the man was seeking assistance for his injury or help in nailing down his other hand.
I wonder if he was listening to Tori Amos’s “Little Earthquakes” album while he did it.

Do I feel bad for making light of the situation? Not really. I feel bad for people so unhappy that they want to be dead. I also feel bad for people so unhappy they’re willing to harm themselves for attention. But when we lavish positive attention on those who seek it by means of attempted suicide, we make it even more likely that other people (or even the same people again) will employ this destructive and expensive attention-getting method. They should be encouraged to actually speak up and ask for the help they need.

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