“Killing one’s self is the most selfish thing anyone can do.”
It’s a refrain we hear continuously when somebody commits suicide. It’s the same thought I initially had when I first heard about Freddie E. killing himself. Who am I, or anyone else to say that? I was wrong for thinking it.
It’s “Monday Morning Quartebacking” a situation that has no chance of being corrected. We don’t know what drove him to take his own life. The decedent’s family are really the only ones who have a right to feel like this. But the reality is, they’re just as selfish. Oh, it’s unpopular to say that, but that fact doesn’t make it any less true. Granted, it’s fueled by grief, anger, and other assorted emotions, but the fact remains.
People who take their own life have their reasons. What isn’t up for debate is that just because those of us left don’t understand it, there are still reasons. Just about anything could combine to fuel the feelings that nothing will get better and the only option is death. Emotional, environmental, mental, and physical factors can play a part in it. Financial and physiological factors do too.
In the monolithic black community, the same factors for those in other communities that commit suicide exists. We just never deal with it. We say how we don’t understand how one of us could do it. Proclamations are made about how “I’d never do that.” For the people making these assumptions (that is what they are) please stop. Just because a situation hasn’t arisen where you’ve felt like ending it all, never take it for granted that one can.
Reports and studies have attempted to pinpoint why black men in particular are killing themselves in greater numbers. Of course nothing is definitive, but these studies do begin to form a frame of reference for us to examine. The speculative and subjective nature of the topic cannot be denied. Nor can the necessity of identifying the root causes of suicide.
Everyone can’t be saved, and it would be foolish to try. Our community can do more to find ways to help those who are reaching out however. We must take time to recognize the signs of those in distress. Passing on a phone number to a hotline is cool, but can we invest in these men? Society has basically said we’re not worth saving, but as quiet as it really is kept, black men are the backbone of our community. If we’re not here to hold it up, our ‘hoods and families will continue to crumble. Compound this with the havoc wrought from killing themselves and the fabric of our communities gets torn; sometimes irreparably.
Nothing about suicide is easy to accept, or deal with. Our aim should be to move the discussion closer to the center of attention. If more people (especially black men), begin to understand how it affects those left, maybe that will help stem the tide of unnecessary deaths.