SSR Inspired Discussion Post: Is it Good or Bad to Look for a Living Human Cause of a Suicide?

IMPORTANT RULE: on this post, you CANNOT discuss anything related to Sushant Singh Rajput’s death. I will edit any comment that includes details related to that tragedy. That is still in process, there are no clear answers to anything, it is not a valid example in a debate. But you can talk about absolutely anything else, including personal experiences. Suicide is a good thing for people to talk about, I think. It removes the shame from it, and some of the power.

I am going to start by giving two personal examples from my own life. I want to say that I am very distantly connected to these examples and I have no real right to share them. But I hope that we will have a healthy loving discussion space here and therefore honor these deaths and make it okay for me to share them.

The grown daughter of a friend of my mother’s killed herself after years of struggle with depression. She had just had lunch with her mother that day, and seemed happy. Her mother had no idea anything was wrong and made no particular effort to check on her or make sure she was safe and happy.

Now breath deep, and listen to something beautiful, and feel calm

The teenage son of a co-worker of my father killed himself, after he missed a shot in a game and his high school basketball coach had yelled at and humiliated him in front of his teammates, the coach had already had several complaints filed against him for similar inappropriate behavior towards his students.

Breath again, shake off the sadness, feel calm

When someone takes their own life, there is an immediate painful sense of guilt that ripples out to all who knew them.

Is there any benefit in investigating and trying to narrow that guilt down to certain parties at fault?

Or does a quest for blame just magnify the pain?

Is there truly ever any blame to find, or is it just the decision of the person who took their own life?

Or is it case by case whether there is blame to be found, and if so, who has the right to make that decision? The State, the Family, the Doctors, who?

In the two examples I give above, I feel that the first one would just be ripping up needless pain to try to look for an answer. While I feel like the second one would have had some kind of benefit to trying to find an answer. But why do I feel like that? What is the difference between the two? I honestly don’t know.

I don’t think a random internet site is going to come up with the answers to these big questions, but I think there is a benefit in all of us thinking about these questions and listening with respect and love to each other’s thoughts.

40 thoughts on “SSR Inspired Discussion Post: Is it Good or Bad to Look for a Living Human Cause of a Suicide?

  1. My perspective on the second example is that the same coach yelled at many teens over the years but it was the vulnerable teen who killed himself. The coach’s behavior was reprehensible but the kid was at risk because of other factors. The coach should be held responsible for his behavior but is he really the cause of the teen’s death or would the teen have reacted similarly to another stressor?

    A personal story: when I was 16 I broke up with a high school boyfriend and started dating another boy who was his friend (very teenage drama). My ex boyfriend threatened to kill himself and I got very angry and told him that if he chose to do that it was on him and I didn’t appreciate the threat which was clearly meant to guilt and shame me for ending the relationship (he didn’t kill himself). It’s also a known thing that sometimes suicides are a form of revenge so the idea of a person who dies from suicide being victimized by someone else is murky.

    My ultimate takeaway is abusive conduct should always be called out but fixing on one reason for someone’s suicide is almost impossible. I know people who survived soul shriveling levels of childhood abuse and didn’t kill themselves and I know people who had loving families who did kill themselves.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ll give you a similar challenge with your 16 year old example. In that case, it was a threat and revenge. But you can also have the situation where someone’s mental health is already fragile and you know breaking up with them, or otherwise disappointing them (being their best friend and wanting to take a job opportunity across the country, being their child and wanting to leave home for college, etc.) could have fatal ramifications. At what point do you take that risk? At what point do you decide you have to put your needs first, even though it could be a fatal mistake? Do you ever?

      For the coach, perhaps it should go both ways, he can’t be held responsible for the tragic consequences this time. But he also should not be held fully innocent for all those other times. If you are acting in such a way that a vulnerable person could be driven to death, it is unacceptable, whether or not that person actual acts. Does that make sense? Because you don’t know, you don’t know if the person you are talking to is vulnerable or not, and therefore any time your behavior crosses that line, it is wrong. Kind of like drunk driving, doesn’t matter if nothing bad actually happened, it was reckless.

      On Wed, Jul 29, 2020 at 1:56 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • If you’re not doing something for yourself that isn’t abusive or evil because you’re afraid you’re going to trigger someone’s suicide, that’s an abusive dynamic. No one should be held hostage to someone else’s mental illness. I have enormous sympathy for people who are ill but if you are afraid for example to take a job because of someone else’s suicide threat, that is waaaaay over the line.

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        • Let me put it another way, not suicide threat, but suicide possibility. You know this person has a condition that could lead to suicide, you know that your presence is part of them maintaining stability in life, I think for some people the answer is “yes, I am going to put off this dream job, because my wife has post-partum depression and she can’t handle the move right now”. Like that.

          On Wed, Jul 29, 2020 at 5:59 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  2. I don’t see the point of doing it, because the issue is extremely complex and you’ll never know the real “cause”, and if you did, what are you going to do with that person? I don’t think it is even a crime where I live. With someone like the bullying coach, even if that was the sole cause, the school and everyone else who could have stopped and addressed the bullying is just as “guilty” in that moment even, let alone in the long run. Even then, you really have no idea why someone does something. That bullying might not have contributed at all.

    Speculating on causes of suicide in public is harmful to vulnerable people because of ithe general bad influence of speculating on causes of suicide, and because you might inspire people to copycat based on a desire for revenge.

    I support a seperate, unconnected from the death conversation about someone’s life and what happened in it, and how certain problems could be fixed, but speculating on specific causes of suicide is so extremely damaging that it should never happen.

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    • I like your conclusion. So perhaps, a conversation about “why was this person sad and how could we have helped them feel happier”, which would be the same conversation whether there was a suicide or whether they simply announced they were taking a break from working for 6 months.

      In fact, I would like to expand that, and have a similar rule for divorce and drug addiction. The end tragedy seems to overshadow everything else, just take it away. Ask, “why was this an unhappy marriage?” and “why did this person feel the need to escape their problems”. It’s not about the drama of the tragedy, it’s about the person and what they were feeling before hand.

      On Wed, Jul 29, 2020 at 2:34 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • It’s the same conversation you should be having about a person who has severe problems, or who had a suicide attempt and lived, and I don’t see why it should be different just because the person died. Except in those cases, people still want to be able to blame one person, and that person is the sufferer.

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  3. I agree with you that suicide needs to be talked about openly. So because I really trust the safety of this space, I will trust you with my mother’s story. She might not appreciate that, but in this case, I also trust the relative anonymity of the internet. My mother actually tried to overdose on her antidepressants once. I fully blame that on the illness. (I think there is actually evidence that people suffering from depression will seem much happier after they’ve just decided to end their lives, just as a heads up for anyone who ever encounters such a situation.) But it was no one’s fault. People die from heart attacks all the time. The best you can do as friends and family is try to follow the doctors’ suggestions.

    In the case of your bullied teenaged sportsman above, I think there is reason to look into the coach’s behavior. Not specifically because of the suicide, but because he seems to have used unacceptable levels of bullying in general. If the suicide draws attention to that, that’s good. And I think that behavior can then be persecuted without excluding all the other cases that didn’t lead to a suicide.

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    • I am so sorry your mother is sick, and I hope she is doing better now.

      I like your heart attack comparison. Because like heart disease, it is something that can be diagnosed and monitored and treated, but not really “cured”. You can watch your loved ones for signs of a heart attack, and help them to eat healthy, and remind them to take their pills, but there’s still nothing you can fully control. Just do the best you can and hope for the best.

      That hope of drawing attention is actually my hope with this post. I don’t want to talk about SSR, but if his death can help us to think about these bigger questions, then that is okay. I don’t think suicide, an individual suicide, can ever be fully understood. But perhaps it can make us think about the person and the things in their life around it.

      On Wed, Jul 29, 2020 at 2:54 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • My mom is fine these days, thanks for asking. I could have clarified that right away. The more extensive therapy she got after that incident really helped and her current medication regimen works well.

        Which leads me to the point below, about the “right” to take your own life. I would say of course a person’s right to their own life includes the right to end it. Yes, even if others depend on them. After all, how much can a child really rely on a parent that would rather be dead.

        My caveat is more along the lines of really being sure of your decision. I think most people who are saved from a suicide attempt are happy about that later.

        So if anyone tells me they are contemplating suicide, I would always look for other options first. Even someone who is like terminally ill with only more pain awaiting them. Those are the cases that are discussed in Germany from time to time: Should medically assisted suicide for the terminally ill be legalized? For myself I’ve come to the conclusion that I’d rather keep things the way they are. That way, “abetting a suicide” only becomes an option when you think the patient’s situation is bad enough that you’re willing to bear the legal repercussions.

        If we’re talking about someone causing another to even contemplate suicide, however, (like the dowry deaths described below) I consider that a whole different crime. I haven’t ever heard of any case in Germany, but my feeling is that that would be considered more along the lines of murder, even if it happened by basically forcing the woman into taking her own life.

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        • There’s also people who think they want to die because of their situation, and the solution should be to look at the situation. I’m not thinking “untreatable depression”, I’m thinking more like “I’m pregnant and not married”. The solution isn’t suicide, the solution is giving them a way out that is less scary than death. In India, there is a spike in suicides when exam results are released, and to me that is a completely unacceptable thing. No teenager should see death as the only option when they fail an exam. There has to be a bigger solution here. I guess that would be suicide as a symptom of a social ill, not just a personal tragedy. Yes?

          I like your point about keeping suicide assistance as illegal just to make it as rare as possible, but I think there could be a legal happy midpoint. Something that is technically legal, but has so many almost impossible hoops you still have to really REALLY want it.

          On Thu, Jul 30, 2020 at 2:07 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  4. Is there any benefit in investigating and trying to narrow that guilt down to certain parties at fault?

    Yes. If you are particularly close to that person you think of you are in some way to blame for the suicide. You wonder if it was because you didn’t not pay enough attention to that person. You wonder if you could have prevented it. Trying to Narrow it down to a guilty party may not be morally correct, especially when you have zero evidence, but I can see a benefit for it.

    Or does a quest for blame just magnify the pain?

    This is also true. Like I said in the response in the first question, you need evidence before you can start pointing fingers. The pain doesn’t come from the quest to blame. I feel it comes from the lack of support you have received in your quest for blame.

    Is there truly ever any blame to find, or is it just the decision of the person who took their own life?

    I cannot give a proper answer to this. Every person’s situation in unique. Ultimately it is the decision of the person but there can be many factors to take in consideration.

    Or is it case by case whether there is blame to be found, and if so, who has the right to make that decision? The State, the Family, the Doctors, who?

    This is what I have been saying all along. It’s a case by case basis. As for who should make that decision, it is also a case by case basis. The state may not be the best option because they don’t know the person. However the family May be too close to the person to pass unbiased judgement. In your list the doctors seem to be the best option.

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    • This comment is not going to delve into details of Sushant’s passing. I was wondering what led to you writing this post. I had a short conversation with you on this website a while back where we have our reasons for not wanting to talking about it, so this post came as a surprise.

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      • I am always looking for a valuable conversation to have, something that would bring good in the world. Until today, I hadn’t thought of any angle on Sushant’s death besides simply acknowledging the sadness of his passing that could do anything good. Earlier, I had an exchange with a reader who had started to think more about these kinds of questions, and I thought this is a healthy good direction for the conversation to go.

        Simple answer, I hadn’t thought of this exact discussion question before, and once I thought of it and decided it was worth persuing, I put up the post 🙂

        On Wed, Jul 29, 2020 at 3:28 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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    • I think if we leave it up to the doctors, it may be very very rare that a suicide is ever fully investigated. My understanding from the mental health professionals I have known is that it can happen to anyone, the healthiest person you know may just be very very good at masking depression. Sometimes suicide is the first visible symptom.

      But then, that could be a good thing. In the rare case when a therapist can say “I know my patient, and I know from what they said that this person around them was pushing them in this direction despite all my efforts to push back”, then it should absolutely be investigated. I want a therapist to be able to say that, in their medical opinion, there was something more happening here and for it to be treated seriously, because that case would be so clear and unusual and certain.

      To your point about the frustration of not being able to find support, I would point out that mental health professionals would also say that it is not good or healthy to try to find someone else to blame in order to find peace. If the goal is for the survivor to be able to rebuild some kind of a life, then letting go is probably far better.

      On Wed, Jul 29, 2020 at 3:26 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  5. There has been a lot of discussion in the Indian media about the cause of the suicide. I suspect this is because it seems inconceivable in that culture that someone would take their own life coupled with a strong desire to affix blame. This seems a side-issue to me. We cannot know what another person is feeling and if there is mental illness complicating matters there is likely no “cause” that would make sense to the general public. I suspect most suicides happen because the individual finds life so painful that death seems a better option. If the individual is suffering depression, treatment will often help, but it can take a while to get the right medication. And some antidepressants can cause suicidal impulses. It is a tragedy with no one to blame.

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    • Just to flip your last statement, could we also say that it is a tragedy with everyone to blame? Meaning, the social stigma around treatment for depression, the impossibility of people accepting that someone who has “a great life” can still be sad, the reluctance to reach out and pick up the phone and check in on others, all of the things that we (and I include every human being including myself in this) have done at some point.

      Suicide is perhaps a failure of the whole social fabric in a way that touches every living person. And that is also very hard to understand and accept.

      On Wed, Jul 29, 2020 at 3:28 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  6. I think the first question looks more like a stance that some one investigating a suicide will take. Considering that until recently suicide was an offense in India in that if you tried to kill yourself but did not succeed you could be charged with a crime puts the blame on the individual. And that suicide is always investigated unless makes it something that is abnormal (which is what most people would think it is). I would be interested to see literature if the legal stance on suicide affects what happens in a country.

    In speaking to friends, I realised that many have had suicidal thoughts at some point in their lives, however, brief. To me pinning the blame on some one unless the person states it in some form is going down the rabbit hole.

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    • I agree, it can be like going down a rabbit hole. And a wasteful rabbit hole when instead you could be talking to the live people around you who have had suicidal thoughts and trying to prevent another tragedy.

      I’m not saying that right. If you want to prevent the tragedy of suicide, it’s not about looking for “blame” for a death that already happened. It’s about looking around you for other unrelated deaths that could happen tomorrow and trying to reach out and prevent them.

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  7. My dad had a long history of depression and despite the full support from the family and undergoing counselling from a doctor, the turning point came when he had first grandchild and immediately he was striving to be positive and just be alive. He lived long to see my son to be a teenager, something we did not expect when he was in deep depression before.

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    • That’s wonderful, that your father turned the corner and lived so long.

      And also, unpredictable. I imagine for some people it is their first grandchild, for some their child, for some just waking up one morning and seeing the sun in the trees. Such a funny disease, we still know so little about it. All you can do is just keep living your life and never knowing what might make the change happen.

      On Wed, Jul 29, 2020 at 6:51 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  8. In short, there is no straightforward answer to your questions. I think there is a case to be made for criminalizing abusive behavior in general. I feel the coach in your example should have been persecuted for a history of abuse and bullying. For suicide, maybe not.

    I don’t know if you’re aware of dowry deaths. To this day, we get to hear about brides killing themselves in the sub-continent. The stories are almost identical – arranged marriage, living with in-laws, mental and physical abuse due to dowry related issues. Along with other charges, the in-laws are usually charged with abetment to suicide, though I don’t know what the final verdicts are. This I feel is justified. Why this is different from the case above, I don’t know. I think it’s the social and power dynamics. Those women are already in vulnerable positions because of the nature of society around them, and then if they’re made to feel worthless, told they’re better off dead, I think it is fair to say their intention is for the woman to take a drastic step and they should be held accountable.

    I’m aware this is all based on emotions and feelings, not logic. Nearly all countries have laws for abetting suicide, so I’m sure there are legal arguments to be made for it. I wonder how hard is it to prove such a scenario.

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    • Perhaps with dowry deaths it is that there are so few variables? These women are trapped, their whole world is their in-laws. You can’t say “school pressure” or “job pressure” or “media” or any of that, the only influence on their lives is their in-laws, for good or ill. You could also simply look at the pattern, if women in this position are driven to suicide again and again and again, than it is not a rare unpredictable circumstance, it becomes a certainty and the family knows exactly what they are doing.

      But how often do you have a situation like that? Where there are no variables, total isolation, and a predictable outcome. Short of that, I am not sure if you can ever make an argument for “blaming” someone for suicide.

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      • There can be cases where people act in the same way but it isn’t visible to outsiders looking in. Meaning, in the dowry cases, we see there aren’t other factors that affect the victim’s life, so the in-laws are considered culpable. But someone can be living an otherwise socially, financially secure life and still be so emotionally dependent on partner/spouse and consider them their whole world, that they feel trapped in the same way when they’re abused. It’s similar actions causing a similar reaction as in the dowry situation, but for an outsider looking in it is not easy to pinpoint the reason. Will we then say there is no point in investigating it? In other words, there may be a living human cause to a suicide, but the law may not be able to indict them. So I think there is value in investigating such incidents, no matter the situation.

        I think coming from a world where dowry deaths are a reality, the efforts into ‘looking for a cause’ doesn’t surprise me. But I’m curious why this is so new to non-desis as there are similar laws in most countries? How are such cases handled everywhere?

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        • There was a real life story I heard, and I can’t remember for the life of me where I heard it but it stuck with me. Couple having terrible fights, all the time, and the husband said “why don’t you just go out and shoot yourself”. And she did. It was absolutely his fault, he told her to do it and she did it, if she had never been in that marriage she wouldn’t have died, very direct. But, on the other hand, the marriage was terrible for both of them. After she died, he never fought again, turned into a different person, and it wasn’t because of the death, it was because they weren’t married any more. Not saying they are all like that, but here is an example where the suicide was due to the situation they were in, but it wasn’t a situation fully under the control of either of them, somehow it just happened that way, they got caught in this horrible toxic relationship and everything was different once they were out of it. I feel like the dowry deaths and the other wife suicides will keep happening in India, until women feel like they have the power to just walk out. If the message they are given over and over again is “the only escape from a bad marriage is death”, well, there’s an obvious answer. The marriage and in-laws are the immediate problem, but what about everything else in her life that told her “you can’t just walk away”?

          The laws are similar elsewhere, but they are not enforced this way so far as I know. “abettment to suicide” would mean “I knew she wanted to die and I helped her buy the gun” not “I drove her to death”. And that would be very rare. Suicides are generally treated as a tragedy with no real answer. Part of that is shame, easier to just not talk about it and try to move on than to dig into why it happened. But really, this whole police investigation afterwards is something I only saw happening when I began following Indian film (which I think Genevieve said in a comment below as well). I think mostly in America the police investigation lasts long enough to prove that it was suicide, and then that’s the end of it.

          On Wed, Jul 29, 2020 at 11:19 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Was the husband charged for anything? Should he have been? In India I can’t see her family letting go without pressing charges. Is it fair to consider him a risk to the well-being of any future partner? These things are so murky!

            Also, what happens if there are suicide notes blaming a person? I looked up Jiah Khan’s case which happened in 2013, it looks like Sooraj Pancholi was charged with abetting in 2018.

            Well, the shame part seems to common across cultures.Otherwise it just seems there’s a difference in how suicides are viewed. Maybe the families don’t want to accept someone can do it out of their own volition, there’s the notion of it being a ‘coward’s way out’ propagated by movies too.

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          • Again, I can’t even remember where I heard the story of the husband and wife. But I think I heard it or read it from the perspective of the wife’s best friend. And she chose to make her peace with the husband, and now is part of his single parent support system, spends a lot of time with their child, and (with the help of the husband) keeps the wife alive in the heart and mind of their child. For her, it is a happy ending. The child is happy having a loving parent and a support system around him, and she is far happier feeling grief for her friend and forgiveness for the husband than if she had tried to keep hate alive. And the husband is a stable good parent who is dedicated to raising his child. Changed and grew into a better person post-suicide.

            The shame and blame towards someone who kills themself is so toxic. Because if you are depressed and considering death, being told you are selfish and evil is hardly going to make you feel better! Being told “I love you, and you will feel better tomorrow” is completely different. And the idea of surviving a suicide attempt only to be thrown in jail afterwards? That is just horrific, so terrible to the preservation of life. But then the flip side, the idealization of suicide like Bhansali does, that’s not great for preservation of life either.

            The bottom line for me with suicide is that over and over again, the people who survive suicide, or change their mind at the last minute, are happy they did. It really truly does get better in the morning, you don’t have to die, there is a future. Forget the people left behind who are sad or angry or whatever, the person themselves is the victim, is being cheated of the rest of their life. Suicide prevention is about helping them, that’s what the focus should be, and the shame around it (that, as you say, is in every culture) is not helpful.

            On Thu, Jul 30, 2020 at 10:22 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Good for them!

            Are you talking about being arrested for attempting suicide? That law has been scrapped a while ago thankfully! I never understood the logic behind it. I haven’t seen Padmaavat so can’t speak about whether it’s idealized. But I can get behind it being shown that way from the character’s perspective, since society at the time would have ingrained that notion. Hopefully, we’ve come a long way since then.

            Totally with you on this!

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          • From what I could find, the suicide law in India was changed in just 2017. But then, those same laws were on the books all over the world, I like to think in a misguided attempt at prevention (“maybe if they know they could go to jail, they won’t try to kill themselves!”), but it’s awfully dumb. I mean, worst case, it would just make someone try extra hard to be sure they die so they won’t survive and end up in prison. But I also suspect those laws were hardly ever enforced, the police would have some degree of discretion and surely they wouldn’t want to arrest these poor people when they have the option of looking the other way?

            Padmaavat got me thinking about Bhansali and suicide, and then I realized he idealizes it in almost all his movies. Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Aishwarya tries to slash her wrists before her wedding. Devdas, Dev drinks himself to death in misery. Ram-Leela, Bajirao, Padmaavat, all about the beauty of dying for love. And Bhansali isn’t unique, there are so many Indian romantic tragedies that revolve around the nobility of choosing death over separation. As an artwork in isolation, I don’t mind it, sure if you are in the exact situation of Padmaavat it might be okay. But it does give romantic young people a narrative, doesn’t it? The idea that suicide is beautiful and poetic and touching instead of a terrible mistake that ends your life before it has a chance to begin.

            On Thu, Jul 30, 2020 at 12:24 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • You’re right, sacrificing oneself for love is usually seen as noble and praiseworthy in romantic works. It seems depending on the situation, suicide is treated in extremes – either glorified or stigmatised, when ideally it should be something in the middle.

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          • Yes, exactly. It’s either a foolish selfish childish thing to do that you have to be reasoned out of (“you could go to jail, think of how upset your family would be, etc.”) or something noble and magical (“they loved each other so much, they couldn’t live without each other”). Not just a sad thing that means you need love and understanding and help.

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    • Are dowry deaths suicides? I’ve only ever seen people describe them as murders covered up as suicides by the family in studies, but I guess it can happen. It’s less a suicide issue and more a violence against women issue, either way. If the abuse and violence was stopped earlier and women had more rights and opportunities, these women wouldn’t die. As far as I know, investigating them afterwards is very hard and basically pointless, because everyone bands together and is like, no she suddenly set herself on fire and there was nothing we could do! Much like murder-suicides in the West which are a very similar problem and where society makes the exact same mistake.

      Do you think people are projecting their feelings about this taboo issue onto SSR’s death? Or just all their suicide feelings?

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      • Maybe that’s why “suicides” started being investigated so routinely? This very particular situation of an isolated woman who is either brainwashed into killing herself (“here’s the fire, it would be so easy, it would solve all our problems, your family doesn’t want you, you are worthless”), or is murdered, and you have to at least attempt to investigate to figure out the truth. But as I said above, outside of the very particular dowry death situation, which is really a hostage situation, I can’t see that suicides can be that cut and dried.

        On Thu, Jul 30, 2020 at 1:40 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  9. You know the book Into the Wild (it is also a movie, and a rare movie that is better than the book). When i first read it I HATED the protaganist. He seemed selfish to me, risking his life for what? Leaving his family behind. Then I listened to an interview about the book with a professor who taught it in her class, and she said oddly some students felt he was selfish, but only females ever thought it, and not many. Obviously I was one of those females, and realizing that my views were so odd to othersg I thought, WHY did I find him selfish? Why do I think people need to live their lives for other people? I had always felt suicide was the most selfish thing a person could do, because this is what my father thought. So I started question why I thought people should live for others. But while I questioned that, I still kinda thought it, for about 8 years, until we went had a tour of Coba, Mexico (with a guide who didn’t like me because I knew more than I thought he did and I realized later my phrasing of questions was as though I was telling him about his own people and history), and this tour guide when asked about suicide said that there was no Mayan word for suicide, it is simply called self sacrifice. And since then I’ve thought that no, we don’t have to live for other people (unless we have children). So if someone wants to end their life, I think it is their right.

    And this Indian idea, that I’ve read about in Indian newspapers for the last two years (because that is the length of time I’ve looked at Indian Newspapers), that a person’s suicide can be blamed on someone else, is something I NEVER considered. I don’t agree with it, but then I’m also not familiar with it. I would never have felt it was the coach’s fault that that young boy committed suicide. Not only that, I don’t even think yelling at the kids in high school is that bad. Kids don’t have to play sports, and competitive sports is NOT part of the AYSO (All Your Saturdays are Over / American Youth Soccer Organization) “Everyone Gets To Play” philosophy. That child was depressed, and while the coach’s yelling may have been the last straw, a straw is just a straw, not an anvil.

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    • So if we accept your premise that there is a right at a certain point to end a life, then the question becomes what point that is? You say that we don’t have to live for other people unless we have children, but what if you have other similar responsibilities? what if you are the only support for your parent? Or if you have a partner who loves you very very much? I think there is a line, somewhere, but I think for me it goes beyond just having children. If you are someone embedded in such a way that your removal would cause irreparable harm to those around you, than I don’t think you do have the right to take your life.

      And the other open question is with “want” to end their life. The boy in my example, I think, was too young to know what he wanted. His brain wasn’t formed yet, his emotions were a sea of peaks and valleys, I don’t think he should have the right to make that decision (in a perfect world). And then there’s the depression factor. Shaheen, Alia’s sister, described in her book how she was terrified of death and didn’t want to die, but couldn’t live in such pain from her depression. So it wasn’t really a question of “choosing” death, more being miserable because there was no treatment for her ailment. So I would add also that, if you have treatment available to you for pain, if you have a mind that is fully formed, if you owe nothing to anyone living, then you have a right to choose death. Obviously speaking in gross hypotheticals, I couldn’t begin to describe the exact situation that would fit all of those things!

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      • I don’t mentally believe you have to live for your children, but emotionally I know it would devastate a child to have a parent leave, by suicide, by accident, by walking away. So if I was going to point to a line, intellectually I would say there is no line. Emotionally that line lies in each individual. Emotionally I am sad that a young man committed suicide. But it is his life, so I’m trying not to judge.

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  10. If you mean it as a direct question-yes,the family members have this constitutional right(legally not just family,but why would a random person get in this).If you meant this as a rhetoric-again yes,if it is legal in India,there is no question of ethical implications whether a third party likes it or not.If it is was anybody else,the case would be same.Except the unnecessary intervention of public,which I don’t support.
    One question that does need to arise before a conclusion is reached-cancel culture.Which perhaps never works,except maybe in the case of Harvey Weinstein(but he wasn’t just unethical,a complete criminal.And the media outburst would have meant nothing to him when that dirty old man might have been busy bribing judges.)
    With reference to the coach,if people can file a divorce for slap,why should that not apply to other scenarios.That person was not guilty of physically hurting someone,but robbing the person of his dignity.When someone seeks divorce on account of a single incident slap or yelling,the other person does not stand accused of domestic violence-just the violation of the person’s dignity.
    Law can be hard to interpret,but this is inherently linked to the right to life.And court does not regard life as just the earthly state of existence but a healthy,dignified life in all aspects.Court does not necessarily grant punishment to an innocent especially in high profile cases(otherwise why would people be roaming free after poaching black bucks),but if the family feels there is justice to be had,they have right to seek it. Think as a woman,you might feel uncomfortable around certain people in your office.Are they hurting you in anyway?No.Is your comfort and dignity suffering in their vicinity?You have the right to seek remedy.Was any party guilty is another thing,and the other party isn’t necessarily guilty unless proved.
    Your question had a more philosophical aspect,but sorry to answer with a legal aspect.Not all cases are crystal clear.Let me rephrase-not a single case is crystal clear.The law has to take into consideration every single aspect otherwise too many cases would end up with an inconsequential verdict.Coming back to your question,investigation do make people relive their sadness.But we need to get rid of this stigma of investigation=guilt.Just like a single incident of yelling doesn’t make the person a physically violent person but does serve as ground for other person to seek separation,same is the case with other cases.I support such investigation,but do not support public shaming without any proof of guilt.

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