17 June 2008

Suicide In Jakarta

This is not going to be a post that quotes a lot of facts and figures about the suicide rate in Jakarta. I do not claim to be an authority on the subject and neither have I done the research to pretend to have a claim like that. This is more a general commentary on suicide in light of a story I read in today's Kompas Newspaper (page 27).

I would imagine that if you asked most people whether they had thought of suicide or not their answers would be "no". For me this is kind of like asking men whether or not they masturbate. The answer to that question is almost universally no too. Yet, the majority of men lie on this one and I think the majority of people lie on the suicide question as well.

Thinking about suicide does not mean that you are desperate and thinking of figuratively biting the bullet and ending it all then and there. To the contrary, when I think about suicide it is almost always regarding how does one do it. I, personally, have great difficulty in the idea of ingesting something to stop me breathing or putting a shotgun in my mouth and blowing the back of my head out or getting in a car and poisoning myself with carbon monoxide.

The difficulty for me is trying to picture my life being so bad that I would rather be dead. To date I have not been able to do that. I have often thought that people who commit suicide are to a certain degree, cowards. However, as I have aged, I know longer think that suicide is necessarily the easy way out. I can not pretend to understand the pain that must precede a decision to end it all, but I think I would find myself rationalizing that pain against the pain that I would leave behind if I did kill myself.

The story that put me to thinking about this is about two students who gassed themselves at Pantai Karnaval at Taman Impian Jaya Ancol in North Jakarta. The news only relays their death and the manner in which it occurred. Unfortunately, it does not tell their stories. It does not tell us how two young adults in their early 20's reached the decision that they did. How was it that life was so bad that they no longer had the desire to live? At 21 and 22 you have your whole life ahead of you! If it is at a low point or even if it is at the lowest of low points then the only way to go is up! Life will get better.

Anyway, just some personal ramblings from someone who has seen friends choose the ultimate option and still to this day never fully understands why!


Polar Bear said...

Rob, it’s the saddest thing. I can understand someone who lays down their life for a belief, or even a hobby, but to do so for no reason….
A friend of mine became an ambulance driver. His first job was a young boy who had got home, saw his exam results envelope, left it unopened and hung himself in the bathroom.
The police opened the letter (the days before internet results were available) and the kid had passed…..
Its up to all of us to be good mates, to be caring friends. To listen to others problems and show them that we care… A life is a precious thing. To throw it away for nothing is a tragedy.

Rob Baiton said...

Agreed on all counts...

This must be the softer side to the bear?

Anonymous said...

Just scanned your post through and got this weird idea:

"Maybe if they masturbated enough, they wouldn't be that suicidal?"

Oh blame it on the Playboy magazine which offers nothing like the parents magazine in the US

Rob Baiton said...

Don't know about weird my friend!

Sounds a little disturbing to me :D

Aside from the hairy palms and going blind it hasn't done me any harm!

I guess happiness is in the palm of the be-hold-er!

Polar Bear said...

One of my sadder military experiences was having to return to parents the locker contents of a young man who had died possibly/probably from suicide. It was harrowing in the extreme to see his parents trying to cope with the loss of their son, and there was nothing I could say.

I hasten to add that there was no indication of the military having any culpability in the situation, which was relatively unique. Perhaps, given the prevalence of suicide in young people (especially young men) and the large number of young men under our care, we could have taken even more interest in his wellbeing. Perhaps not. It is a fine balance. And perhaps it was indeed an accident. It didn’t matter to his parents, who had lost all that they valued.

It is beholden upon us all to look after our fellow humans. To offer them comfort, to show them hope.

Rob Baiton said...


As I said before, I agree that it is inherent upon us as human beings to care more about those around us!

Nevertheless, the sad reality for me is that we quite often think first and only of number one!

Perhpas Darwin was right?

Thanks for sharing the story though. Maybe it will help some of the passers by to this humble blog to garner a new perspective on life and death!

Rob Baiton said...

It's being reported at detik.com that the two students were naked in the back seat!

I need to do a little more research on this one and ask around to find out whether it is true.

Apparently the police officer handling the case is giving mixed signals as to the truth of the claim. It seems that he may have inadvertently suggested both the clothed and unclothed options to the press.

If they were naked then perhaps this is not a suicide but rather a tragic error of judgment in winding up the windows, locking the doors, and leaving the engine running while you partake in a not so quickie love making session!

Either way, still a tragic end!

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