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Commentary: Suicide isn’t painless

NOTE: The following is an opinion piece. The opinions stated in commentaries, here and otherwise in our newspaper, are those of the author and not The Brillion News, Zander Press Inc. or the owners or staff. The Brillion News welcomes letters to the editor to respond to this or any other topic of interest.

Commentary by Ed Byrne 

Suicide has been described as a permanent solution to a temporary problem. But even that description is unfair, because none of us is privileged to see into another person’s mind or heart.

I know it is not easy for the family members or friends of a person who takes his own life. I’ve been close enough to several suicide situations in the past 10 years to know that survivors have a tough time.

People who use suicide as an occasion for moralizing or making some religious pronouncement on it do a huge disservice. It is usually a self-righteous pronouncement by someone who fails to see the wisdom of mercy.

A friend and I were talking about suicide the other day and she made a point that’s worth considering.

She noted that our current culture produces a lot of young people who are so fragile that they can’t deal with the ordinary setbacks and disappointments that young people handled well 40 or 50 years ago.

We coddle children. We give everyone a blue ribbon. We turn mothering into smothering.

We don’t allow kids to fail, and so they don’t know how to survive failure and recover from it.

When I was a kid, a bully was the kid who beat the crap out of you and took your ice cream cone.

Now, it’s considered bullying if someone looks at you the wrong way or doesn’t give a Valentine‘s Day card to every girl in the class.

We have produced a lot of young people who are not resilient enough to survive without protection from real life.

All that said, I don’t think any of us has a right to judge someone who ends his own life.

“She had everything to live for,” we say. But we really don’t know that. We can’t.

The best we can honestly say is something like this: “I’m sorry for myself that you took your life, because there’s an empty spot in my life now.”

But casting a negative judgment on someone who commits suicide is wrong. Nearly every religion I’m familiar with asks people not to take their own lives, or anyone else’s life.

But they all leave any judgment to the creator of life, and we need to respect that.

If we really care for the person who ended his own life, the kindest thing we can do is to provide non-judgmental compassion for those who are devastated by the loss of someone they loved.

This commentary was published in the June 23, 2016 edition of The Brillion News. Ed Byrne writes a weekly column for The Brillion News. 



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