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Wednesday, July 13, 2005 


With the revelation that the attacks on London were seemingly suicide bombers, indeed, ones who lived here and were "normal" young men, the soul searching once again goes on. Jonathan Freedland in the Grauniad has called it a challenge to the whole of society. This is typical of a society which cannot understand people taking their own lives, for any reason, or at any time. Recently, the painkiller Coproxomal was withdrawn from the market because of the high number of suicides associated with it, despite it being a prescription only drug. The only time that we often ever deal with suicide is when a bullied child takes their own life, which usually excites the media.

In our meritocracy, with seemingly everything available to anyone who wishes to work for it, with our lattes, i-pods, big brother and consumer bliss, why would anyone want to end their life? Often we can be judged by what happens in our prisons, where we throw the mentally ill, the petty criminals, the different, as well as murderers and others who are a threat to society. In the first 12 days of June, there were 12 suicides in British prisons. That is shocking enough, as is the fact that Britain has the highest prison population in Europe. What is more shocking is the silence that meets these facts. The only voice we often hear is of those who demand that more yobs be locked up.

Japan, well known for having a very high rate of suicide, has recently been dealing with group suicides, usually arranged on chat rooms, where young people agree to meet at a beauty spot and then poison themselves with a charcoal burner. Again, they have responded by clamping down, rather than looking at the reasons behind it. In a society in which suicide has in the past been viewed as noble, you would have expected something different.

Statistics show that 1 in 4 people will suffer from mental illness in their lifetime, and almost everyone knows someone who is either depressed or has some kind of mental health issue. Yet, we still view these topics mostly as taboo. While we can't understand the motives of those who want to die, or who cannot die because of the law, we won't be able to understand those who want to take others with them in the process.
Suicide bombings, have and always will be a means to an end. In our western society, where looks and life and image mean everything, to destroy all those three things is one of the most shocking things that you can do. Self-harm and the like are not usually pleas for attention, they are methods often used to try and live with the misery and pressures of modern life. Suicide bombing is just this on a much larger scale. By taking others with them in a spectacular fashion, they are just trying to make themselves live forever, in another way. When you can't live with yourself in this life, why not take others with you and become an idol forever? At least you won't be around to deal with the fallout and the hate that your image will conjure up. That people are willing to take this step in Britain shouldn't be shocking. We should be shocked that it hasn't happened before.

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