This much I agree with Manuel Buencamino: “Kristel Tejada deserves more than just being turned into a prop or a tool. Let her rest in peace. Let her family grieve with some dignity.” This is where the pornography of grief should end, though – I agree that much – but Teo Marasigan’s rebuttal got me thinking a bit.
Manuel’s right: there could have been another reason for the suicide. The same is true for so many people who have committed suicide: yes, you cannot pin suicide on just one factor. To quote a statement often uttered in the wake of this tragedy, “suicide is complex.” And the complexity of this situation allows commentators like Manuel – and myself, even – the free pass of dissecting this situation. The same complexity that allows activists to create a battlecry around the circumstances of Kristel’s death. The same complexity that allows us to all grieve and cry, whether genuinely or in one of those self-serving orgies of preaching to the crowd. Or even finding dignity in protest.
There’s where I disagree with Manuel, though: if it’s that complex, should society wash its hands of the responsibility that comes with the death of a brilliant student whose dreams were dashed by poverty? Especially if poverty is society’s problem in the first place?