Youth Suicide

   In the interest of humor, “Youth Suicide” is the name of a Wrestling Society X wrestler famed for throwing himself off 25-foot ladders and into thumbtacks and explosive ring props.  However, for this entry, I’d like to talk about a different sort of youth suicide: young people killing themselves before they reach the prime of their lives.

   Awhile ago, I talked about a recent suicide by a 12-year-old girl at Cabinet Hill, Baguio City.  The latter half of this year has been rife with youth-related suicides: Mariannet Amper of Davao City, a boy who committed suicide in Iloilo under the influence of rugby, and various hangings.  Rather than of the kind of suicides consistent with the depressing lyrics of Fall Out Boy and Hoobastank, these are suicides that are of a different nature from teen “emo” phases: there seems to be a prevalence of depression among the youth today.

   This article, haphazard as it may be, attempts to ground youth suicide into a framework: a social-anthropological one.  Here, I attempt to make sense of suicide from a different perspective outside of blogging commentary.

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Boring sociological brouhaha

   Emilé Durkheim, considered by many to be the father of sociology, was also one of the first to study suicide scientifically.  In his work Suicide, Durkheim distinguishes between four forms of suicide:

  • Egoistic suicide: results from too little social integration, where suicide is committed because of having little in the way of social support mechanisms;
  • Altruistic suicide: results from too much social integration, where suicide is committed because people are willing to sacrifice their own lives for others’;
  • Fatalistic suicide: results from overregulated, unrewarding lives (i.e., slavery;
  • Anomic suicide: results from problems in integration like the inability of societies to provide for needs (acute and chronic economic anomic suicide), or the inability of societies to provide for adaptation (acute and chronic domestic anomic suicide).  (http://durkheim.itgo.com/suicide.html)

    Suicide, at least given this framework, is not caused or done solely by the individual: the value of Durkheim’s sociology (perhaps even its limitation) is that it frames social events and phenomena from and into the social world.  For the lay person reading this entry, it is already possible to assume that youth suicide is by and large anomic: for example, Mariannet Amper’s suicide was an acute or chronic economic anomic suicide.

   But while we can chalk up a lot of youth-related suicides to the inability of social institutions to provide for needs, surely something else outside of institutions has to be a cause for suicide.  If you asked me, from the structural-functionalist framework of viewing things, the social structure is composed of social agents: think of Lego blocks creating a tower of Legos.

   My newfound knowledge and appreciation for psychoanalytic theory leads me to a probable cause for suicide: the human psyche itself.  I’m fairly new to psychoanalysis, so right now, my firmest grasp on the matter is more towards Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari (BTW: they’re not “psychoanalytic” per se, they critiqued psychoanalysis) as opposed to Sigmund Freud or Jacques Lacan.

   The psyche being the Lego blocks in the tower of Legos, we need to consider the human individual: Deleuze and Guattari, in Anti-Oedipus, write that the individual, being a desiring-machine, works only by breaking down (this holds true for every machine).  This breakdown can cause many in the way of what Deleuze and Guattari call “neuroses:” while I’m not sure if suicide is in the text, I’m sure that it is a manifestation of it.

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   It’s clichéd, but the reality of youth-related suicide (or suicide for that matter) is that it is not caused by a single factor: instead, it is caused by a multiplicity of factors.  There is no central cause to youth-related suicide: consider the MySpace suicide, among many other Internet-related suicides for that matter.

   I’m not saying that suicide is an event without a cause: all I’m saying is that because we cannot trace suicide to a single pool of causes that are easily addressed, there’s really no way to prevent suicide.  It is possible to alleviate the effects of suicide-causing factors so as its effects would not be so prevalent, like more jobs and a common social understanding for the lesser among us.  But as far as preventing something that has been with modern society since day one, it’s not possible.

   “Vicious cycles,” says my friend Rhon.  I just hope that’s not it for a problem I don’t really know how – or where – to start solving.

Lockdown

   I just got reminded by my mom that if I have any plans of getting travel documents in the way of passports and visas, I have to cut my hair.  Somehow, many of my relatives are quite concerned about my hair length.  It’s paranoia by syllogism:

  • I have long hair.
  • I’m from UP.
  • I used to be an activist of the street-rallying kind.

   It’s not that I’m afraid of having a haircut: when I took the summer term at UP Diliman a couple of years ago, I had a haircut.  Some of my friends were very nanghihinayang that I cut my hair when it was so long, shiny, and fell in a neat cascade almost to the small of my back.  Now my hair is below shoulder-length: it’s still too long by conventional and conservative standards.

   For all intents and purposes, I used to be very vainglorious when my hair was longer.  I oiled it myself on a regular basis, used handfuls of shampoo and handfuls of conditioner (not the all-in-one kind), and even went so far as to have it cellophaned once.  When pesky lice infested my hair, I took the burning sensations of Kwell, had my hair ironed, and then went to a hair spa a month later… all in the effort of ridding my locks of the parasitic vermin.

   Now that I have shorter hair – and figured out the cost of my vanity – I stopped giving my hair the kind of attention I don’t give my romantic prospects.  The truth is, you don’t have to go to a hair salon to have good hair: you only need to give your hair an extra oomph of shampoo.  Soap, surprisingly, works fine.

   But I don’t know what haircuts have to do with travelling abroad.

Jaded

   I was talking with an old batchmate of mine when the topic inevitably drifted to the matter of social action.  And so it comes with the jadedness of two guys bullshitting: him taking up law, me taking up the challenge of establishing myself as a “theorist” by the time I graduate.  In our heyday as young men in undergrad, we both shared the mantra of “down with the system.”  With someone like an Antonio Trillanes IV representing that same idea… well, it doesn’t sound so cool or so right anymore.

   I’m the first to admit that my social consciousness was made and formed in the streets by virtue of a placard or a streamer.  Yup, I was an activist.  I still am, although of a different sort.  I now make qualified distinctions between “militant,” “progressive,” “Leftist,” and so on and so forth.  The reason being is that having grown up with the general movement of the Marxist idea of improving society through struggles of many different sorts, walking the walk is different from talking the talk, and walking the talk is different from talking the walk.  Walking while talking is different from talking while walking.  It’s the way things are: it took me the better part of five years to figure that out.

   “Critical thinking” is more of a catchphrase to me than an actual practice: there is a difference in thinking critically and thinking in the end of criticizing.  “We denounce” is the kind of warcry you would see in a political statement, blowing everything out of proportion that every problem that there is in the country – or the world – can be pinpointed when you find someone to blame.  I’ve gotten a lot of flak for that over the years: where I have the power to write online, I do not blame.  You really have to look deep inside yourself to see if you are in the right plane to point fingers at anybody without your arm tiring.  Are you pointing up, or are you pointing down?

   All too often, the problems of this country aren’t supposed to be laid upon the finger of blame.  Judgment is reserved for those who can judge: those who themselves contribute to the decay of society in any way are bad judges of character.

   Jadedness… maybe it’s having to look from things at the other side of the fence for once.