When I first heard the term “suicide” as a child, I thought it was one of the coolest sounding words I had heard. The news broadcast that carried the word from the car radio to my young ears that evening was about some girl who had done the deed. I must have been around five years old at the time and I remember using the word with all the lust for dramatic big-bang endings only a five year old boy can have. At that age, I still had no real concept of death.
I was quickly admonished by my mother who illuminated me on the serious and finality of the word “suicide”. We were Catholic, so she began my lesson by giving me the Catholic reasons suicide was wrong. This involved
- the notion that God gave us life, so it is not within our rights to take it away,
- a quick mention of Limbo,
(Note: The ethereal plane no longer exists, apparently. The Catholic church decided it didn’t want to use that as a story anymore because it caused undue stress on new parents, so Pope Benedict XVI did away with it in 2007.)
- a name-by-name account of all the people who would be sad if I ever died.
Now, it wasn’t until years later–after I would have children of my own–when I would hear about the universal law that all children want to do right. A behavioral psychologist my wife and I worked with told us all children crave the approval of the adults around them. “They just don’t always have the tools or reasoning capabilities to do the right thing,” he said.
Indeed, at the ripe old age of five, my relationship with God (an invisible, all-powerful adult, in my young mind) was only just starting to bud, but my earnest interest in pleasing the adults in my life was operating on overdrive. With my new awareness attained, I categorized suicide as “bad to do” and put any future notions of suicide out of my mind.
It wouldn’t be until many years later when I would finally realize my own reasons for concluding suicide was fundamentally wrong.
In the case of suicide, it is better stated as a lack of respect; lack of respect for oneself and a lack of respect for the loved one’s who depend on you, emotionally or materially.