Is Suicide the Coward's Way?
5 months ago
As the Jovan Belcher case shows, sympathy is waning for the tragic act.
Whenever a high-profile suicide makes the news, it's always a tough subject to tackle. Initial thoughts of sorrow are followed by questions about what was behind it, which usually leads to strong opinions about the tragic act.
In the past when high-profile entertainers like Phyllis Hyman, or more recently Soul Train founder Don Cornelius, took their own lives, most people expressed words of sympathy, saying things like "you never know what someone is going through." This would especially be the case when it would later be revealed that the celebs were suffering from mental illness.
In other cases, such as those of former record execs Shakir Stewart and Chris Lighty, both of whom were fathers and husbands, people's feelings seemed to straddle a line of concern between what drove the men to kill themselves to labeling them selfish for leaving their families to deal with their problems alone.
[Also Read: Suicide Now Kills More People Than Car Wrecks]
Now, with the world still finding out details about the murder-suicide of NFL player Jovan Belcher, another word is starting to be associated with suicide: coward.
Believe it or not, during ancient times, suicide was often considered an act of honor. Japanese samurai would commit "Seppuku" or "Kaishaku-nin" where the samurai would either cut their stomachs open with their swords or allow themselves to be decapitated. In those times, suicide was committed by warriors who wanted to avoid torture after being captured by their enemies or as a form of self-capital punishment for serious offenses or to find relief from shame.
But in 2012, taking yourself out is being seen as anything but honorable.