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There is more than enough factual evidence to show that the rates of suicide are on the rise. It is the second leading cause of death in most European countries and has been ranked 10th in the world. The situation is set to get better if people are encouraged to devise ways to handle life’s stressors and to cope with situations. Despite men being more prone to committing suicide, women attempt suicide about four times more than men (Halbwachs, Goldblatt and Giddens, 1978). This essay aims to discuss suicide in depth and cover some of its causes and consequently provide a few suggestions on how it can be handled in reference to the book, Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller.
It becomes difficult to ascertain the causes of suicide since the victims die. However, most people who commit suicide record some similar background traits which can be used to map out causes for suicide. Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller touches on a suicide case of one of the characters, Willy Loman.
People commit suicide when they become disillusioned, sad and hopeless in life. They don’t think things can get better and dwell on thoughts of the past glorious days (Halbwachs, Goldblatt and Giddens, 1978). Willy Loman was once ambitious and worked so hard to make his dreams a reality. However, all didn’t turn out well. He faced a lot of failures and instead of thinking of ways to make the situation better he gave up and this resulted in him feeling bitter about his life. Willy eventually committed suicide as a way to escape the reality.
Some suicidal cases come as a belief that success comes from luck, popularity and personality. In the real world, an individual cannot be liked by everyone. Banking on this for success makes one frustrated in the end when they don’t succeed (Goldney, n.d.). Loman believes in the American dream where one achieves without working too hard. He believes Ben is successful because of luck and being liked. This success strategy leads to his downfall. He feels like a failure and his sons also don’t show signs of prospering. He commits suicide as a consequence.
Leading a luxurious life beyond one’s means is one of the causes of suicide. Willy buys his mistress silk stockings which were quite luxurious. He also wants a refrigerator, car and vacuum cleaner for his family. He takes on huge debts to provide these. He eventually falls in great debt and has to comm suicide so his insurance can pay them off and his family can live comfortably. Suicide seems like an escape.
Infidelity can arouse feelings of deep regret and sadness and is one of the causes of suicide. Those who are unfaithful sometimes struggle with feelings of regret alone and this can lead to suicide. When Loman sees his wife mending stockings it reminds him of how he bought his mistress new ones (Goldney, n.d.). He is reminded of his failure as a husband and provider and this could have contributed to his decision to commit suicide later on. Fidelity is golden, it gives one peace of mind.
Even when the person doing it seems out of choices suicide is still seen as a negative thing. Heroic suicide is a new way to look at it and part of the cause for some suicide cases. It is not strange to hear of a person killing themselves and their children to avoid suffering. A Japanese woman was once tried for attempting to drown herself together with her children on a beach in California. She had a series of marital problems and opted for suicide but took her children with her probably so they would not stay back and suffer (Dovel, 2015). This can be compared to the case of Willy Loman who at the end of his life is saddened by the state of his family. They are in debt. He takes away his own life so that his family can have a better life with insurance paying off their debts. Those who commit suicide think they are being heroic which is not the case. There is a better way of dealing with problems.
Trauma and other mental disorders such as depression and schizophrenia can lead to suicide. Lose of a family member can be such a traumatic event. Failure at work is also traumatic (Dovel, 2015). Willy Loman is one such character, he undergoes career failure and has to deal with the loss of his brother Ben whom he loved. Ben was successful and a perfect role model for his sons. He becomes delusional and gets hallucinations from time to time. He talks to Ben often and even when Ben is already dead he sees him. Before his death, he talks to Ben who convinces him that if he died his insurance policy would cover his family. Willy then takes his life. This is a perfect example of how poor mental health can lead to suicide.
It is quite difficult to prevent suicide. Reports have it that on average women people die in every 16 minutes from suicide (Dovel, 2015). This makes it a major problem that requires attention. People need to be reminded occasionally that suicide is not a solution to problems. That they need to stay strong and face problems head on. There is always a better way to handle it. If it is employment you can look for another job. Suicide only makes the life of those left behind miserable.
To move forward people should not dwell on the past and allow it to affect their present life. What is in the past is gone and they should aim at working for the future. Thoughts of the past and the how good it made a person fixated such that they can not do anything in the present. They become delusional and can even get hallucinations (Bloom, 2011). Leaving the past behind can really help prevent suicide.
Comparison rarely helps anyone achieve their dreams. All people are unique and so are the circumstances they are in. Wishing to have what the other person brings about deep frustration especially if one cannot achieve what they wish for. It reduces their self-esteem and self-worth and they start feeling hopeless and empty (Bloom, 2011). If people are reminded to live according to their means and encouraged to stop comparing their progress with others, suicide rates will greatly reduce.
In most cases, the people who end up committing suicide always have a trail of signs leading up to their death. They will talk about it lightly, leave notes, withdraw from social functions, get material to help them kill themselves and even show signs of giving up. It is important for those around them to reach out and listen to them and even seek professional help. When they are given attention, that alone can stop them from pursuing death.
On a societal level, awareness needs to be created concerning suicide. People need to be told where they can seek help and how to handle a suicidal case. Those with mental disorders need to be well taken care of because they are more prone to suicide. This way the rate of suicide could go down.
Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary solution. It is not necessary to commit suicide. There are better ways of handling issues but death closes all possibilities. According to scholars, people work towards avoiding pain and getting pleasure. Suicide is a drastic avoidance mechanism (Bloom, 2011). Help needs to be given to enable people to cope better with situations. Suicide robs the society of individuals who would help the society forge forward. There is a need to unite and do something about it before it gets worse than it is.
Bloom, H. (2011. Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman. New York: Bloom’s Literary Criticism.
Dovel, M. (2015. Suicide is a Permanent Solution to a Temporary Problem. International Journal of Emergency Mental Health And Human Resilience, s2. Doi: 10.4172/1522-4821.1000e212 Goldney, R. Suicide Prevention.
Halbwachs, M., Goldblatt, H., & Giddens, A. (1978. The Causes of suicide. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
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