Tuesday 21 November 2017

Marie MacSweeney: Why we need to have a level of taboo on the subject of suicide

Marie MacSweeney

TWO words shout out from Brendan O'Connor's excellent article on suicide, published recently in this newspaper. They are the words private and taboo.

In an age that is rapidly losing its instinct for privacy, in which the process of obsessive revelation of the self is encouraged on all sides, it may indeed seem strange to suggest that there should be privacy around such matters as suicide, and indeed that suicide should be, to a degree, a taboo subject.

Yet, it is increasingly common now to be warned to be careful of our 'mental health', encouraging us to acknowledge mental health problems in ourselves and in others, to see mental health issues everywhere we look, to anticipate them around every bend in the road. And since suicide and mental health have been inextricably linked, there is a notion abroad that there should be no stigma to suicide. None whatsoever! How impressionable young minds process these messages can only be imagined.

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