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Suicide – The modern predicament

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By Wesley Macheso:

Last week, tragedy struck inside Parliament Building when former deputy speaker Clement Chiwaya allegedly shot himself in the head before the Clerk of Parliament.

We may not have eyewitness accounts of what transpired that moment, but one thing for sure is that the incident is traumatising, not only to us as a nation but, more deeply, to the woman who witnessed this death.

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We cannot even begin to imagine what Fiona Kalemba must be going through at the moment. We just hope that she will get the support she needs to recover from this tragic experience.

When news of this death reached the all-seeing eyes of social media, there were mixed reactions from the public.

Some expressed their disbelief by wondering how the late managed to go into the building with a gun amidst all the security that is supposedly there.

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Others disputed the possibility of suicide as a farce, arguing that this man had a lot to lose if he died.

But most people, as is always the case in this country, ridiculed the victim as a coward who failed to face the challenges that life brought to his table.

It is typical of most Malawians to look down on victims of suicide, and this has been one of the reasons a lot of people are increasingly choosing to end their lives.

We live in a country where sense is not dear to a lot of people. New media platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, and Twitter have revealed to us that most people are not that decent in their minds.

Social media have given almost everyone a chance to speak their mind and what comes out is often disappointing. A lot of people are judgemental and overly sentimental on matters that require reason.

Many are also those who speak without thinking or before they finish thinking. Unfortunately, these are the people whose voices are loudest, and they suppress voices of reason that seldom come out banging.

Suicide is not something we should ridicule. It takes as much courage for a person to take their own life as it does for one to stay alive.

Committing suicide is not easy, and neither is choosing to stay alive. Over the years, people have been trying to make sense of human existence, but there are still no convincing answers hinged on reason that can explain the absurdity of life.

As existential philosophers would explain, life is meaningless and absurd, and that is what makes it hard to live.

A lot of innocent people suffer in this world – some due to war, poverty, incurable diseases, hunger, natural disasters, name them. Nobody can explain why this happens to them, yet we accept it as the way of the world.

In the times we are living in, and more so in our part of the third world, it has become even harder to survive each day. There are economic shocks that have made people desperate to the point that they drown in enormous debt.

People are losing their jobs every day, and they do not know how they will sustain their lives. In a country like Malawi, the stings of poverty and disease are so unbearable that one may lose interest in life – it may become meaningless, and they opt for death.

And to make matters worse, this is a society that does not allow people (especially men) to express their fears. We have a toxic culture of pretence and secrecy that has led to the fall of a lot of good men and women.

To be Malawian is to pretend that you are fine when you are on the edge of a cliff.

As such, people are committing suicide every day within our small borders and yet others have the lack of good sense to ridicule them.

Most people in this country are dead inside due to multiple afflictions and what they need from us is compassion, not ridicule.

As the existentialists say, when we realise that life is meaningless, most choose to take a leap of faith – to believe in religion which tells them that there will be a better world after this one.

Still, they argue that the hero in absurdism is the one who daily faces the possibility of suicide without succumbing to it. May we all have a moment of silence for our brothers and sisters who could not bear the cross anymore.

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